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Ristar - Nintendo Wii Virtual Console Review

by: David Sanchez ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Released in 1995, Sonic Team set out to do something a bit different with Ristar, implementing different gameplay elements that really separated the game from other 2D platformers.

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    A Distinctive Platformer - Ristar Review

    Ristar - Original Genesis Box Art 

    Long before Sonic the Hedgehog came to prominence with his speedy gameplay and distinct attitude, plans for a heroic rabbit that would use his ears to grab onto to things were the main focus of Sega. That rabbit character then became the iconic hedgehog, and the ears-as-appendages idea was scrapped. That is, of course, until 1995. At this time, Yuji Naka and Sonic Team revived the idea, but the rabbit character was exchanged for that of a cutesy star that would use his stretchy arms to reach out and attack enemies, flip switches, and climb ladders. Though the game didn’t see much commercial success at the time of its release, Ristar did manage to win over many gamers with its unqiue gameplay that separated it from other platformers.

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    Ristar Storyline

    Ristar is not the typical platform game hero. This is due mainly to his stretchy arms, which can be used to climb obstacles and take out enemies. 

    An evil dictator known as Greedy begins to brainwash the leaders of various planets across the Valdi System. He captures a character known as the Legendary Hero, and this prompts the hero’s son to set out for adventure and rescue his father as well as save the entire Valdi System. This is a slightly deep plot for a Genesis platformer, but a welcome one at that.

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    Ristar Gameplay

    Ristar engages in a number of unique boss fights where timing and precise aim with his arms is key. 

    At first glance, Ristar looks like another in a long line of 2D platformers. Once you actually get your hands on it, though, you see that this game is fairly different from other side-scrollers of its time. Ristar must use his stretchy arms to progress through levels; and while there is a good deal of running and jumping, there’s an equal amount of arm-stretching to do, adding a nice layer to the 2D platformer concept.

    Ristar can climb up ladders, grab enemies and slam his body into them, and open treasure chests using his arms. Literally everything you do with Ristar requires the use of his arms. Even most of the actual platforming requires you to swing from some kind of obstacle using Ristar’s arms. This gives the game its own persona, which is great considering the vast amount of platformers available on the Virtual Console.

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    Graphics and Sound

    The game features stylish graphics that are rich in color. 

    Ristar features seven beautiful worlds that not only drip with style but are rich in color. Everything looks vibrant and lively, backgrounds are bold, and character sprites are full of precise detail. Because this game was released late in the Genesis era, Sega and Sonic Team were able to pull out all the stops and provide a technically impressive title that still manages to look impressive by today’s standards.

    The sound design in the game is also pretty good, featuring a chipper soundtrack full of cheerful, upbeat themes. While some of the songs aren’t as catchy as others, the level of variety is nice. And it’s good to know that Sonic Team was inspired to include a number of different themes for the game rather than repeating the same songs over and over.

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    Lasting Value

    Ristar must use his arms for literally everything in order to progress through stages. 

    Ristar is a challenging game—even on the normal difficulty setting—and as such is a fairly decent-lasting affair. The game features seven worlds, with the first six each including two levels and a boss fight. As you progress through the game, stages get longer and more difficult. The cool thing about Ristar is the variety in the gameplay. One moment you’ll be scaling walls only to engage in a snowball fight the next. This constant variety makes the game a very pleasant experience for its duration.

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    Ristar Review - Overall Score

    Before The Legendary Starfy there was another star-shaped hero pulling off impressive feats of platforming. Ristar is a solid side-scroller with tons of charm and a nice spin on the traditional 2D platformer. Over the years, the game has been released in a number of compilations by Sega. If for some reason you’ve missed out on Ristar, though, there’s no reason for you to avoid playing it now. At 800 Wii Points, platform game fans are definitely getting their money’s worth.