Engaging multi-genre gameplay.

User Rating: 8.7 | Actraiser SNES
In the early days of Super Nintendo’s existence, publisher Enix came up with one of the most interesting games on the system’s entire line-up to this date. Actraiser was the name, and until this day, fans of it have been longing to see a update of this ever classic that once graced the Super Nintendo. Of course there was Actraiser 2, which released on the popularity of the first but for some reason it didn’t quite capture the magic that it’s predecessor did. Geared with dynamically engaging gameplay, an incredible soundtrack, and a brilliant new multi-genre, Actraiser couldn’t help but attract fans of games like Sim City and Mario-style platforming with a dark-aged feel. The legend that is Actraiser surely lives on. When you begin the game, you may be a little lost (especially if you haven’t taken in the story in the instruction manual first). You are basically an angel, you possesses the powers to summon miraculous happenings in order to make lands prosper from evil inhabitants. You as the Angel, must fight and rid the six lands from Tanzra’s evil monsters who inhabit it. You will start as the cherub in the Sky Palace (sort of like your transport, looks like a hot-air balloon) and start ridding monsters on a land called Fillmore. Within the two scenarios, you will always fight first (platform style), and then after clearing the first Act, you will then enter the simualtion Sim City-style mode. In each Act (there are two in every level) you will take on a lengthy level with mounds of enemies, possibly a sub-boss or two, and then a final boss. When entering the platform style side-scrolling levels, you are sent down to an inanimate statue and must fight side-scroll style. You are equipped naturally with a sword, and your Sources of Magic. Throught the game, you will be able to collect additional source of magic stocks as well as additional sources of magics. You will start by finding the Star Dust power, which simply sends flaming “stars” down on the screen eliminating all enemies on the screen. Of course, each power serves it’s own purpose, and others are suited for their own scenarios. Most of the magics will be found in the simulation modes. Acquiring these are of utmost importance to completing the game, simply because it makes defeating enemies easier. After you complete Act 1, you will be sent into the land you’ve just defeated. This is the simualtion mode, where you will play as the cherub that you see in the sky palace. The first land, Fillmore, will be your starting place to build a civilization and people to live in it. You being pracitcally a god will be able to summon builders, weather happenings (miracles), speak with the land guardians, and accept gifts from that land. You will also be able to check the statuses of your lands to make sure your people are happy or depressed enough to stop building. On each land, specific weather miracles are needed. There are many different weather effects like Thunder to destroy trees, Wind, Sun, Rain, and Earthquakes. For instance, in Fillmore, trees will need to be destroyed in order to build on, and in Northwall, snow will need to be melted with the powers of the sun. In order to use these powers, you will need to build and collect MP to use such powers. As your experience level increases, you will gain more storage to hold MP to summon more greater powers such as earthquakes. You could probably bet that you will need to use them all (yes, even the earthquake) even if once, through out the game. Before building your land, you will need to seal a number of enemy lairs. By doing so, enemies on the maps will not be able to steal your people, burn their homes, or dry their crops. Also, once all the enemy lairs have been sealed, you will be able to enter Act 2 of the land. Act 2, pits you up against a new area in the land that inhabits monsters, and for that, you must fight and rid of them. Of course Act 2 missions are optional, since after Act 1 is completed, you’ve basically cleared the threat. However, sometimes you may need to enter Act 2 levels to complete lands and get the extras that are discovered once they are defeated. You will find out that completing Act 2 missions are vital for completing the second land, Bloodpool. Of the six different lands, Fillmore is a heavily forested land that will teach you the basics of building homes and bridges. Bloodpool is the land where you must discover the mystery of the Blood-filled lake. Kassandora is the land where you must discover the mysteries of the vast deserts. In Aitos, you will need to stop the monsters inside the imminent volcanoes from destroying the land. In Mirahna, you will need to delve deep into the jungles to temples and reunite the two islands. And finally, in Northwall, you will need to relieve the land from it’s desolate snow-filled mountains and caves where monsters hide under think mounds of snow-covered land. Each of Actraiser’s lands are filled with all different kinds of challenge from new bosses to new environments so you won’t feel like you’ve played the same level twice. In order to advance to these further lands (beyond Fillmore), you will need to build current lands up enough and by doing so you will even earn yourself more health for simulation and platform missions. Basically the goal to success is building the most prosperous lands possible. What really brings fourth such a speciality in Actraiser is the outstanding soundtrack. The music of Actraiser nearly pushes amazing CD-quality scores. Take Northwall for instance, the gental sounds of the harp are used in conjunction with the light snow falling in the desolate background reveals one of the most beautiful game settings ever. Upon hearing this track, you will easily want this soundtrack so you can hear Yuzo Koshiro brilliant composition anytime. Actraiser contants a spectrum of different sounds from harps, to bone-chilling, to glorious organs. Take the creepy Egyptian sounds of the Pyramid theme or the orchestral Northwall Tree that sounds like a uplifting symphony are just to name a few of what can be heard in it’s brilliance on a 16-bit cartridge. Without a doubt, Actraiser has the best music I’ve ever heard in any video game to this date. Another thing I bring up about Actraiser is the excellent monster designs. Many of them range from greek mythological hybrids to Hindu gods to flame wheels. All of them designed with such a ancient imaginative underscore. Six lands, twelve acts, and around six to seven hours of solid gameplay. The only downfall is that Actraiser’s addictive gameplay only lasts under ten hours, a game you may easily conquer in a weekend. After Actraiser is complete, there will be a sure bet you’ll want to play more of this incredible game. Simply a best in third-party gaming on the Super Nintendo.