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Ristar (Genesis) artwork

Ristar (Genesis) review

"They sure were wrong… "

They sure were wrong…

Snerds had most gamers believing, myself included, that Genesis upgrades such as the Sega CD and 32x (especially the latter) were the beginning of a decline for Sega. The world got the picture that Sega wanted gamers to spend extra money to buy their upgrades and forget about the good old Genesis. And because of this, most gamers refused to buy the Saturn, fearing it would become obsolete after a year or two as they would be forced to upgrade it.

However those retarded snerds were too dumb to realize that the Sega-CD and 32x were never meant to replace the Genesis. The Genesis was still in production and quality games were still being released for it. A few of these gems were Comix Zone, an awesome comic book style beat ‘em up, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the third Genesis game starring Sega’s badass mascot, and Ristar, a 2D platformer of unparrelled quality. In Ristar, you play as the titular hero on a mission to stop the evil space pirate Greedy from taking over the galaxy, which he plans to use as his headquarters. He’s enslaved many people, including the all heroes of the galaxy who stood a chance at stopping him, and now you need to put an end to Greedy’s sinister rampage. Your adventure will span a total of six unique planets and will be one of the greatest gaming experiences you can get. It is unique, creative, and will hold you captive until Greedy is defeated and the galaxy is at peace. As a matter of fact, Ristar is probably greater than anything you’ve ever played before, and that includes anything from the platform legends Sonic and Mario!

The reason I don’t play too many “newer” platformers these days is because the developers make them overly complex, sapping the fun right out of them. To me the “ideal” platform character is one that doesn’t rely heavily on special moves and complicated controls and functions (I’m looking at you Blinx!), but makes a great use out of a few select options instead. Some examples are Mario and his versatile jumping ability and Sonic and his speed. Ristar is a perfect example of this ideal platform character. Our hero is limited to only three actions; move (duh), jump, and stretch out his arms. Ristar’s amazing arms are easily one of the greatest abilities I have ever seen in any video game, period. After looking at him you would never expect him to have such an awesome ability, but once Ristar encounters an enemy he stretches his arms out to about 3x his body length, grabs on to an enemy, and WHAM! Ristar finishes the enemy off by bashing the poor sucker against his hard face. Pretty cool, huh?

Imagine if Mario wasn’t able to use his jumping ability for anything except defeating enemies. That would mean no getting mushrooms and coins, jumping over pits, or pulling down flags. The game would be pretty dull, right? Ristar doesn’t fall into the “dull” category; his arms are even MORE versatile than Mario’s jumping ability. Besides defeating enemies, Ristar can climb up ladders, swing from pole to pole, swing from spinners to reach far off areas, and even hang from enemies to swing to other platforms. Ristar can also scale bare walls like a ninja, but by using an extremely unorthodox style, which is grabbing on to a wall and constantly slamming his head into it at a 45-degree angle. He might move slow and not jump very high, but with an ability like this what else do you need?

Although the basic attack may sound repetitive, the variety of challenges throughout the game certainly are not. In the matter of fact Ristar is one of the most diverse games I have ever played. The six different planets all vary greatly from each other. You begin your adventure on the lush planet Flora that resembles Green Hill Zone from Sonic. This level introduces you to Ristar’s unique moves and acts as a great introductory level. After Ristar rids Greedy from Flora, he arrives on Undertow. Unlike the forest environment of Flora, Undertow is almost all water with a few platforms. Now you must master the swimming technique while avoiding fans that are trying to blow you into spikes, and defeat sharks and other enemies.

The variety doesn’t stop after there either. Scorch (a fiery world with AWESOME music) presents a huge challenge by forcing you to constantly avoid enemy attacks and use your grabbing skills to the fullest. Freon is an icy planet that is all about quick reflexes; you must dodge or attack enemies very quickly as you slide across the ice. You will also be challenged to a snowball fight with some strange purple creature, how cool is that? Later the two of you will team up to defeat Itamor, which is one of the best boss fights I’ve ever seen in a videogame.

If you thought having a fire and ice planet in the same game is weird, you haven’t seen anything yet. Sonata is a music-based world in which every enemy’s means of attacking you is somehow music related, which includes hitting you with musical notes. Ristar takes a break from the non-stop action and adds some strategic elements, such as transporting a metronome (I told you it’s weird!) to a “musical” bird. While doing this you must overcome numerous challenges and obstacles such as transporting it over pits of spikes and clearing any enemies that stand in your way. The final planet, Automation is a machine world in which you must use all of Ristar’s skills to the fullest if you want to make it through there alive. Prepare to be attacking, climbing, scaling, sliding, and swinging your way through the planet so you can face Greedy!

Ristar will encounter several different enemies, but many are repeated throughout the game. Luckily the challenge brought to you by the enemies is different every time. Sometimes you’ll have to defeat the enemies before they defeat you. Other times they will act as obstacles that block your path as you climb up a wall or across the ceiling. You might even have to use them as devices to help you get to a platform that’s impossible to reach otherwise by grabbing on to them and swinging to the desired platform. There is also an awesome boss fight that concludes each world. Unlike the popular games at the time such as Donkey Kong Country, Ristar doesn’t continuously recycle bosses. Each world presents an extremely unique boss fight that requires a mastery of the abilities you’ve been using to get through the levels. So extra practice pays off!

Ristar will stun you is with its looks. Snerds like to brag about the SNES’ awesome looking games, such as Super Mario RPG and Donkey Kong Country, and how weak the Genesis is compared to their 16-bit system of choice. Obviously they've never seen Ristar, which looks just as good, if not better than anything the SNES has to offer. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the jungles of Flora or on the fiery planet Scorch; everything is beautiful and extremely detailed with vibrant colors and beautiful backgrounds. There are also some awesome affects that were never present until Ristar’s release, such as the screen getting darker as you swim deeper and deeper towards the bottom of the water in Undertow. Similar to most games at the time, Ristar will do something when he’s remaining idle for a while. But instead of performing one action throughout the game, he performs a new one every stage. Every character’s animations are outstanding, and there are never any slowdowns, which was quite rare for the time.

If I had to have one platformer for any console it would definitely be Ristar. The simplicity (control-wise), diversity, enjoyment, and beauty is greater than that of any other game of its type, including the greats such as Super Mario Bros 3 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. My only complaint is there was never a sequel to Ristar; I wanted more ever since I first played it over eight years ago. But since the diversity of Ristar is far greater than that of any game in existence, I won’t complain with what I have.

Halon's avatar
Community review by Halon (December 07, 2004)

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