An extremely original Enix game that combines elements of platformers, RPGs, and... God sims?

User Rating: 9.2 | Actraiser SNES
I'm a huge fan of Quintet's games. They're the ones responsible for Illusion of Gaia and Terrangima, both of which are incredible RPGs. On a whim, I decided to try out one of those games I always used to see in the rental stores as a kid, but never actually rented. That game was Actraiser. I should point out that the version I played was the Japanese version (the equivalent of professional mode in the USA version), and was much much harder. This, however, did not detract from the fun in the least.

In this game, you take the role of, well, God. Satan has messed up the world and you have to fix it so humans can inhabit it again. This partly consists of going through levels (ala platformer) in a fairly straightforward fashion. The levels themselves reminded me of the Megaman games without the pixel-perfect jumps. It takes a few tries to get the lay of the level so you don't go diving into spike pits (one-hit kills, btw), but after that it's a fun, short romp that's ended by a usually tricky boss. Each have unique strategies to beat. After you get through the first level (act 1), you enter the sim part of the game.

In the sim areas, you use your Godly miracle powers to clear paths for the humans to develop. In addition to this, you must keep flying enemies such as bats and dragons at bay while the little humans toil away. Events happen along the way, such as discovering a new spell for God to use, or other power-ups. As the population increases, so does your level (which caps at 3,000, I believe, totaled over all 6 towns). Eventually, an event will occur that will put the lives of the humans in danger, and then you must enter act 2 and defeat another boss. At that point, you will pretty much be done with that area, unless you choose to develop some more (leveling up).

Once the six towns are cleared, you can challenge Satan. You have to defeat all six act 2 bosses in a row, and then also beat Satan's two forms. This was not a fun feat in the Japanese version, that's all I can say.

Most games that try to encompass more than one genre fall flat by trying to do too much in too little space. Actraiser is the perfect example of how to do it right! Not only is the gameplay solid, but the premise is interesting, and the soundtrack is damn good too (Yuzo Koshiro of Ys fame did a marvelous job). I'm not speaking from nostalgia either; I just picked this game up two days ago and played it for the first time. It's 17 years old, and still relevant and a must-play. That's saying something.