Review by Psycho Penguin

"Build a town, save a town from evil monsters, do it again, and do it again!"

Sometimes, a game comes along and totally surprises me. This game comes along every once in a while, but not as often as I would like. Some of the games that have fallen under this category include, but are not limited to, Blaster Master, Dragon Warrior 3, and, more recently, Tales of Destiny. One of the most memorable games I found that fell under this category was a game called Act Raiser. I remember it pretty fondly.

ActRaiser was a game released in 1991 by Enix (developed by Quintet), for the Super Nintendo. It is truly one of the all times classics, and it really surprised me, because I really was not expecting too much out of it. I got the game on the back end of a huge game trade in which I also received Final Fantasy 2, Final Fantasy 3, and Super Mario All Stars. With all of those classic games, I was expecting Act Raiser to be nothing more than filler. But it actually turned out to be much more than just ''that extra game in the deal''.

The thing I liked most about Act Raiser was how different the game play was. It was much more varied than the average game, because it actually combined two different genres into one game, and pulled it off virtually without a hitch. I really enjoyed playing this game, because of the fact it had side scrolling game elements, but also strategy game elements, as well. When I first played this game, it was a basic side scroller, and I thought ''oh great, another one!''. But, I soon realized the game was so much more. It turned out to be one of the most fun game play experiences I have ever had.

There is a fairly interesting story line to the game, although it doesn't really start off as much. You are basically thrust into one of those action stages, then you are suddenly assuming control of an entire world, where you are basically a god among the people, and you need to save them from some various destructive things. The game starts off with virtually no story line, which is interesting, but it is well developed throughout the game, as you need to do stuff like save a person's son, or to see some relationships bloom. So, despite the fact that there is not one main story line, I was impressed with the story line nevertheless because of how well devloped it was.

The graphics were definitely varied. The graphics in the side scrolling action stages are simply awesome. I was especially impressed with the vivid character designs and backgrounds. The enemy designs were also solid, as there was definitely a nice variety of enemy designs in the game. The backgrounds took the cake, though, and I was definitely impressed with how colorful and varied they were. The character designs, well there was one main character, and he looked pretty cool, although he was kind of strong, I guess that is why he is a god and all.

On the opposite end of the graphical spectrum, there are the graphics featured in the overhead view (I call them ''the strategy sections''). The graphics are all right here, but could have been better. The backgrounds are not terribly distracting, as they are rather plain, but look at the houses and people, not much detail, but I was not expecting that and can understand why there is no detail in these things (because they just are not that important). Overall, I was fairly impressed with the graphics in the game.

The music and sound effects in the game are awesome. I loved the music in Act Raiser, so much so that I am going to log onto Napster after I am done this review and see if I can download some songs from this game off there. The music was simply awesome, and was some of the best music I ever heard on the Super Nintendo. It was especially cool how the music changed when something bad was about to happen, although the melodic tune of the main parts of the strategy sections was just plain annoying, to say the absolute least, in my opinion. The sound effects could have been better, and I could have lived without tha annoying sound effect that kept on playing every time I tried to do something in a menu. It would affect every menu and got very annoying to listen to after a while.

The control in the game could have used a little bit of work, but it was still solid nevertheless. The control was better in the side scrolling action stages than it was in the strategy sections. For instance, let me point out one of the most annoying aspects of the control in this game. The B button is used to accept commands instead of the A button. I got sick of this after about the sixth time I pushed A instead of B. And than the wonderful developers decided not to include a way to change the control pattern, so you are basically stuck with the same one the whole game. Joy. At least the control in the side scrolling action stages was great, as it was easy to do everything.

The game itself was very fun to play. At first, it may seem like the game is just another one of those boring side scrolling games. After all, it starts off by having you go through a side scrolling action stage. While it is fun, I am definitely proud to say the game soon improves by adding a strategy section to the game, which means it is more varied and fun. I will go in depth on each section in a minute, but let me explain the basis of this game. You start off in a side scrolling action stage, after you complete this stage you can now go around the world map, trying to colonize entire sections. After you colonize the entire world, you can fight the final fight and save the world!

I was impressed with the side scrolling action sections of the games. While I expected them to be kind of boring, they actually turned out to be pretty fun. I especially like how you needed to figure out the pattern of certain enemies, it was a pretty novel idea and it added a lot in terms of strategy to the scenes. Speaking of strategy, the game combines the action screens I just discussed with a strategy type game. In this, you can basically colonize entire sections of the world. To do this, you need to complete a goal, go through the first action stage, fight off the monsters in the town (it is fun, and you can build levels this way), and then go through the second action stage. It is definitely fun, and I like the different variety of strategy sections there are, like trying to save a son, etc.

Despite the fact I definitely enjoyed playing through Act Raiser, I did not exactly find it to have supreme replay value. However, I did find it to be a highly entertaining game, that I have played through a few times. While others may see how tough and long this game is and not replay through it many times, I played through it a few times, because it is so fun. The game offers a save feature, so you can come back later and finish what you started. That is to be expected, because the game is so big. It was definitely fun, however, and I am sure you will find the time to at least complete the game once. Maybe you will even go back and complete it again.

Simply put, this is a pretty challenging game, but not as challenging as others may make it seem out to be. The action stages were not that tough, besides the last few, as I tore through them with little effort. However, the strategy sections of the game required me to use my brain a little, and that was tough for me. So, I will say that the strategy part was pretty tough. Some of the monsters later on could not be killed, so you had to think of other ways to get rid of them. It was tough, especially when three or four of those monsters would attack your village.

Overall, I was totally impressed by the quality of this game, and I am pretty sure you will be too. It is not the greatest video game ever made, but it sure does come close to being that. As an action game alone, it would have been great. As a strategy game alone, it would have been great. Combine the two, and you get the best of both worlds, which is a fantastic game. This game is definitely well worth a purchase, as there are few better games to find on the Super Nintendo than this gem. A cool thing to point out about this game is the fact it was one of the first Super Nintendo games ever released. It is a shame the sequel to this game sucked as badly as it did. I expected that game to rule, maybe I will review it another day, because it certainly did not do the sequel justice!

Good Points
-The music was simply awesome, some of the best I have heard on Super Nintendo.
-The graphics in the game (at least the side scrolling action stages) were colorful and wonderful.
-I really enjoyed the story line development within the game, that progressed throughout.
-The side scrolling action stages were fun and well balanced.
-The strategy section was fun, and well thought out.
-Combine the two, and you have one of the most fun games available!

Not So Good Points
-The game could have benefited from one main story line.
-The sound effects, especially the menu one, were pretty annoying.
-The side scrolling action stages could have been a little better.
-I really did not like the whole ''you are a god!'' part of the game and story line.
-The graphics in the strategy sections of the game were not that good.

I Run Down the Ratings.. DaLadiesMan Style!
Story Line - 6.8/10
Graphics - 9.2/10
Music - 9.7/10
Sound Effects - 9.2/10
Control - 9.3/10
Game Play - 9.7/10
Replay Value - Above Average (Mike Sanders)
Challenge - Above Average (Mike Sanders)
Is this game worth a purchase? - Definitely.
Overall - 9.6/10

The Last Line
Do not think that you will not like this game, because chances are you will. I did not expect much from this game when I first got it, mainly because of what else I got with it, but it grew on me, and now is one of my all time favorite Super Nintendo. The graphics are great, the music is unreal, the sound effects are decent for the most part, the control is solid, and the game is actually fun to play. Enix and Quintlet really did a great job of combining the strategy game and side scrolling action game genres, and the result is a fantastic game that may just be one of the best ever. This game is well worth a purchase.

And that is the bottom line, because DaLadiesMan said so!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/01, Updated 07/16/01


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