|Platform(s)||Arcade, Neo Geo|
Pulstar (パルスター) is a shoot 'em up developed by Aicom Co. Ltd and published by SNK for the Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD and arcade; it is the predecessor of Blazing Star. It was the first Neo Geo game to incorporate pre-rendered graphics.
In the year 2248, the first recorded sign of extraterrestrial life is discovered coming from Mars. The signal emanates from the planet and from it an object travels through space at light speed out of the Solar System. Earth scientists read the signal, but not knowing the nature of it, warn the world's defenses in case aliens trace the signal and follow it to Earth with the intent to destroy.
Eight years later, aliens follow the signal and begin attacking the human space craft awaiting them along Neptune’s orbit. The battle between the humans and aliens spreads throughout the Solar System; within two years of combat Neptune is disintegrated, Jupiter is turned into a star and more than half of Earth's continents sink from rising ocean levels and the planet's changing axis as a result. Kaoru Yamazaki, lone fighter pilot of the Dino246, is one of the few survivors of the Pulstar attack force founded to save the Solar System from the alien invaders.
Players progress through the levels with a spacecraft, collecting powerups and protecting the spacecraft from destruction. The game has very obvious similarities in design and gameplay to R-Type.
The game includes a weapon power bar, which consists of two halves. The right-hand side of the bar turns blue when the fire button is depressed. When fully charged the ship delivers a devastating emission of energy. The left-hand side turns red when it is continually pressed, shooting out a barrage of smaller, rapid blasts.
The in-game visuals are mostly pre-rendered 3D graphics, cinematic style cut scenes, and pre-rendered movies.
Once a power up is obtained, a small orb appears at the posterior end of the ship. This can be used to deflect or absorb oncoming enemy fire and take out small enemies that run into it.
Maximum gave the Neo Geo AES version a rave review, particularly applauding the impressive-looking bosses and the extremely high and intelligently designed challenge. They also regarded the game as a sign that SNK was branching out from one-on-one fighting games, and scored it 4 out of 5 stars. Major Mike gave it a more mixed review in GamePro, describing it as an imperfect and unoriginal shooter which manages to distinguish itself through its high difficulty and rendered graphics. He criticized that objects often blend into the backgrounds, but like Maximum, he particularly noted the visually impressive bosses.
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