Review by fduboo

Reviewed: 02/11/00 | Updated: 02/11/00

A company takes their famous series to new heights.

Actraiser was an early classic for the beloved Super Nintendo. It featured above-average sidescrolling action and a decent town-building simulation that actually resulted in an interesting hybrid. In the sequel, you still play the role of the world's Master, assisted by several angels in bettering the lives of the people down below on the earth. Although you defeated Tanzra in your previous quest, his minions (represented by deadly sins and evil character traits) are attempting to revive him by striking at vital areas throughout the world. By breaking the spirits of the people, they hope to create enough weakness in the world to allow the evil beast to resurface from his torpor. You must inhabit the body of an ancient winged warrior and fight through many side scrolling stages in order to put a stop to this

The graphics are gritty and dark, with detail that really makes a case for the SNES' power back in its heyday. Gratis (the creepiest area) is dank and dim, with murky waters and mutated creatures inhabiting its catacombs. The Master (hero) is well animated, especially in his gliding motions with the wings. The magic that the hero can cast is also well done, with effects that are impressive but don't interrupt the action.

Excellent. They range from claustrophobic tribal beats to romping soldier marches, and the bombastic boss music won't disappoint. The sound effects have come a long way from the previous game, with lightning and fire effects crackling and snapping appropriately.

This can get a little hairy. As the hero, you have a multitude of options in your assaults on the enemies, including gliding, slashing your sword in every direction, and casting magic spells by holding down the attack button. You can chose between different spells by pressing different directions on the control pad or jumping or gliding just before you cast the spell. Thankfully, the Magic Bombs (best attack) are performed simply by pressing up before you release the button, but other useful magic (like Phoenix magic) require extremely difficult conditions to be met in order to be cast. This can get annoying, but not overly so. However, most of the other controls are rock solid and do the action game genre proud. They beat the original in every aspect.

Many people were disappointed because this game lacks the town building elements that made its successor so wildly popular, but I think this was a smart move. Enix took the series in a different direction (and they did it well), and I think another game in the same vein would have seemed old and stale (see my Suikoden 2 review for another, more current example of this problem). What you do get is a top-notch side scroller that just won't quit. There are sp many enemies and techniques to master that you will be plugging at this game forever. It is EXTREMELY challenging (one of the hardest games I have played), but it's the kind of challenge that lightly taunts you and makes you beg for more. The environments are also varied enough that you don't get bored with the saturated action genre.

The story isn't central to the game's effectiveness, but what is here is good. The angels tell you much about the towns and how your actions affect the history of the world (for better or maybe...for worse?). Sure, the ''boss is trying to be resurrected'' theme has been done before, but few have done it this well.

Replay Value
High for an action game, as there are several difficulty levels that make this game almost impossible (but beatable). Defeating this on the hardest mode is truly an accomplishment (I had one level to go when winter break ended this year!!!).

Average (8/10)...This is a great little game to play. Actraiser 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable game with all the right touches that make it refreshing. Enix, you may have taken some flack for this, but you did the right thing.

Rating: 8

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