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ActRaiser (SNES) artwork

ActRaiser (SNES) review

"Are you there Master? It's me, Tanzra. See, I've got this problem. I want to destroy all of civilization and plunge the world into chaos, but you're the only thing that stands in my way. So, I think I'll just seal away your powers for awhile... "

Are you there Master? It's me, Tanzra. See, I've got this problem. I want to destroy all of civilization and plunge the world into chaos, but you're the only thing that stands in my way. So, I think I'll just seal away your powers for awhile...

And thus begins the harrowing tale of the Master, as he struggles to reclaim the world he created and regain his abilities of godliness. Unfortunately for the Master, the world starts from scratch--typical Quintet fashion. The Master, which is you, awakens from his magic induced slumber to find the world devoid of followers and a few servants running his floating palace in the sky. As the Master emerges from his temple abode, he soon discovers his purpose: revenge. Sure, the game plays it off as if you have to reawaken humanity and destroy the monsters plaguing the land, but we all know it really revolves around the "r" word. After all, wouldn't you want to get back at the creature who sealed you away, especially if you're a god and all AND it's one of your own creations?

So off goes our vengeful Master. The game follows a pretty formulaic rhythm: Kill the starting boss, build the town through the simulation mode, kill some more, and finally move on to another area. And while this is simplistic, it's undeniably fun. The game is divided into two forms, simulation and action. The action sequences pit the Master in avatar form against the hordes of monsters plaguing the area in platformer style. If you listen carefully, you'll discover that Quintet really likes to recycle sound effects (Play this, then go play Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia. You'll know what I mean.). In the action sequences, your score does count towards something. The higher the score, the more "souls" released when you beat the level, up until a maximum point. This affects the maximum population of each area, and ultimately what level your character will end at.

The typical level should last no more than 10 minutes, lest you have a faulty Super Nintendo controller. The Master is a beast, sailing through environments with ease, cutting apart everything as if he were a weedwacker. This should be expected, you are the avatar of a god. The limiting annoyance is the complete lack of abilities. One would expect a god, let alone a wounded god, to have some sort of magical powers, despite having his power sealed away. Well, you do, you just have to find them, and even then, you're limited to one spell to select per level. This ultimately means you must choose wisely, out of a total of 5 spells. I found the Starstorm to be most effective, because of the wide coverage and multiple hits. Just imagine, a winged angel raising his sword gloriously and having fire and brimstone rain upon demon scum in all its 16 bit glory. Seconds later, you find yourself triumphant and your people saved, praising you in all your glory. Irony can soon be followed if you wish. Out of all your sim abilities, Earthquake is the coolest. It allows one said deity named Master to
level the entire map and force them to rebuild. All level 3 buildings will survive the onslaught, so this sort of ability should be saved for when one civilization is advanced enough. Yes, you reward progress with destruction, all in the name of munchkinism and maxing stats.

See, your level and HP is directly tied with the maximum population. Higher population = higher level = higher HP. The only way to achieve a maximum population is to score as high as possible during the 2 stages per town and leaving only level 3 buildings standing. Thus, it's a good thing to indulge in your dark side. If that doesn't suit your needs, you can invoke many other environmental effects, such as lightning and rain. You will, as each map is filled with hazards that prevent you from being godly and having maxed HP. Ultimately, destruction is the word of the day.

Once you liberate the world from the hoards of demons, you shall finally have your vengence in a showdown with Tanzra, but not before having a battle royal with his newly reincarnated demon generals. Victory is not too sweet. This game has one of the saddest, yet truest, endings for a game. I won't give anything away, but it's disappointing from the perspective of the Master (but not to you).

As far as simulation games go, I don't think it gets better than this. I realize that this was a launch title for the SNES, but it still is extremely fun.

Nothing beats raining fire and brimstone upon the heads of your enemies, lashing lightning upon your citizens, placing well aimed arrows into flying skulls, or watching as your citizens flail while they get carried off by a dragon. Graphically, it may look primitive compared to today's 3D graphics obsessed standards requiring 2 gigs of RAM, but it hits the spot. 16 years later, Act Raiser is still as solid of a title as it was at the launch of the holy Super Nintendo. Here's hoping it will be 10 years from now too.

rabix's avatar
Community review by rabix (September 03, 2007)

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