ActRaiser 2: Second verse, same as the…not so fast.
I need to start by saying that I never played this game as a youngster. I’m not sure how that came to be, considering that the first ActRaiser was such a great game. The more I think about it, the more I come to understand why I had not played ActRaiser 2. When the first ActRaiser was released, I was but a mere child of 13 and by the time ActRaiser 2 graced the SNES, I had blossomed into a robust 16 year-old. Life was full of fast cars and faster woman back then. Not for me of course. I was just a pimply faced dork working at a fast food joint. The true reason I never got to play ActRaiser 2 until I was an adult was due to the simple constraints of time. With my future prospects in front of me, I didn’t have the free time I enjoyed as a kid. Skip a chunk of years ahead to the summer of 2011 and I finally got around to playing ActRaiser 2 (thanks to Amazon.com).
The intricate level of detail is some of the best I have encountered on the SNES. The vibrant colors cascade from your TV in a dizzying range of hues. It dazzles the eyes and really makes you push forward to see what they have in store for you on the next level. The action is over-the-top fast paced and really gives your thumbs a run for their money. At times you’re completely overcome with satisfaction when you finally defeat a difficult boss and are able to proceed to a new location.
There is a dark side to this tale of heroic deeds. One that leaves a stain on an otherwise epic game. It is like the developer Quintet Co. said “Let’s go ahead and take everything that made the first game so unique (mostly the building and destroying of towns) and toss it out the door”. I always wondered what made them consider taking this perplexing route and, since I may never know how the brainstorming for ActRaiser 2 went down, I must take the next logical step and completely make one up. I am totally taking liberties with the hypothesis, so all names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.
I envision that it was a late night, overabundance of karaoke and sake to develop ActRaiser 2. I’m a little upset that they had removed the city building aspect from ActRaiser 2. No more naked cherubs, no more peons to torture, no more ingenuity. You do have the option to fly around on your sky palace but you are still strictly regulated with your travel locations. One thing I also noticed was that an excessive amount of music and sound effects were recycled from the first game. Another feature sorely missing is the options for a battery save. The game devolved to an earlier time by requiring you to use a password system. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to decipher your hieroglyphic, chicken scratch, password when you just want to play your game. While the new avatar is much more heroic looking (bigger muscles, sprawling white wings and a shield), he moves like a tank stuck in mud.
ActRaiser 2 is not for the weak at heart, it is *expletive removed* hard. Not difficult in the sense that you must learn the patterns of bosses or locations of enemies but because the game is cheap. I was only able to make it about a quarter of the way through before my Zen like patience finally wore thin. It was about this time that I indulged a Video Gaming Cardinal Sin and busted out the heavy guns: the Game Genie.
Now I know what you’re thinking. How can this loser do an honest take on a game if he plans on cheating? Well, I scoff at you. While yes it is cheating, I can fully justify it. You see. I don’t have the dexterity of a kid hopped up on Pixie Sticks like I used to. My fingers are old, my eye sight poor, and my patience is non-existent. So it’s not really my fault I have to cheat. I blame time and old age. But rest assured, O weary reader, your gasp of disbelief will have its revenge. ActRaiser 2 made my Game Genie its bitch. If this game was a bully, my Game Genie was the wedgie receiving victim. After putting in the codes, launching the game and bravely walking past most, if not all enemies. I had come to a roadblock. While my invincibility protected me from most damage, it did nothing for environmental damage and this game is ALL about environmental damage; from bottomless pits to instant death machines. Try as I might, I was never able to beat this game (hangs head in shame).
What you’re left with is a strict side scrolling action/adventure, albeit a beautiful one that seems to have missed its intended mark. Add that to a system that was already reaching its shelf life and your left with a game that has trouble rising above the rest.
Released on the SNES, November of 1993
Published by ENIX
Developed by Quintet CO.