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 Post subject: STG Review #2 Pulstar & Blazing Star (Neo Geo)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 4:17 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 379
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
The first "CG-Shooting" game that appeared on the Neo-Geo, this is basically an R-Type clone/rip-off.

Gameplay: 8/10
First of all, you can select the first 4 stages in the game for ease you the things.

The ship can upgrade it's speed, weapons and missiles, the Dino-246 ship has a "Force-like" shield called the "Voyager", that protects your ship and have it's own weapon upgrades like homing lasers, reflecting lasers, extra power for your charge shots, but you can't launch your Voyager like the Force Unit on R-Type, in this game pressing A+B, this will cause the Voyager Self-Detonation, causing a lot of damage (the effect depends on the weapon that was using).

This game is also accurate to R-Type, on the fact that if you die you'll go back, there's check points, but it's still being a hard game.

Graphics: 9/10
For be one of the first CGI games, it has great graphics, and an animated Anime-Style intro.

Sound: 8/10
Music and sound effects are cool, very fast-paced and R-Type-ish

The game's first name was "Reaction", but it was changed into Pulstar

Pulstar's Final Score: 8.5/10



The good old Blazing Star, another shmup in the Neo Geo library, but also a rare and great game, i still remember how many times i played this on the arcades back then, so how about if i make a review of it?

Gameplay: 9.5/10
First off, you can select 1 of 6 ships, each one with unique attacks, and speed levels that fill the necessities of the player, from the average player, to experts, so here's the list and their special attacks.

Hell-Hound: This is the "Standard" ship made for average players, it has a 4 way shot for normal attack, 6 way as rapid attack, and it's special attacks are "Deathflame" (Charge) and Hell Burst for Break, it speed level is 2/3

Windina: A slow "Simple" type ship made for the beginners, it has a "Wave" shot, "Tidal Wave" as rapid, a 3 way Spread attack and a Homing (mispelled in the game as "Horming") for Break, it's speed level is 1/3

Aryustailm: This "Offensive" type ship is specially made for players who aim for really high scores, it's attacks are Laser, Thunder Bolt, Sword (this is the charge made for high scores) and Swordfield (a shield that protects you from small bullets), it's speed is 3/3

Peplos: A "Difficult" type aircraft, this ship can't power up with any items, so this is the ship made for experts who wants some difficulty and challenge, this ship has 3 way normal and rapid shots, the "Holy Flare" as charge and "Divine Breath" as Break (weaker versions of Hell-Hound's attacks), it's speed is 3/3

Dino-135: This "Technical" ship has two pods above and below the ship called "Ios", giving extra firepower. It's attacks are Shot, Rapid, Spreadshot and Spread Scatter, it's speed is 2/3

Dino-246: This "Difensiv" (Defensive) is like the R-9 from R-Type, Two Ios and the "Voyager" are the equivalent of the Bits and the Round Force. but unlike in Pulstar you can't upgrade to bouncing lasers, so you are stucked with your default shot/rapid shot and charge shot, the break attack "Bomber" replaces the Voyager's self-detonate. This ship speed is 1/3 , so this is another ship that works well with beginners.

How the attacks work?, the Rapid Shot is used when you quickly tap the fire button (Button A), when you hold the button you'll fill the "Shot" gauge, once it's full you can unleash the Charge attack, but if you press the "Button B" you can cut-off the charge and transform it into a different attack, that's the Break.

There's combos that increase your score and score multipliers kinda like in Thunder Force V, but without the timer, speaking about bonuses, there's a blue jewel that gives you 300 points, but that's only the beginning, when you get more of them without missing one, the bonus points will increase from 300, to 500, and up until you get 81560! that explains why the advertising blurb of the flyers said "Increase your score and go wild!", also when there's 2 players in the game the game will give you 2 exclusive bonus items called "Decoy" and "Stealth", i don't know the difference since both items increase the score automatically, but if one player touches the player ship with the bonus, the bonus will be "Stolen" so the player with the bonus has two challenges, one is avoid the enemies and the other is avoiding the other player and keep the bonus.
During the gameplay you'll find some winged orbs called "Event Item", they are "Temporary "x2" Multipliers", also there's a green and purple enemy formation that gives you a "Lucky Panel", like the name says it forms the word LUCKY, and it gives you a bonus when you complete a level, so this game has a lot of Score Attack elements, increasing the fun factor of it, but later in the game you'll have to concentrate more on the bullet patterns and obstacles, because the game gets trickier and trickier, like in Stage 6, there's some stage hazards like spinning "blades" and bosses with homing bullets, if you picked a slow ship you'll need a lot of skills for dodge that shots.

Something really original was the fact that if you get the 1st place in the ranking you can see your gameplay during the demo, it's an unexpected but nice feature for an arcade game.

Graphics: 10/10

As soon as we pass the Neo-Geo start up (and FBI's "Winners don't use drugs") screen, we will see a nice opening combining still CG and anime style character designs, and a fetus in space kinda like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, then we get our ships and enemies, the first thing that we noticed is that this game stays out of the Organic enemies of Pulstar, and goes more into mecha designs like little robots to giant battleships in the style of R-Type and U.N. Squadron, the stages have a nice variety of Forest, space colonies, boss battle during an atmosphere re-entry, ruined cities, canyons and a fortress, once we reach the final part of Stage 6 it looks alien-ish and organic, Stage 7 is a Bio-weapon stuff stage where the final boss is a fetus, like in Macross Scrambled Valkyrie, but here it's more challenging.

Music and Sound: 9/10
The music in this game is perfect, the combination of Dance and Electronic tracks fits perfectly with the gameplay, there's some voice samples in the game like "Select your ship!", "Get Ready", but there's one kinda annoying one and that's the "BONUS!" when you grab the blue Bonus Jewel, so what's gonna happen is that the game will go "BONU-BO-BO-BONUS! BONUS! BONUS!" when there's a bunch of Bonus Jewels. Out of this flaw the music department is perfect.

- 6 Selectable ships with unique attacks.
- 30 Entry Rankings with 8 digit name entry.
- 1st place in the ranking can see his/her gameplay during the demo.
- Score Multipliers.
- Exclusive Bonus items for 2 player co-op gameplay.
- Bonus Jewels that increase their value when you get more.
- LUCKY Bonus.
- Hidden color variants.
- Nicely done Opening.
- The music is beautiful.

- The voice that shouts "BONUS!!" can be a little annoying.
- It can be tricky and difficult in some levels.
- No extra 1ups with scoring, that sucks.
- A fetus for a final boss, that's kinda a letdown (for those who expect a giant mech or a battleship), but at least is more challenging than the ORN Emperor from Thunder Force VI.

- Aicom and Yumekobo were actually the same company. Aicom was a former Sammy´╗┐ subsidiary until they broke away and with funding from SNK, they were renamed as Yumekobo.
- Part of the staff of Pulstar and Blazing Star worked before with Irem during the R-Type era.
- The game's first name was Pulstar Blast, but it was changed to Blazing Star, so this game is the sequel and not a "Semi-sequel" like some shmup/Neo-Geo sites consider it, and it fully explains why Kaoru Y. and her sister Naomi appear in this game.
- The Earth and Jupiter like planets that appear in the game are the planets Remulia and Mutras.
- Windina's special attack is mispelled as "Horming" instead of Homing, this typo is the same as the "Horming Torpedo" in Megaman X.
- The "Y." in Naomi and Kaoru's name stands for Yamazaki.
- JB stands for Jan Bismarck (it could be John too).
- Asayuki has a younger sister called Amayuki, she doesn't appear in the game but she appears in the game artworks.
- The game is notorious for it's fractured english (engrish) with messages like "Get it more" or "You smashed his all equipment!", but the game is remembered for it's phrase "You fail it! Your skill is not enough, see you next time, bye-bye!", this has become a famous Internet meme, often abbreviated to "FAIL" or "You Fail".

As one of the last shmups of the Neo-Geo library, Blazing Star is at the pinnacle of not only Neo-Geo, but also shmups in general, along with games like Axelay, Einhander and Thunder Force V, the addictive gameplay and ships that fit each necessity of the player, making it an enjoyable game for beginners or a challenge for Expert players, so this is another good game that worths your time and quarters (or space in your PC if you have an emulator :XD: )

Blazing Star's Final Score: 9/10

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