Wii Virtual Console mini-review: ActRaiser

So, I bought a Nintendo Wii earlier this summer. I had been mostly away from video games for a while, but there are a lot of cool things about the Wii, including some games that make for good fun for a few people to play together, and the Wii remote makes it easy for people to play even if they aren’t used to playing video games.

But, one of the coolest things is the Virtual Console. Through the Wii Shop, Nintendo is selling games that were made for previous systems. It’s cool to be able to revisit some of these games that I played growing up which I haven’t gotten the chance to see in a while, since I sold my Super Nintendo years ago and I have no idea where my Nintendo 64 is.

Anyone who has played any older Nintendo system is familiar with some of the games available for the Virtual Console, like Super Mario Bros., or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, or Mario Kart 64. My series of Virtual Console mini-reviews will focus on games that were less popular during their original run.

First up is ActRaiser, which was released for the Super Nintendo by Enix in 1991.

ActRaiser title

I think this game is a lot of fun. You play as “The Master,” a deity or something, and the objective is to make the land good for the people who live there. There are two kinds of play, side-scrolling action sections and overworld simulation sections.

To begin with, each region is inhabited by monsters, so you control a sword-wielding warrior and proceed through a side-scrolling platform level, fighting monsters and a boss at the end.

ActRaiser action

Once the region is cleared, you enter simulation mode, where you control an angel, through which you control the development of the town. You must protect the people from monsters, tell them which direction to develop the town, and send things like lightning, rain, or wind to clear obstacles of development or make other things happen. Each town has its own small “story” that develops while you are building it, and it always leads to you having to complete another side-scrolling action stage.

ActRaiser town

The two play modes aren’t completely separated, though. How well you do in the action sections directly affects the maximum population of the region that can be reached during the simulation sections. Reaching certain population levels gives you extra health for both sections, and certain events in the simulation sections (many of them hidden) give you extra lives, spells, or MP to use during the action sections.

If I had to say what I’m disappointed in, it would be that many of the action levels are a bit short, and the game as a whole is also a bit short. I’m also disappointed that they chose to make the sequel, ActRaiser 2, action-only (eliminating the simulation mode). The game is pretty simple on the surface, but the action-simulation alternation adds an interesting level of complexity to the game that is fun to use. And achieving the absolute maximum population in the game is trickier than it might appear at first.

Anyway, my conclusion would be if you are a Wii owner and are looking for a cool old game to play for the Virtual Console, you should definitely try this one if you haven’t played it before… It makes for a lot of fun.

Some extra screenshots:

Introduction
Introduction
Pre-action stage animation
Pre-action stage animation
The first action stage
The first action stage
Platform elements are here as well
Platform elements are here as well
Inside a pyramid
Inside a pyramid
Each stage ends with a boss fight
Each stage ends with a boss fight
This guy looks mean
This guy looks mean

Some spells make quick work of the bosses
Some spells make quick work of the bosses
Beginning a new town
Beginning a new town
Eliminating monsters
Eliminating monsters
A view of several towns
A view of several towns
I believe this is the absolute maximum population... a perfect game :-)
I believe this is the absolute maximum population... a perfect game :-)