ActRaiser review - Super Nintendo

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ActRaiser box artA masterpiece of game design originally released in the early days of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, ActRaiser’s enduring popularity stems from its revolutionary combination of action and simulation-based gameplay. Take control of the Master, a dethroned deity whose once-idyllic world has fallen under the control of the Evil One. Stripped of his divinity, the Master must somehow put an end to the Evil One's reign and rebuild this now-desolate realm.

Gameplay alternates between two modes: Action and Simulation. In Action mode, the Master must battle against impossible odds to pacify six lands. Pacifying a land unlocks Simulation mode. In this mode, the Master must oversee the development and repopulation of the territory he has reclaimed. In doing so, he will gain followers who gradually restore his godly might, empowering him to take back the next land and, ultimately, to defeat the Evil One.

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" Although this has loads of Japanese text, understanding it isn't vital to the game, and while it might look complicated, it's surprisingly easy to control the action once you've learned what the icons do. And once you get into it, it's difficult to stop playing. The creation part is enjoyable, but the best bits are the six graphically incredible parallax-scrolling arcade levels (just check out the screenshots). Not only do they look good, but they sound utterly amazing - it's like there's a full orchestra inside the Super Famicom! The gameplay is tough, almost frustrating at times, but the quality of the entire program is so good, you just keep on coming back for more. If you're lucky enough to own a Super Famicom, this is an absolute must. "

" At first glance, this looked like a Populous rip-off with its "control your minions" idea. Once I studied the game in more depth, its great playability came apparent. The arcade sections are fantastic, and feature the best music ever heard on a console or computer and offer a challenge that's tough without being dispiriting. The graphics are also outstanding, especially in the final showdown. The strategic element works well, although it may put off some people - they'd be silly to miss a game of this quality. If you've a Super Famicom, this MUST be your next purchase! "


Overall Score91%

Retrospective comments


When I saw the review of this game in Mean Machines I was quite literally heartbroken. My Megadrive was (technically, at least) no longer the most powerful console in the world. Nintendo's new machine was special - the glorious screenshots splashed across the pages of the magazine proved that much at least - and the Mean Machines team gave this game a glowing review, too. I simply had to play this game.

When I eventually got around to doing so (I had to wait until the PAL release) the impact of the title had not lessened one bit. The game concept is genius and you have to wonder why no one has tried this since. The platforming sections are as good as any other game you could mention, and coupled with the brilliant 'God Sim' portion of the game it made for a classic title. Some might say that the two types of gameplay don't sit together too well, but I personally loved it. It was unusual and unique and at the time it felt suitably cutting-edge. However, my dad hated it as he was into his God sims and he couldn't progress through the platform sections!

A special mention must go to the music - composed by Yuzo Koshiro (of Streets of Rage fame), it really is a generation apart from some of the Megadrive music around at the time.

Dan - 24 Feb 2009, 16:29 GMT

"Once I studied the game in more depth, its great playability came apparent" - Ha ha, wtf? Pipe down Matt u mong ;)

Anyway, Actraiser was absolutely spunk-muchingly friggin fanny-whoresum-tastic!! Everything about it was truely amaizing, EVERYTHING. Graphics, music (ooohhh, sooooooooooooo good), level design, bosses, god-section, special weapons, secrets, atmosphere, rpg element, etc. etc. etc. All of em were beyond anything at the time and a lot of things since. 91% was to low a score, it deserved the 95-98% mark for sure. I bum it.

GEORGE - 08 Jan 2010, 17:30 GMT

Actraiser what a classic game on a classic console it deserved at least 96%

the least said about the iffy sequel the better

Andrew Laggan - 20 Jun 2011, 18:16 GMT

One of the best side-scrolling platformers of the 16-bit era and a 96% score in C&VG upon it's release if I remember correctly! Super visuals, original gameplay with a unique blend of sideways scrolling action and RPG style 'Sim City' elements and one of the best musical scores ever to be heard in a videogame. Beware of the poor sequel, which despite stunning visuals, was an unoriginal sluggish platformer lacking the originality which made the original such a joy. A remake for the Nintendo DS would do very nicely indeed!

digi-d - 13 Oct 2013, 12:01 GMT

Classic SFC/SNES game - happy for it to still be in my games collection :-)

Andreas Ã…kermark Wernlund - 25 May 2015, 10:38 GMT

Actraiser starts out quite easy but packs som real challenge once you get further. The graphics and sound is what makes this game so great. Pushing the Super Nintendos powers to the limit. Mixing side scrolling platform stages with overhead god sim levels offers an unique gameplay. Overall score: 100%

Mean Machines Issue 7 - April 1991
Platform Game Super Nintendo
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