SummaryThe first God-game for the Super Nintendo is arguably still the best.
The GoodIn terms of gameplay, Actraiser successfully combines traditional side-scrolling action with a fresh approach to the God-game genre. Just as one begins to grow tired of herding and caring for worshippers in the overworld portion of the game, Enix directs the player to action sequences where it's necessary for 'God' to take mortal form to deal with a unique threat. It's a smart combination the keeps things interesting throughout the entire game.
Graphics are, overall, generally above average, with intelligent use of scaling and rotation in the side-scrolling sequences. Sprites are very clean and colorful, but animation is oftentimes simply adequate if not less-so, especially in the overworld. However the action scenes serve as a visual breath of fresh air and outweigh any great negativity that can be said about the game's looks. It's almost as if two completely separate art teams worked on a particular gameplay type.
In terms of sound, effects consist mainly of high quality samples. The soundtrack is also very good--at times I would leave the game running while taking a break from play, simply to hear it in the background.
The BadThe overworld portions of the game often feel very scripted. Past PC-based games of this type are conversely mostly open ended. However it's understandable to a point due to Actraiser's linear story progression, but the game could've benefitted from a bit more freedom; optional side-quests in particular.
The controls in the action sequences feel somewhat stiff in comparison to other 2-d action games, a good example being the Castlevania series. While it gets the job done, Actraiser could have benefitted from giving the player more diverse methods of control other than slash, jump/slash, duck/slash, spell.
The Bottom LineActraiser is a hybrid game that successfully combines two established genres into one fully featured product. By assuming the role of a deity, players can exert god-like powers over the land to encourage worship while protecting one's followers from the forces of evil. And when earthquakes and lightning fail to keep the peace, one can bring the sword to the enemy by taking control of a mortal avatar of god. One part 'God-game', one part 'Action/Adventure', Actraiser is all good.