Remasters and remakes are nothing new these days, but sometimes a new game shows up and surprises everyone. It’s unlikely that too many people were clamoring for a reboot of the 1990 classic Super Nintendo action/strategy-RPG hybrid Actraiser, but here we are! Actraiser Renaissance offers a fresh take on the concept, but it strays enough from its source material that veterans should prepare for some big changes.
You’d think it would be pretty easy being a god. Just, y’know, laze around all day, eat grapes, get fanned with palm fronds…that’s what you’d expect from godly life, right? In actuality, you’ve got your hands full dealing with the forces of darkness and keeping your followers alive and content. It’s a tough job, as it turns out, but someone’s got to do it.
Surely you’ve played the original Super Nintendo version of Actraiser, right? It was one of the headlining games back when that console launched back due to its impressive graphics and an acclaimed soundtrack from Yuzo Koshiro. From a gameplay standpoint, Actraiser is split into two halves. Renaissance takes both of those and does a few updates here and there to bring things into the modern age.
For part of the game, you’ll be embarking on a side-scrolling hack-and-slash adventure where you’ll battle baddies to cleanse the land for your followers. These segments are about as straightforward as they come – your hero is responsive and easy to control, able to slash a sword, cast some spells and hop about. If you loved these segments in the SNES version of Actraiser, you’re probably going to love them all over again here.
Once you’ve opened up some land, it’s time to help your followers get to work settling it. In these top-down strategy segments, you’ll take control of a loyal angel tasked with guiding your mortal pals as they construct a civilization. You didn’t get all of the monsters on your first time through, after all, so you’ll have to use the angel’s bow and your own divine magic to get rid of stragglers that emerge from dens to harass the locals.
While the side-scrolling segments of Renaissance are fairly similar to the SNES experience, realm management has a few more layers of depth slapped on top in Renaissance. You’ll have to manage resources, set up defensive structures and address mortal concerns on top of dealing with monsters and obstacles. There’s even a new set of hero characters that help you battle baddies in tower defense-style battles. There’s a lot more going on, but it may or may not impress depending on how authentic you’d like your retro throwback experiences to be.
Something that does remain authentic to the SNES classic is Renaissance’s music. It’s fantastic, but that’s what you’d expect from compositions from original composer Yuzo Koshiro. You probably came just for the soundtrack, let’s be real. Visually, things are a little more mixed; Renaissance’s new take on the Actraiser experience is certainly unique, but the pre-rendered look doesn’t hold up quite so well when compared to modern games – or even the original game’s chunky sprites.
Actraiser Renaissance certainly came out of nowhere. Whether or not it’s a good thing is something of a mixed bag. While the side-scrolling segments remain fantastic, there’s certainly some justifiable gripes when it comes to the distinctly different realm management segments. It’s an unusual thing to have to point out, but this take on Actraiser is definitely best recommended to tower defense fans…or at least players who don’t mind the idea.