Kisai's Review of Actraiser
You are a god, defeated ages ago by a fiend named Tanzra and sealed inside your floating Sky Palace. A chubby, big eyed cherub has awakened and informed you that everyone on earth has been wiped out by monsters and it is up to you to repopulate six lands (not personally, mind you) and eradicate the monsters in turn.
Actraiser is split into two different types of games. The first is a side scrolling, sword-swinging, platformer (acts) that feels a bit stiff at first, since the character jumps around in plate mail and wields a broadsword with overhand chops. Your sword is backed up by powerful spells, capable of wiping out your onscreen enemies.
The second is a simple town simulation where you try to get your citizens to thrive under adverse (carnivious) conditions. You get to direct the town's development and assist with more natural miracles, such as lighting, rain, and earthquakes. Although short and easy, it's chock full of exploration and surprises as you uncover items that can help you.
This weird combination goes together actually quite well, like chocolate and peanut butter. Actraiser provides fun by mixing the two styles, both of which would remain dull if left by themselves. Sadly, it's all over a little too quickly and capable of being beaten in a few hours.
In Populous, my citizens felt like wooden game pieces, not people. In Black & White, the citizens were quiet, when they weren't screaming about being devoured by my big, dopey pet. Actraiser actually gets the feeling of being worshipped as a god down right. The citizens have personalities and bother you for everything, but hey, you're the boss. I didn't get the divine feeling quite so much while playing the acts, but the stage graphics are so beautiful that you won't particuarly care.
There isn't any real building of a character besides picking out a name. Levelling is dependant upon the population of your citizens, neatly enough, so you feel tied to their fortunes. Levels net you more HP and spell points for the simulation. By exploring the simulation, you'll also find spells and magic points that will help you in the acts.
The villains are pretty and varied, but mute. Their actions are relayed to you by your citizens, which gives them a bit more life. The most memorable of which sets himself up as a false god and tempts your citizens away from following you. Tanzra himself just isn't that difficult, because you're given a free distance weapon when you fight him.