Reviewed in 2010 by Tibe

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R-Type Revival

by Tibe (2010)

For those who haven't yet read the versus match between Pulstar and Darius Gaiden, be aware that Pulstar is a majestic assumed tribute to R-Type. The game incorporates many of the bosses, levels, enemies, weapons and gameplay of the mythical title of Irem. Plagirized? No, because as few people know, Pulstar was directed by alsmot the same team that directed R-type arcade version, back in 1987. Suffice to say that the former hit is here magnified by a Neo Geo fully exploited, in the year of grace 1995. The principle of progression used in R-Type that makes you restart from a checkpoint each time your ship is destroyed, is taken back here. The smallest fire touching your vessel terminates your hopes, be aware of it. In consequence, just like its illustrious ancestor, the game is fucking hard. The difficulty, affordable in the early stages, thickens severely right from the third level... increasing slightly until the latest worlds of the game. You got it, Pulstar is a pretty tough challenge, requiring adveanced Shoot them Up' player competences to overcome.

Take it easy anyway, as the game provides for your ship some weapons of mass destruction (that really exist, this time) and a shield that can stop most of enemy fires. Unlike R-Type, this one can't be positioned elsewhere than at the front of your fighter. During action, you'll be able to collect speed-up, shooting satellites , up to five different weapons, three additional types of missiles. For the use of the arms, the soft embarks the unalterable charge gauge. Depressing the A button concentrates a powerful shot, pressing it repeatedly triggers multiple-ways shot, shield, or other great options. The game strategies are numerous, so choose it carefully depending on where you are. B button is used to "fix" the shooting satellite in the desired direction. A caveat to your enthusiasm, however: the destruction of your ship makes you lose every single bonus collected, no matter where you are nor what you picked up before. Hard! Ah yes, what a badass, this Pulstar.

If the first level is a walk in the park, you'll tell me news from level five, for example. It's a superb alien jungle, populated by impossible creatures... and these will lead you die hard! And yet, once youy'll have cleared it, don't rejoice too fast, as three even more tough stages are still remaining.  If we find some enemies from one level to another, each stage has its own "wildlife". The bosses are huge, moves fantastic ways, and are often treated with morphing and deformations, which are quite impressive. Pulstar's graphics are gorgeous, very fine and neat. It's a pleasure for our peepers, a work of craftsmanship in which no detail was overlooked. The animation is extremely decomposed, probably  the subject of particular care from programmers, magnifying the graphics and giving an overall visual consistency never seen before. Music and sound effects are not least, as the great melodies and sounds were digitized with high quality sampling. The themes are suitable for each level and the atmosphere is therefore pretty immersive. The sounds of shooting, explosions, lasers, metals, and others are simply perfect. The brand has aged quite well, and playing Pulstar today is still a wonderful experience. 

Speaking about the controls and maneuverability, the game stands very close to its ancestor's basics, with a fluidity and flexibility highly improved. Without speed -up, the ship is a bit slow... You have therefore to correctly anticipate enemy moves! One can feel almost invincible once the ship is powered-up to the top, but beware! It's a decoy. The enemy ships have a lot of vice, they'll often shoot you from behind! The gameplay - which has proven itself already - is great, but is still daunting for rookies, even at the lowest difficulty. Strategy and accuracy will be necessary, and you'll probably have to learn some passages by heart, in order to overcome. Pulstar also offers the possibility to 'sacrifice' the ship's module, releasing a super powerful explosion and making the ship invincible for a few seconds... Just enough to give the coup de grâce to a wild, unleashed big Boss! This Aicom production is a pure jewel, in a setting of 305 mega: twenty-four karat gold for all shoot 'em up lovers. A brilliant realization, a long and challengin action, a perfect old-school gameplay... What could we ask more?



Pulstar packs eight different worlds, finely designed and splendid enemies and bosses.
The stages are full of life, with extremely decomposed animations for our ship and enemies - designed in 3d - providing the game a surreal atmosphere.
Excellent FX, groovy musics... Everything fits perfectly the different environments (sometimes dark, glaucous, organic, fantastic...)
Eight very hard stages to clear, a perfect challenge for expert players!
Taking back the R-Type basics, ergonomy is even better and weapon system quite complete. The controls are perfect.



A fantastic Shoot them Up on the Neo Geo.


Once more on this system, a jewel of videogame history which is way too expensive for a simple "player". It's more than 500 euros for an AES Pulstar, and even if the game is gorgeous, it's not a decent value/money rate for gaming.

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