Actraiser 2 is a game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, released in 1993 by Enix. As the sequel to Actraiser, a cult favorite, it disappointed many by taking out the simulation mode done so well in the original. Actraiser 2 is a pure action-platformer game sort of in the vein of Castlevania, like the action mode in the original Actraiser. You once again play as the Master (who's sort of like God except he dies a lot), and go down into the world and liberate it from the evil clutches of the demon Tanzra, who's terrorizing the planet. The game's story is pretty much identical to the one in the original.

The play control is sort of difficult to get the hang of, owing to a set of wings that the Master now has. They allow him to do many more things than he could in the first game, such as double jump, divebomb with his sword, and glide through the air. In addition, he can now cast a number of magic spells (instead of being limited to one selected before the level begins), each being summoned by holding down the attack button until the Master glows flashing-red and then releasing. The spell cast depends on the position the Master is in (standing, crouching, gliding, diving, etc.) The difficulty of the game is quite high, and will most likely cause you to gnaw at your controller in frustration on more than one occasion.

The graphics and music of the game are excellent, and the graphics especially are a step up from the original. The levels are beautifully atmospheric and exotic, creatively depicting a lush jungle, a submerged city (complete with petrified, screaming peasants), a wasteland with hideous abominations lurking about, a burning battlefield, a bizarre dungeon with hanging skeletons and/or chained skeletons, and other scenic locations. The music, done by Yuzo Koshiro, has the heroic, classically-influenced flair of the previous Actraiser, and can be exciting, atmospheric, or melancholy, and has an extremely good sense of dynamics. The sound effects are pretty good too, although some of them are borrowed from Soul Blazer and the original Actraiser. A particularly striking original sound is the grotesque, echoing cry of pain the Master gives off when he dies, which is pretty haunting, as far as video-game death-sounds go. Overall, the game is very detailed and well-crafted from an artistic standpoint, allowing the levels to create a great sense of an ominous mood, more so than the first game.

Actraiser 2 suffers from being way too hard in parts (although you can change the difficulty, it still manages to be hard even on the lowest setting), and unwisely left out the simulation mode in the first game. However, I think it's an underrated and quite good game, if not on the same level as the first one, which I found to be more fun and is one of my all-time favorite games.

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