ActRaiser (SNES) review
"For years, two questions have constantly been on my mind. Is there a god, and could a 2D platformer/strategy game actually work? Imagine my delight when I found out about a game where you play as a god in an Action/strategy game. Finally my problems were solved! But alas, this game's action strategy combination didn't pan out at all. The action was too simplistic and easy, and calling the strategy portions "strategy" was a joke (which is why the word strategy will be replaced with "strategery" f..."
For years, two questions have constantly been on my mind. Is there a god, and could a 2D platformer/strategy game actually work? Imagine my delight when I found out about a game where you play as a god in an Action/strategy game. Finally my problems were solved! But alas, this game's action strategy combination didn't pan out at all. The action was too simplistic and easy, and calling the strategy portions "strategy" was a joke (which is why the word strategy will be replaced with "strategery" for the rest of this review). The game didn't even tell me the meaning of life or anything. I had just wasted my time. I had just played...
Great concept? Check. Execution? About as there as Zeus is real.
So what goes wrong with Actraiser? Let's start with the action elements of the game. In short, they are poorly done. You simply walk around slashing enemies with your sword with no special attacking moves outside of jumping and ducking. You'll find the lack of moves don't hurt your ability to beat a level much in the end though, because this portion of the game is just flat out easy. There are health power ups abound (you should find one every 30-40 seconds). Factor this in with enemies that do very limited damage to you when they hit you (including bosses) and foes that for the most part die with one slash, and you'll find this portion of the game is child's play.
It becomes even more so with magic. Magic just annihilates everything in its path. With most bosses the strategy ends up being to just use your spells, and win. That simple. They really should have powered down the spells in this game, and strengthened the bosses too. Not only are they weak, but their attack variety is about as large as your hero's (not big). All of this really makes the action elements completely unsatisfying.
Just as inadequate is the "strategery" part of the game. This is because 0 strategy is involved! The gist of this portion of the game is to order your villagers, who totally worship you, to build stuff in a certain direction (you don't control what they build or anything like that, everything is done automatically). Once their buildings get to monster lairs that are scattered throughout each map section, the villagers will get rid of those lairs on their own, rinse and repeat till all the hideouts are gone.
In the mean time you'll be controlling an angel. With this angel you go around shooting the monsters that come from these lairs, in order to protect your villagers from them. So essentially the "strategy" section of the game is actually one of the worst action games you've ever played in your life. Floating around shooting enemies down just gets plain repetitive, especially as they keep coming and coming and you keep shooting and shooting, you get so bored you get into this unconscious kind of phase and keep repeating stuff and keep repeating stuff. It's so bad you'll be real anxious to get back to the below average action sections of the game.
Pretty much the only thing that they did right with Actraiser is in the graphics (well, they did it half-right). The action scenes look real nice, with very detailed character sprites and nice looking backgrounds and environments. The strategy section on the other hand looks pretty poor. Your angel looks nice, but all the enemies you are shooting down look bland, as do all the people on the ground and all the houses they are building. Just overall everything in the strategy section is completely plain.
In the end, Actraiser is just one of those things where when you hear about it, you think it could be a great idea, but when you actually try it you realize it sucks (kind of like the movie "You Got Served"... WHAAAT). Could there one day be a fantastic mix of action and strategy games? Yes. Is Actraiser this fantastic mix? No. For now those genres stay seperate, and the question to the answer of the meaning of life remains unknown.
Community review by icehawk (November 22, 2005)
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