When I first got into vintage gaming, Actraiser Renaissance had a significant influence. It’s stuck in my head. It is a fascinating game that epitomizes the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” It combines elements from two distinct genres—side-scrolling action with city construction.
None of the sections was solid. They weren’t terrible, but they couldn’t hold a candle to the originals. The side-scrolling was minimal at best, and there wasn’t much to do in city construction. Despite this, it stands out from the rest of the SNES collection because of the excellent music.
However, I had no idea there would be a remake. It came as a complete surprise. Once it hit the Wii Virtual Console, it was lost forever. Actraiser Renaissance, on the other hand, is here. Someone, including me, highly desired this game.
Appraiser Renaissance seems to be a remaster based on images alone. The SNES game’s structure is preserved; all levels are there and accounted for, as is the gameplay. Instead of your opponent going “Hum! Hum! Hum!” as you swing your sword, your feet now go “Clack! Clack! Clack!” when they hit the ground. I’m trying to convey that although the comfortable aspects of the original are still there, there is a lot of new material applied. In other words, it’s a full-on remake.
Much has been dusted on top. While the core game principles of “create the city, battle monster” haven’t changed, the creators have added additional complexity to make the game’s mechanisms more robust. Even if the side-scroller sections aren’t spectacular, they’ve seen some upgrades. You may briefly power up your God by collecting crystals dropped by opponents, and you have more than one sword swing and a few additional maneuvers at your disposal.
The plot of the tale hasn’t changed. It’s your job to rescue the world from Tanzra and reestablish a monotheistic belief system as you play as an awakened God. Because the lands have been devastated, you must first create more people to show your grandeur to the people below you. You only get involved when vital, such as when a mountain has to be lifted or a monster slain. Or, you know, whenever there’s an issue.
Another element of Actraiser Renaissance’s gameplay has been added: tower defense. City construction is essentially the same; you tell your colonists where to go, and they take care of the rest; however, sometimes you have to pause and defend yourself against onslaughts of monsters.
The three aspects of dealing with them are defensive placement, hero mobility, and the deployment of miracles. Once you finish a place, you’ll unlock a new hero that you may call upon to assist you in other locations. Regardless of whether they employ magic or practical assaults, they all engage in long-range or close-quarters combat. Because certain monsters are impervious to magic and others can fly, it’s critical to have a well-balanced team.
Actraiser Renaissance fails miserably when it comes to building protective buildings. There are three options for upgrading. However, they are all scattered across the map. I have no clue how the game determines where a gatehouse or tower can and cannot be placed. A monster-blocking barrier is not allowed on an empty road, which baffles me.
In addition, you have no control over the roadways due to the physics of the buildings. The trick to creating funnel points is in practice, but the villagers often drop them everywhere, and getting monsters to attempt to enter through your gatehouse is tricky. Certainly not impossible, but just tough.
Finally, your miracles aren’t limited to eradicating unwanted swaths of land. When faced with your five blessings, each monster has a different strength and weakness. Smiting them from above may alleviate your troops below this burden. However, keep in mind that your SP is limited, and each ability has a cooldown. Even if you can’t give everything a heavenly beating, you can reduce the burden on others. The tower defense isn’t perfect, but it adds a valuable layer of protection.
The addition of heroes deepens the plot by allowing them to experience their character arcs and internal conflicts. There’s a lot of material here, but these heroes’ presence helps distinguish each section. Even while the tower defense isn’t the greatest and is sure to divide players, it adds a lot of much-needed complexity to Actraiser Renaissance’s gameplay. Something has been missing from the city’s construction all this time, and it now has a sense of purpose and pace that was before lacking.
It’s essential to keep in mind, though, that certain portions are often repeated. There is a basic “construct, seal monster spawner, defend, repeat” flow to the city building portions. It never became a drag for me, but it was predictable. You’re also often distracted by other people’s conversations—many thanks. Once again, it had little effect on how much I enjoyed the game; however, I can see how it might aggravate other players.
Actraiser Renaissance’s visuals were, in fact, the first criticism I heard about the game. Like Donkey Kong or Code of Princess, the creator used a 3D-to-2D method. It’s an odd decision, but one that was taken to guarantee that the game will work on mobile devices. I didn’t mind this aspect, but it isn’t the best way to communicate the art, in my opinion. It’s a dated method that never appealed to me in the first place. Usually, I wouldn’t think it was significant enough to bring up, but so many people have objected to it that I feel compelled to do so.
Contrary to this, the music is fantastic. Renowned composer Yuzu Koshiro has added many new tracks, and they blend seamlessly with the originals. However, you can make the reworked score sound like the original by switching to the SNES line of buzzy instruments (which I prefer). The new tracks were first made in SNES style to make sure they’d work with the Actraiser Renaissance’s retro aesthetic. It also appears to work! And I love it! This is a significant step up from the previous album’s incredible soundtrack.
After the credits roll, there’s a second settlement with an accompanying action scene. The story leaves open the possibility of more, which excites me. A reimagining of Actraiser 2 will no doubt please some fans. I’d like to see a new iteration of the original formula.
Actraiser Renaissance, in my opinion, vastly improves on the original. It uses the original’s strengths as a springboard for new ideas. It does not alter the original title in any way; it improves it while also correcting a few flaws. In terms of enhancing an already excellent game, it’s right up there with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
This isn’t going to be the case for everyone. Actraiser Renaissance may have tampered with previously religious aspects, but everyone’s expectations for a remake are different. The modifications will irritate several people. It would have been ideal if the game featured a traditional mode without the tower defense to appease everyone, but alas, this is not possible. On the other hand, Appraiser Renaissance was a pleasant surprise and one of the best gaming experiences of 2018.