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ActRaiser: What Did Critics Say Back in 1991?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 25, 2014   |   Episode 60 (Show Archive)  


ActRaiser (Super NES)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Released only a few weeks after the Super NES, ActRaiser quickly became the system's surprise hit. By mixing 2D side-scrolling action with Populous-style simulation, Enix managed to create a fantasy game that felt fresh. But were critics into this pairing, or was ActRaiser too complicated for its own good? We dig through issues of GamePro, Electronic Gaming Monthly, CVG and Super Play for the answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

[ Company: Enix | Console: Super NES ]

GAMEPRO (January 1992)
5 out of 5

"This is Enix's 'first born' into the SNES family, and there's much to be proud of in this baby. The eerie, mystical mood of Actraiser makes you feel as if you just slipped into the pages of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel such as "The Hobbit." Should you emerge from the current 16-bit hardware wares as a Super NES owner, you absolutely positively have to experience Actraiser - whatever an Actraiser is." -Feline Groovy

95% out of 100%

"I'm ashamed to say that I haven't added Actraiser to my Super Famicom collection yet, but I fully intend to. Offering some of the superb graphics and unbelievable sonics ever, the arcade sections in this game easily make it worth the money alone. Add in a SimCity/Populous game of a similar quality and you've got a totally unbeatable combination. It's the arcade sections that are going to be winning awards, I think." -Richard Leadbetter

9 out of 10

"Truly awesome! This is the quest/RPG game which all others will be compared to, no matter what system the game is on. Unbelievable music which is a soundtrack rather than just random noise. The graphics are spectacular and the quest challenging." -Sushi X

90% out of 100%

"All-in-all, Actraiser is a real favourite of mine. It's the usual combination of two game styles that does it, but even if the beginner's God-sim bit doesn't appeal, the graphics and sound are executed with enough finesse to keep you happy on their own. Extremely addictive -- but it would be even better if it was as challenging as the Japanese version." -Jason Brookes

9 out of 10

"I like quest games and this is the best ever made. The game play is perfect, not too hard to make it frustrating but challenging to make it difficult. Graphics and audio are what the S-NES is all about -- superb. Finding a game better than this is going to be hard to do." -Ed Semrad

NINTENDO POWER (December 1991)
4 out of 5

"What has the action of an arcade game, the depth of a simulation, the graphics of a work of art, and the sound of an epic movie score? ActRaiser from Enix is the answer to this riddle -- a game that has it all."
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 91% - Although it was unconventional to mix 2D action with an overhead God simulator, but the critics took it in stride. Electronic Gaming Monthly couldn't stop raving about the game, calling it "truly awesome" and "superb." Everybody fell in love with the soundtrack, with Nintendo Power raving that it sounds like a "movie score." Sushi-X agreed, saying that the soundtrack was actual music, and not "noise." I couldn't agree more.

Several critics noted that the American version is substantially easier than its Japanese counterpart, though not everybody agreed this was a good thing. Ed Semrad didn't seem to mind, saying that ActRaiser was "not too hard to make it frustrating but challenging to make it difficult." Super Play disagreed, complaining that "it would be even better if it was as challenging as the Japanese version."

Across the board, everybody embraced ActRaiser's unorthodox mix of genres. Nintendo Power's 4 out of 5 was by far the lowest score, and even that review ends by saying this Enix game "has it all." Critics loved this first-generation Super NES game, giving it an average score of 91%.

ON FRIDAY'S EPISODE: We close out the week by looking at a very early fighting game. Before Street Fighter II changed the way one-on-one fighters were made, Atari created Pit-Fighter. Featuring three-player action and digitized graphics, this arcade game looked like the next big thing. But did critics agree? Find out what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other classic magazines thought of Pit-Fighter on Friday's episode Review Crew. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!



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