Before the event of ActRaiser, there was a battle between the Master and Tanzra and his six lieutenants. The Master was defeated, and returned to the Sky Palace and went into a deep sleep to heal. While he was asleep, the world was divided into six areas by Tanzra, one area for each of his lieutenants. Under the rule of Tanzra, the people turned to evil.
When the Master awakens, he discovers that without people believing in him he has lost his power. This is where ActRaiser starts off. The Master defeats Tanzra's lieutenants one-by-one and helping to rebuild the civilizations previously under his ruling. After he has defeated the lieutenants, he goes to Death Heim to defeat Tanzra once and for all.
After Tanzra's defeat, the Master observes all of the civilizations he saved to notice that no one is at the temple worshiping him. His assistant remarks that people pray to him when in danger, and that there is no danger now. So, the Master returns to the Sky Palace and leaves to await a time when he must rise again to protect his people.
After completing the game once, an extra mode "Professional!" is revealed. This is every Act back-to-back with no Sim Modes. The Master begins with maximum health, but all enemies have double health.
The Master can use a variety of Miracles. The following areas don't need to be tackled in this order, but it is the standard route of progression.
Items are contained within Light Orbs that must be broken to retrieve their contents.
Items are Offerings by the people.
- Magical Fire
- Magical Stardust
- Magical Aura
- Magical Light
In Sim Mode, monsters are generated by Monster Lairs. Though there's a finite supply of monsters in each lair, and the lair can be destroyed by eliminating every monster individually, it's much more effective to guide the people to the lairs and have them seal it.
- ActRaiser 1 is best known for using the word "Holy" during the Nintendo censorship era.
- ActRaiser 1 is considered to be the best video game of all time that a virtual console would be released on Nintendo Wii.