#180 Actraiser

Posted: 29th July 2018 by Jeroen in Games
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712th played so far

Genre: Action/Strategy
Platform: SNES
Year of Release: 1990
Developer: Quintet
Publisher: Enix

I played Actraiser a long time ago, probably by getting through some random SNES games when I had a chance to – I don’t really know what attracted me to it, but I connected with it. It’s a game that combines action levels with a strategy game, which is an odd combination, but works for me. I get to properly review it now – hoping this is the game that I remember.

Our Thoughts

So one half of the loop of this game – building villages, shooting down enemies where they fly in and planning everything out. You don’t get loads of choice, just say what needs to be developed next, but there’s something really attractive about the loop here that kept me entertained. It’s helped by unlocks travelling between villages – when you unlock grain in one level, you also get seeds to bring to another and help them grow. When your villages are big enough, you can move on down to the next level.

The story marries that to the other level quite well – basically, to allow the villages to develop, you need to jump into a statue and clear a level. This is a side scrolling beat em up level – run through, kill enemies, a boss at the end. It’s nothing remarkable and I admit I used cheats to make it easier. The idea works well and I tried some legitimately, but the interplay felt more important than the actual execution of the levels and possibly not quite aimed at me.

The cynic in me sees how this could work as a free to play game – creating a loop of improving your cities and fighting off outsiders, waiting for timers to run out – but the existing ‘port’ removes the strategy elements entirely. Even as a basic concept – action levels surrounding a strategy game – it seems to be almost unique, but a concept worth exploring. I guess it’s a case where genres weren’t delineated enough to matter yet, where you could mix and match, a concept that wouldn’t be easy to sell to a publisher these days.

Final Thoughts

Actraiser is a unique game that probably has two sets of fans – with those on the border being best served, emulation means that straddling the line is easier, at least for the strategy fans. The city building never gets too complex, but it’s fun, and the endorphin feedback loop works amazingly well, considering how basic it is.