When the Super Nintendo launched gamers were promised it would not be just more of the same. While early on, games like Pilotwings was certainly the epitome of this belief. Then came games like ActRaiser by Enix. Upon looking at the back of the box you would think this is just another 2D side scrolling action game with an overworld – much like the Super Nintendo pack-in title, Super Mario World. You would be about 50% right in that belief. ActRaiser was much more. Fans already knew this.
Since North America is very religious we saw some censoring done to the storyline of ActRaiser. The biggest is “God” in the Japanese original was changed to “The Master” in the North American release. Satan was changed to “Tanzra”. Not big changes but still, kind of pointless. Anyhow, the story of ActRaiser is similar to the battle between good and evil. The Master is locked in eternal battle with Tanzra (sound familiar?). Tanzra gets the upper hand, thanks to his six lieutenants, and defeats The Master. This puts The Master in the unique position of having to hide away and heal, which he does for quite a long time. When fully healed The Master prepares to return and realizes that his powers are diminished due to lack of faith in him by the populace. Also, in his absence Tanzra has run roughshod over the citizens and broken the world up into six lands (levels).
Now, how you handle your task of reuniting the world is what makes ActRaiser unique to other, similar, games. There is an over world map where you interact with the citizens, your people. They may ask for help directly or you may have to discern what needs to be done. Obviously helping the populace will increase your powers and progress the game.
When you are ready for action you will find the real fun of ActRaiser. The action levels are good, challenging and different. To say ActRaiser set a decently high watermark for other games to challenge – not many achieved similar status.
If you want to relive the fun of ActRaiser on the Super Nintendo then hit Ebay and start slaying monsters again.