Review by coocoo66
A great game overshadowed by its predecessor
There are some games that suffer from their titles. When a prequel to a game is great, it's easy to make an unpopular sequel. ActRaiser was known for its combination of action/platforming and town sim elements. Many dislike ActRaiser 2 for removing the sim element. Though I've never played ActRaiser, I often heard that the action part of the game was a bit... standard. I'm not trying to knock the game, I eventually want to play it. Actraiser 2 may not have any town simulation, but it is a top-notch action title. And certainly not a standard one.
In ActRaiser 2, you control the Master, a winged warrior who watches over his followers on Earth. An evil force has sent demons across Earth to corrupt its people. It's up to you to journey city by city and return Earth to a peaceful state. The game's story is definitely good for an action game, especially one over 10 years old. The whole premise of controlling a god-like figure and watching over humans is very interesting, and the game even tries to teach the player a few things about life. Our master will journey through side-scrolling levels that are very creatively designed. No level feels like a repeat. Each level involves different methods of completion, whether it be going through a maze or precise platforming. The boss fights are all excellent, challenging, and very memorable. Our master has the ability to fly, slash in various directions with his sword, or use magical abilities. My only gripe with the gameplay is the abundance of cheap hits and sometimes deaths. Though the life bar is pretty large, there were more than a few times where I ran into unavoidable hits and got very angry. But this isn't really overwhelming. A password after every completed level reduces the frustration, and on easy mode the game is beatable yet quite challenging. I haven't played Normal, so I recommend selecting easy. I still thought it was fairly difficult. But no areas were too tough. I'm not an expert gamer, and I still beat this in a few days.
Graphically, ActRaiser 2 is stunning. Every level is full of rich and vibrant colors, and coupled with the game's excellent presentation, ActRaiser 2 looks like a work of art. The drawings of environments and enemies are detailed. The soundtrack of ActRaiser 2 is excellent, as would be expected from Yuzo Koshiro. it definitely helps give the game an epic atmosphere. Luckily, many enemies have a certain cartoonish look, keeping the game from getting too serious.
Length wise, ActRaiser 2 is average for a 16-bit title. The game will last about 2-3 days of hardcore playing, and there's not much of a reason to replay, unless to try a harder difficulty.
If there was ever a game that had an undeservedly bad reputation, ActRaiser 2 is it. I don't see how there can be so much animosity towards a great game like this. Yes, it can get tough at times, but it's not too tough, thanks to passwords and a big life bar. This one's price is fairly low, so pick it up if you find it. If you can put your prejudices aside, you'll find a 1st-rate title.
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