/ god sim
for the Super Famicom
. Published in Japan in 1990.
OK, how can you have a "platformer / god sim"? Well somehow, Enix manage it, and pull it off with finesse. The action portions of the game fit the old hack and slash platform genre with you playing the role of a Greek / Norse god figure, fighting your way to the boss using your trusty sword, and a little magic. The platform levels in them selves aren't that impressive, with jumping being a a pretty decisive action, and your character only having a limited set of moves (high swipe, low swipe). But they work. Once you complete a level, and vanquish the boss, the god sim section begins. Here you control an cherub who looks after your people, and tells them where to build, and who to fight. Intervention is rather limited, but you do get to cast spells, and from time to time, you are given offering (items) that you can use to help your people. Somehow, although these two on their own wouldn't make very good games, they come together to become something more than the sum of its parts. The peaceful god sime section provides a welcome break from the action, while the platform sections continue to crop up, ensuring that you don't rest too long on your laurels.
The music is by Yuzo Koshiro, and it rules. The platform levels are played out to great orchestral pieces straight out of epic movies (the first level, Filmoa is something to remember), while the god sim is backed by a charming chamber orchestra piece (Birth of a People); all rendered with nice detailed instruments by the SPC700. Graphics look a little dated by todays standards, but have their moments. What really stands out is the theme of the game, which borrows elements from ancient and modern religions from all over the world: Elements of Norse, Greek, Roman, Egyption, Aztec, and Islam can all be found.
The US version of the game is made slightly easier by the removal of certain level hazards, but I’ve only ever seen Japanese coppies for sale, so it doesn’t really make much difference. ;) There’s an orchestral version of the soundtrack (Actraiser Symphonic Suite), and it is amazing. Though coppies on CD are impossible to find, MP3s are available on Hotline. The sequel to Actraiser, for some reason, does away with the god sim portions of the game, and ends up being a bit naff, so it’s probably best avoided unless you want more kewl Yuzo Koshiro music.