Review by CodieKitty

Reviewed: 12/27/02 | Updated: 12/27/02

Tonight, A FOX News Special: When ActRaiser Goes Bad

ActRaiser was one of the first Super Nintendo games, and also one of the best. It combined platform sword-hacking with SimCity-style town building. Now, let's go forward two or three years. Now we have ActRaiser 2, which is almost ActRaiser inverted; almost everything that was good is now bad, almost everything that was bad is good, almost everything that was in the middle is still in the middle. And I didn't find anything seriously wrong with ActRaiser...

After sitting through the introduction (the game makes it look so easy), you're filled in on what's going on. The demon Tanzra is still around, and wishes for revenge on the Master for defeating him some time before. His cohorts come up with a plan to weaken the will of the people of Earth so Tanzra can gain the strength to destroy them all. In order to save his people, the Master must inhabit the body of an ancient winged warrior. It always happens. The bad guy was suppose to have been slain, but he's always just ''badly wounded'' and recovers.

For those who've never played it, ActRaiser had two modes of gameplay. One was a platforming mode that had the Master hacking his mighty sword at demons and such, and the other involved building a town ala SimCity, only money wasn't needed to build it. Just hitting trees and rocks with lightning, shooting arrows at monsters that tried to destroy the town, and letting the people do the work. Those who have played ActRaiser and greatly enjoyed this mode, guess what. It's gone. Now it's only the sword-hacking mode, like the hidden Professional mode.

When the game is started, we start on the map. There's several areas on the map. Some give out information on what's happening in the world, and some are playable areas. You can also get passwords if you try to land somewhere you can't land, although the letters are too fancy. (''What's that? A C or a G?'').

When a playable area is selected, we start playing as the Master, who must battle past monster after monster to the end of the stage, where he will then fight a big monster that's causing serious damage to his world. And the bosses are crap. While they have patterns, they have very lousy ones. And one I had trouble hitting because it seemed I had to hit it in the dead center.

The one major problem with this game is that's the challenge is INSANE. There's three difficulty modes, and ''Easy'' is hard. I shudder at the thought of what Hard must be like. The controls are downright pathetic, and the level designs are nuts. In one level there's some big, long pits with some kind of monster at the bottom which I've no idea how you're suppose to get across without falling in at the end, taking a lot of damage, and jumping out. Speaking of monsters, enemies appear at random, as well as regenerate. So, if the Master struggles up step after step fighting off monsters only to fall all the way back down because some monster smacks him at the top, guess what he has to do all over again.

And if the Master gets killed before reaching the checkpoint (could be right in front of the boss, could be halfway through the stage), he has to start from the beginning of the stage. And if the checkpoint isn't right before the boss, he has to start from THERE if the boss kills him because he has too little HP to survive the fight because of all the enemies getting thrown at him during the trek and no recovery items. ActRaiser at least put some kind of recovery item before most bosses.

In ActRaiser, the Master was easy to control. Okay, he couldn't jump very high. Probably because his footwear was heavy. The Master has changed his footwear, and now wears the finest boots in Crisco Footwear, and it results in him skidding off that narrow pillar he was trying to land on and off the bottom of the stage, or into oncoming enemies when he tries to land from gliding. The Master also has to take his steps very carefully because of his new footwear, and walks patience-draining slow. And that's just the start of the controls...

The magic in the game can be quite cumbersome to use. You have to hold the Attack button while your flash and keep it down until you want to use it, and let go. I mean, what if I want to use the flamethrower while I'm in the air? Can't do it. You end up using some frost attack that I didn't find too useful. First the setting up of the attack is weird, then the execution is pretty bad.

I did not find the graphics to be an improvement over ActRaiser. I find the backgrounds a bit clearer and more detailed, but also duller. I also don't find the enemies as good. While they're detailed, but I'm not fond the actual appearance. They all look like mutants out of the Cave area in Phantasy Star Online. And it wasn't just the enemies that got altered. Enix also messed with the Master. He actually looked nice in ActRaiser. Here, he's a muscle-bound winged swordsman who seems to be wearing only a long loincloth and boots (although a closer look reveals him to be wearing a helmet as well). There's not much to see here.

ActRaiser had some of the best music I've ever heard from a Super Nintendo game. From the time I first plugged in the game, I was amazed. It was energetic and had a nice beat, especially the music that played on the Bloodpool stages. Here, the music is slow, depressing, and very repetitive. In the first few stages where you go into a forest, you've got this droning song that I guess is suppose to be dramatic and creepy, but comes out boring and you hear that same jump in the tune every thirty seconds. Okay, some ActRaiser music was reused. The title screen and that little ''descending'' tune. Big whoopty-doo.

The sound effects aren't annoying or anything, mainly because the majority of them are straight from ActRaiser. Anyone who's heard ActRaiser's sound effects has heard ActRaiser 2's sound effects. For those who haven't heard ActRaiser's sound effects, think about Soul Blazer's sound effects (I found them to be straight from ActRaiser too). Anyone who hasn't played either of those, I can't describe them and all I can say is they're decent. I'm sorry.

Plot: 6/10
Gameplay: 3/10
Control: 3/10
Graphics: 6/10
Sound: 5/10
Overall: 3/10

ActRaiser was a classic. But with most classics comes a crappy sequel. Okay, some games got great sequels (like StarFox). Too bad ActRaiser couldn't be one of them. Only get this if it is very cheap, which may be as hard as this game.

Rating: 3

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