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File:Actraiser small 8833.jpg


ActRaiser is a platforming slash sim game released in 1990 for the SNES, developed by Quintet and published by Enix (now Square Enix). You are a Sealed Good in a Can god named The Master (apparently the Abrahamic God, but only in Japan), sent into a nice nap after Tanzra (also known as Satan, but again, only in Japan) and his minions beat you silly a very long time ago. While you were sleeping, Tanzra and pals divided your world amongst themselves, and your godlike powers found themselves drained, due to your worshippers abandoning ship.

As the game begins, you awaken from your slumber, bent on thrashing monsters and regaining your followers, which is accomplished through side-scrolling platform action and Sim City-like overhead village construction, respectively.

A sequel was made which dropped the city maintenance aspect of the game, which was one of the main things that made the original stand out amongst similar side-scrolling action games. It was not as well received, or remembered. However, this game did pave the way for what would become one of Enix's greatest, loosest trilogies -- Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma.


This game contains examples of:

  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The angel is naked.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end of the game, the world is beautiful, everyone's happy... and they don't need you anymore, so your temples are empty, your statue forgotten.
    • Depending on your interpretation, it might not be so bittersweet after all; if the people don't need the Master anymore, then they are truly at peace and capable of solving their problems on their own, which was the Master's goal all along. If the Master is truly selfless and benevolent, he shouldn't care that he is no longer praised if the people are happier, anyway.
  • Blackout Basement: One room in Bloodpool Act II.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Lightning. Particularly when turned against your own followers.
  • Boss Rush: The final stage is a straight up fight with the six "Act II" bosses, and then Tanzra.
  • Bottomless Pits
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: Bloodpool, and to some extent Marahna Act 1.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: Kasandora Act 2.
  • Cap: Each simulation area is limited to 128 structures, which puts a limit on the maximum population. If you build, say, too many bridges, you won't be able to gain enough population to reach your character's highest level and maximum HP.
  • Censorship Bureau: Nintendo's policies lead to the God/Master/Satan/Tanzra name changes.
  • Chain-Reaction Destruction: The bosses explode in that manner.
  • Character Level: Based on the population attained in the simulations. Many a game gets stalled out at the second-highest level when all of the town populations show "max" and no further growth can take place. See here for more details.
  • Clown Car Base: The monster lairs in the simulations. Hundreds of beasts can be huddled away in a single lair, and they won't stop popping out until you destroy them all one by one or have your followers seal them all up at once.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Aitos Act II takes place inside a volcano. Justifiable since the PC is a statue possessed by a god, though the lava itself still hurts.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Whether it's God or the Master, the game's set in a pure fantasy world.
  • Dem Bones: Mainly seen as skeletal mini-dragons.
  • Difficulty Levels: After beating the game normally, the "Professional" mode becomes available. See Nintendo Hard, below.
  • Disc One Nuke: Magical Stardust, obtained in the second area, Bloodpool. This little piece of magic here rains down a lot of stars to do A LOT of damage to everything on the screen, and can take out most bosses on its own by just a few charges. It's ineffective against two bosses, both of which have a small target area, and will most likely be depleted during the Boss Rush.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower: The Master gets a free Sword Beam powerup in the final battle, an item normally found only once before in the game. It emits an energy wave with every swing of the sword, and doubles attack power to boot.
  • Fake Platform: Quite a few platforms fall when you step on them.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture
    • Fillmore - Greece (The bosses of both Acts are creatures from Greek mythology)
    • Bloodpool - Medieval Europe (The castle of Bloodpool appears distinctly European in style)
    • Kasandora - Ancient Egypt (Self-explanatory)
    • Aitos - Japan (Has bamboo, an Oriental Dragon as the boss of Act 1, and a One-Eyed Oni possessing a wheel as the boss of Act 2)
    • Marahna - India/Cambodia/Mesoamerica (Has Native American enemies, a Cambodian Temple, and a boss that resembles a Hindu god)
    • Northwall - Scandinavia (Takes place in the cold north and has a giant tree akin to the mythical trees of Norse legends)
  • Flash of Pain: The enemies and the player after getting hit. Even applies to enemies which take one hit to kill.
  • Franchise Killer: The sequel removed the sim portion of the game, and therefore the only aspect of the game which differentiated it from other side-scrolling platformers.
  • Green Aesop: Thoroughly averted. Areas start out with a variety of ecosystems, from swamps and jungles to deserts and artic tundra. All will be cleared out to make room for more houses and farms. The game has an almost Manifest Destiny attitude towards the spread of your worshipers.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Your amount of loyal subjects translate directly into how beefy your avatar is during the side-scrolling portions.
  • God Is Good: The Master contains equal parts Conan, Rambo and Giuliani.
    • Good Is Not Nice: The Master can be very much the God of the Old Testament, and is perfectly capable of sending a Bolt of Divine Retribution down on his followers' heads if the offerings don't keep coming, or conduct urban renewal with an earthquake, which kills all worshippers not in the highest level of housing. This is, in fact, necessary to reach the highest level.
  • Grimy Water: The eponymous lake in Bloodpool.
  • Guide Dang It: Reaching maximum level can feel like a Luck-Based Mission if you don't read a guide. Also, obtaining some of the offerings in simulation mode requires you to use rain or lightning at random points on the map, including on the temple itself in one area.
  • Hailfire Peaks: Aitos Act I.
  • Headless Man: The headless natives in Marahna's Act I, which have faces on their chests and jab at you with long spears. They're based on the "anthropophagi" (man eaters) that Othello talks about meeting in his travels.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The Blue Dragons in SIM mode - which fly around cutely and vaporize people with lightning bolts - and the considerably more intimidating Aquatic Dragon and Arctic Wyvern, bosses respectively of Aitos Act I and Northwall Act II.
  • Jump Physics: Largely averted. Once you've committed to the direction of a jump, you can't change it, and you can't do other tricks like turning around in midair and swinging your sword at enemies behind you, either. At best you can slightly lenghten or shorten your leap by holding the respective direction.
  • Jungle Japes: Marahna Act I, with a touch of Temple of Doom.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Aitos
  • Living Statue: The Master's humanoid form is, well... a statue of The Master, before he animates it. Kalia, the boss of Marahna Act II, is a floating statue of a demon with six arms and a serpent's head.
  • A Load of Bull: The second boss for the Fillmore area is named Minotaurus.
  • Made of Explodium: The enemies explode upon death for no specific reason.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Many areas, but most noticeably the pyramid in Kasandora Act II and Kalia's castle in Marahna Act II.
  • Mana: Magic Sources for magic use in the platforming sections, and Simulation Points to use miracles in the simulation areas.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The Rafflasher boss of Marahna Act I.
  • Mix and Match Critter: The Manticore boss of Bloodpool Act I.
  • Nintendo Hard: Ouch, that boss rush and multi-stage final boss STINGS! As does the "Professional" mode, due to lack of magic, enemies taking more hits to kill, bosses being faster, and the absence of a projectile power-up in Aitos Act I. Doubly so if you're playing the Japanese version's Special Mode, which includes instant-death spikes and only two lives.
    • The entire sequel is also quite challenging, even on Easy Mode, partly due to some difficult control issues.
    • Most of the later bosses can be this if you don't just spam Stardust till they croak.
  • No Arc in Archery: The arrows fired in the Pyramid stage and elsewhere, as well as your angel's arrows.
  • One-Winged Angel: Tanzra, at first a disembodied head, transforms into a skeletal monstrosity when his first life bar is depleted.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Both Eastern and Western dragons are featured, as the bosses of Aitos Act I and Northwall Act II, respectively.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: the boss of Bloodpool Act II is a magician that turns into a werewolf midway through the battle.
  • Physical God: The Master, after he animates his statue.
  • Precursors: Northeast of Marahna is a mysterious bird-shaped island covered with trees. Many miles west, on an inaccessible plateau in Kasandora, lies a symbol of identical size and shape inscribed in the earth... Lead your people to first one and then the other, and they'll uncover the best-hidden magic spell in the game.
  • Reincarnation: Implied of the leaders of Northwall.
  • Satan: Tanzra, who was actually named Satan in the Japanese version.
  • Scoring Points: Surprisingly relevant to the course of the game -- the points you score in the Acts affect your maximum population in the simulations, and thus affect the level your character can achieve.
  • Shambling Egyptian Mummy: In the Pyramid of Kasandora Act II, naturally.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Kasandora, complete with a buried pyramid to unearth.
  • Simulation Game: When you aren't platforming, you're Simming it up in order to regain the love of your followers. Or raining disasters upon them, depending upon your mood.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Northwall Act I.
  • Spikes of Doom: Some kill you instantly, some don't. Unless you're playing the Japanese version, then they all do, unless you're invincible from taking damage.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Water areas in Bloodpool Act I serve as Bottomless Pits. Possibly Justified in that the lake is stated to be poisoned (and the player character is a walking statue).
  • Storming the Castle: Twice, in Bloodpool Act II and Marahna Act II.
  • Sword Beam: Collectible power-up in one Act, and given as an Eleventh-Hour Superpower.
  • Temple of Doom: The second act of each area.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In the Bloodpool simulation area, you get an item that's used to seal a Monster Lair that's inaccessible to the townspeople. If you try to use it on a different lair, the angel avatar won't let you.
  • The Lost Woods: Fillmore Act I.
  • Timed Mission: All Acts; simulation sections are untimed.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Practically an Invoked Trope; maxing out your population requires you to kill your followers by destroying low-level structures, thus making use for higher-level, higher-capacity houses. Earthquakes are the best way to go about this, mostly because the highest-level structures aren't affected by them.
  • World Tree: The large tree in Northwall is a version of this, and also where the second Act of the area takes place.
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