The Genesis last true game proves to be the best.
Actual score: 9.8
Once upon a time, game developer Yuji Naka was going through character ideas for a new game that would become Sega's Genesis flagship series. One of the sketches was a rabbit with ears that can grab objects, as the game play developed and changed from puzzle to speedy plat forming, the character changed to a shooting star with stretchy arms, then an armadillo and finally it evolved to a spiky blue hedgehog...
Cut to 1995, just as the Genesis is ending its life cycle, Yuji Naka and co. uses the original sonic character sketches and gaming concepts to create their next game, this time set as an elaborate space saga. Ristar is born.
Story: Like his cousin Andross back at Lylat, invader Kaiser Greedy wants to take over a galaxy far, far, away. Thanks to Greedy, the planets leaders become corrupt and are unable to protect the people. Even the "legendary hero" is captured, but a prayer is sent to the high heavens and is answered... by the hero's son. Now on to the review!
Game play: First things first, despite the familiar themes and branching-path styled stages; this is not a sonic game. Ristar moves much slower then Sonic and cannot jump as high. However, this is okay because his stretchy resourceful arms make up for it. With a rubber band like effect, Ristar's arms allow you to swing like Tarzan, attack enemies from a distance, and given proper timing, even climb walls! You travel to planets which are composed of 2 levels and a boss (the planets leader). The game is done up in a puzzle manner and it usually takes more then survival to get to the end. The difficulty gradually increases per level but it's generally easier than most games of the era, but that is not to say the game is unexciting. The game is also quite clever as it pushes itself to make it something more, like in one puzzle
Graphics/FX: Sega obviously went for broke on this one, putting in everything they learned and showing the true power under the hood of the Genesis. With enough sprites, animations, and colour to make the Sega CD (heck, maybe even the 32X) pale in comparison, the end experience can almost be described as psychedelic! Only pictures truly describe the spectacle.
Music/sound FX: The sound is crisp, clear and ported exceptionally well to the VC. Admittedly, Ristar's voice tends to be garbled, but fortunately the character was meant to be cute anyway. The music is upbeat and quite catchy, but the sound FX, while they get the job done, are a bit repetitive and don't quite measure up to the competition.
End note: To rate this game less than 10 would be sinful, but it's sad that the people that ported this game did not take the time to add joystick functionality, as moving Ristar (arms and all) is tad clunky with the D-pad. Also, this game was also ported with some Sega game collections, so you might already have this game! Still, Ristar is one of the most brilliant platformers on the VC and arguably the best in its price range. Hopefully one day a developer will take the stretchy, starry eyed character for a second spin.