Developed by Quintet for Enix in 1990, ActRaiser is a hybrid side-scrolling hack and slash platform game, with an overhead ‘God game’ type section.
ActRaiser was initially released in its native Japan in 1990, but it took another year for the game to be released in North America, and receive an official translation.
Nintendo of America objected to the original game’s satirising of Christianity, so demanded changes. As a result the US version was released in November 1991.
The action sections were also given easier level designs; enemies were given new attacks; spells required less magic to cast; more time was given to finish each segment; and spiked pits did not now instantly kill the player. On the flip side: the God game sections were made considerably harder. The American version includes “Professional Mode”, which appears when the game is beaten. This is the action side of the game with the original Japanese levels reinstated.
The European version, which came later in 1993, made even further changes to the American version. It changed “Professional Mode” to “Action Mode” and made it available from the very beginning.
Version differences aside, ActRaiser is a very playable and interesting game, and remains so to this day. It is also impressive programming and design from Enix, who were obviously developing for the Super Nintendo from a very early stage.
Of particular note is the game’s soundtrack, by Yuzo Koshiro, which is considered one of the best of its time.
These grabs are from the European PAL release of ActRaiser, in case you were wondering.
More: ActRaiser on Wikipedia