There’s a saying about Nostalgia and seeing things through rose colored glasses. Unfortunately I can’t remember it so I’m just going to sum up what a number of commenters were talking about in Jonathan Higgins’ RPGs Aren’t What They Used To Be. Things will never be as good as you remember. You’ll always look fondly upon things from the past because you remember what it was like then. You will always look back on things like that with nostalgic glasses on.
And that seems to be the case with most things. We always look back and remember the good old days of things. We remember what it was like before things like a constant stream of FPS games coming out every year or cartoonish graphics ruining our favorite franchises or voice acting in games. Who is really to judge if the past was any good compared to now?
Here are my qualifications: I never had a NES and my playing experience from it was mostly Mario and Baseball. My first console was a SNES with games like Super Mario World, SMW2: Yoshi’s Island, 2 Super Star Wars games, Tetris Attack, and a slew of sports titles (and before anyone starts making fun of me, let me just say that if any of you say anything bad about NHL ’94 I will cut you). I did have a Genesis but it was the late 90’s and I only had Sonic, Earthworm Jim, and a few sports games. When it comes to retro gaming, I’m as clean a slate as you can find.
Now, I’m not alone in this. There are others on the Oprainfall staff that had played very little of the older games. One such gamer, Kyle Emch, will also be contributing to this series as well.
So, for those of us that had never played any of the supposed classics, do any of these games make the cut now? As we sit on the eve of the Wii U, let’s look back at the dawn of the SNES with one of Enix’s most memorable games…
If you look around the modern gaming market, you’ll find a slew of games that mix and match genres. Most are the typical matches like Action and platform or strategy and RPG. And then there are mixes that you probably never would have thought of, like rhythm and platform. Back in 1990, you never heard much about mixing and matching completely different genres.
ActRaiser is a mix of action-platform and simulation. Now, unlike other games where they try to blend the genres and make them work as one, ActRaiser had you doing each genre at a specific point. However, it was the rather symbiotic relationship between the two genres that you would have to find to succeed in this game. You needed to do the action-platform parts to start the simulation. And you needed to advance the simulation sections far enough to do more action-platform.
The story is fairly simple. Basically, you’re God and you have to save the world from the demons who terrorize the world and enslave the hopeless masses. Primarily, these actions happen in the action sections of the game as you (or should I say your Avatar) jump and slash your way through various enemies to make your way to the level boss.
Once you beat the first boss of an area, the simulation begins. The area will always start with two people praying at the temple and four monster lairs. You need to build toward each lair to not only defeat the monsters but grow your population. A number of “miracles” can also be performed during this time, whether it is an earthquake to connect two parts of the land or as simple as giving bread to a boy to remind him of home.
Once you close all the lairs, the second level of the area is open. From there, you take on the main boss of the land and rid the area of any demonic presence. After that, you can max out the area’s population (unless there are other actions needed to do so) or you can move on to the next area and do the process over again.
So, does ActRaiser hold up? Well, before I answer that, let me just explain how I will decide. This series will be grading on how a game would fare if it were released now. No scores either; just a simple pass/fail grade.