AICOM - NEOGEO
Reviewed by Malc
only ever played a NeoGeo once, and that was when it first came out
in the arcades. I chucked my money into Magician Lord, and came away
30 seconds later distinctly unimpressed - probably because I only lasted
30 seconds. After that I decided to spent my last two months at college
studying, and never saw one again. A couple of years ago a friend bought
the NeoGeo CD, and I was entranced by the likes of Viewpoint and Last
Resort, and vowed to get one some day!
Well, I've finally got my NeoGeo now, second hand, with a veritable
pile of lovely games, and I'm irreedemably hooked! Best game of the
pile has to be Aicom's Pulstar, and although I've only got a few tiny
pics of it, I just had to put it up here. I don't know much about Aicom,
(can't find their website) but I have a strong feeling that there are
some Irem designers working there. Yes, you guessed it, shades of R-Type
Pulstar doesn't so much pay homage to R-type, instead it has slept with
it and left early in the morning. First glances will reveal many similar
elements, the way the enemies move, the design of the bosses, and most
obviously the powerup orb. After a few plays the subtle nuances will
show themselves. Firstly, a few plays with the weapons system highlights
what must be one of the best in recent years. You've got your normal
shot, and pressing the fire button rapidly actually increases the firepower
strength. It's a bit like Hypersports if you know what I mean! At full
manic-button-pressing strength, if you have an orb, you can release
it as an imploding smart bomb. Holding down the same button will release
different bolt blast, depending on what type of powerup you have attached.
Sundry other R-typisms are present, such as missiles, and above-and-below
protectors, which can be fixed to shoot in certain directions. All in
all a lovely system, the mastering of which is necessary to get through
It's also bloody hard. I'm still on level 2, and refuse to spoil it
by using continues! It's hard, yes, but still fair, you can only blame
yourself for dying - there's nothing worse than exploding without reason
in so many other games. That elusive on-more-go factor is definitely
present in Pulstar, you learn exactly what you should be doing at tricky
points, but you always muff it up! I'm gagging to go away and play just
thinking about it!
As you may have worked out, it's a horizontal shooter too. The orientation
of a shooter makes definite differences to a game, personally I prefer
the horizontal style. These types usually have surrounding scenery that
you have to navigate through, and are generally slightly more sedate
and require a bit more strategy than the vertically scrolling kind.
Vertical shooters are often sheer visceral rushes, the screen filling
with bullets and baddies, but it's not often you have to interact with
the scenery. Having said that, if I've only got ten minutes, I'll pick
up Battle Garegga or Do Don Pachi instead anytime!
Graphics are undeniably ace. It's got a semi-rendered look to it, but
without that fuzzy unreal stuck-on crappiness that rendered games usually
look like. The end of level first boss morphs from a pile of rubbish,
very impressive! The variety throughout the levels I've seen is fab
too, with an awful lot of different enemies per level - lots of snakes,
crab monsters and organic blobs. Haven't though about the sound yet,
I really can't remember what it's like, so it must be a bit average
Anyway, here's the poor selection of pictures I could find, if anyone's
got better ones I'd be glad to hear from them! I'm currently searching
for the followup (cunningly called Pulstar 2 I think) which is being
annoyingly elusive. And I've just found out why...it's not coming out
on CD:( WHY NOT!?
Level one, and things are looking very R-Typish. This level in particular
is a complete remake of the first stage in RT1..
Especially this part. Remember the jaws in the first game, the ones
that you used to wish snapped shut once in a while? Well, they do
Dunno which level this is, but you can see there's a few snakes
about. Doesn't that ship look familiar?
Level 2, and even more snakes! The grey crab things are the big
brothers of those in level 2 of R-Type, hiding in the scenery and
Level three, and homage to salamander... the firey bits in the background
dont hurt you, but it seems like they should.
I love the watery levels, I've died many times just splashing the
ship into the water and out again, watching the drips and bubbles
run off the paintwork:)