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Of all the first-generation Super NES games, ActRaiser by Enix was the most surprising. It mixed 2D action with an overhead simulator mode to create an unforgettable adventure game. This 1993 sequel rips out the overhead God simulator in order to focus on the action. Were critics accepting of this change, or were they turned off by the extreme difficulty. We dig through old issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Die Hard Game Fan, GamePro, SNES Force and Nintendo Power 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.)
"I waited two years for this game and Enix did not disappoint. I have played this game quite a bit now and really think that we will have to move up to 32-bit to experience better sound and graphics. My one small complaint. Is the same of animation on the main character. But overall, Act Raiser 2 takes action gaming on the SNES to its limits." -K. Lee
ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #52 9 out of 10
"Being the sequel to one of the most popular of the Super NES lineup, you'd expect it to remain relatively the same. I was slightly disappointed by the fact that the overhead scenes were taken out, but if you go beyond that and look at the action game -- it's great! The only problems (that are apparent) are that the controls need to get used to and the game is filled with lots of one-hit deaths. Still a decent game." -Ed Semrad
GAMEPRO (November 1993) 4.5 out of 5
"The ActRaiser's back, and it's sharper than ever. Continuing the story of a holy guardian who'll stop at nothing to rid the world of demons, ActRaiser 2 is side-scrolling heaven on SNES earth! Even Easy Mode is hard, but don't let that deter you from taking your best shot. The rewards are well worth it. Don't pass up with cart just because you don't understand the name. When all is said and done, you'll kick yourself if you miss Act 2."
SNES FORCE #9 89% out 100%
"Aaaaarrrrrhhhhh! That's what I found myself shouting after only a few minutes playing Actraiser 2. It's one of the toughest games around and I love it! If you found the first game easy or really enjoyed Super Ghouls and Ghosts, you'll love this. If you're new to the SNES world or don't like a tough challenge, you'll find this way out of your depth -- personally I love it!" -Simon
DIE HARD GAME FAN (October 1993) 88% out of 100%
"ActRaiser is still one of my favorite game on the SNES and I have been waiting for the sequel with much anticipation. Enix has delivered an outstanding game that has sacrificed the baby role playing found in the original for more action, graphics and Yuzo. For me, the sequel doesn't bring you into the story like the first one did, but fighting the good fight to AR2's outstanding classic soundtrack is a pleasure that all SNES owners should experience." -Sgt. Gamer
ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #52 8 out of 10
"This game is quite a shock. I was thrilled with the original ActRaiser and thought it couldn't be beat -- until now! This cart is packed with beautiful graphics, killer sound and enough action to keep anyone happy for days. I do miss the overhead scenes from the original, but this one will do nicely. The only problem I had with the game was the awkward control to fly. It does take a while to get used to." -Danyon Carpenter
NINTENDO POWER (November 1993) 3.5 out of 5
"The evil Tanzra has regained power and threatened the land once more. PLUS: Beautiful graphics and music. More variety of play action than in the original game. Very challenging. MINUS: Special moves are needlessly difficult to use. Even with passwords, many players will find the game too difficult and frustrating, even on the Easy setting."
SUPER PLAY #16 69% out of 100%
"Bad call, Enix. Actraiser 2 is a real letdown, and you'd be better off reading a Michael Moorcock novel whilst listening to Tristan Und Isolde. Am I alone in perceiving a marked down-turn in the quality of recent SNES games? Is it because the marketing people, not the innovators and designers, are now calling the shots?" -Zy Nicholson
SNES FORCE #9 60% out of 100%
"Jesus! Jeeezus! How good are the damn playtesters at Enix? Was it some sort of joke idea to make the sequel to a best-selling God sim, where you have to be a minor deity already to complete it? Dying so many times so quickly is frustrating beyond belief, it does create a short 'one more go' lastability, but that don't last long in the case of such opposition. I hate to say it, but Actraiser 2 is just too frustratingly difficult to be playable." -Will
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 84% -
You know how most sequels build on what people loved about the original? That's not the case with ActRaiser 2, which completely stripped out the one thing that set it apart from the landscape of generic 2D action games. As you can imagine, critics were quick to note the big difference between the first and second games.
American critics didn't seem to mind the missing elements, with both Electronic Gaming Monthly and Die Hard Game Fan giving it high marks. "Act Raiser 2 takes action gaming on the SNES to its limits," suggests GameFan's K. Lee. GamePro agreed, telling their readers that "you'll kick yourself if you miss Act 2."
Critics from the UK weren't nearly as excited about this sequel. SNES Force said the game is "just too frustratingly difficult to be playable." Zy Nicholson at Super Play echoed these thoughts, saying that Enix made a "bad call." He then turned this into a rant about how Super NES software seems to be getting worse, not better. I wonder how many people agree with him. Either way, these negative reviews bring the average down to 84%, much lower than the original's impressive 91%.
ON FRIDAY'S EPISODE:
With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles invading theaters this weekend, we'll be taking a look at one of their oft-ignored 16-bit games. Join us on Friday as the Review Crew takes a look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Hiest for the Sega Genesis.
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!