Tagged "Ristar"

Aug 16
By Matt Gander In Mobile Games 1 Comment

There’s good news and there’s really good news. This is the case of the latter, as last week’s mobile re-release of SEGA’s seminal platformer Ristar showcases vastly improved emulation.

The first batch of SEGA Forever titles left a lot to be desired. In fact, they were approaching unplayable even on high-end mobile devices. Ristar however runs smoothly, has less finicky touchscreen controls and overall improved presentation. This is all thanks to a new core emulator, and word has it that the launch titles are also due an overhaul.

SEGA are listening to fan feedback, it would seem, which is encouraging for the future.

Ristar was a late (1995) release for the Mega Drive, tipped by the gaming magazines of the era to be Sonic the Hedgehog’s successor. That never happened due to less-than-great sales, and perhaps being nothing more than a marketing ploy – what good would have come from ditching Sonic? It’s not as if the hedgehog’s popularity was in decline at the time.

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Aug 07
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

You won’t find Wonderboy or Alex Kidd on this list of Sega’s long lost heroes – we’re going even deeper into the depths of obscurity. Presenting eight former heroes that Sega have seemingly forgotten about:


Despite starring in three different games on three different formats – Game Gear, 32X and Saturn to be exact – Sega’s music-loving grasshopper was rather under-loved. This could be pinned down to a couple of reasons – Europe only received the Game Gear version, while the Saturn version remained in Japan.

All three games were pretty good, though, being very similar to the original Rayman in terms of look, feel and difficultly level. The 32X version was one of the system’s most underrated games, and one of the few to make good use of the add-on’s enhanced sound chips.

Mr. Bones

Cast your mind back to 1996. The PlayStation was reportedly outselling the Saturn by 10 to 1. Although underpowered, it wasn’t so much a case of the hardware failing to impress but rather the range of software. While Sony were heavily promoting the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Rage Racer, Destruction Derby 2 and WipEout 2097, Sega were releasing obscure Japanese titles and 2D platformers that, when compared to the aforementioned, looked a bit passé.

Case in point: Mr. Bones, a cut-scene heavy 2D platformer which came on two disks and starred a nondescript skeleton.

The Three Dirty Dwarfs

And here’s another example of a game which was far removed what from Sony were treating PlayStation owners to at the time. Three Dirty Dwarfs was from the developers of Ecco the Dolphin, but rather than promote the game around this fact, well, it wasn’t promoted at all.

Taconic, Corthag and Greg were the names of the dwarfs, who had to fight through a post-apocalyptic rendition of The Bronx using mostly sporting equipment. Like Mr. Bones, it’s a game that’s hard to find and can fetch a handsome sum.

Psycho Fox

“Remember, you’re not an average fox, you’re Psycho Fox!” read the back of the box for this well-received Master System platformer. Psycho Fox wasn’t the only character in the game, however – players could change into different animals with their own abilities.

For quite an obscure release there’s a bit of history behind it – it’s the predecessor (of sorts) to Decap Attack on the Mega Drive, which was the westernised version of the brilliantly named Magical Flying Turbo Hat Adventure. It has been said that Psycho Fox was the inspiration behind Tails, although the truth of that is hard to ascertain.

Teddy Boy

Teddy Boy was one of the better games in Sega’s £9.99 Master System budget range, but even then that’s not saying much – none of their purse pleasing games were particularly excellent.

The Japanese version was known as Teddy Boy Blues and featured Teddy Boy holding a gun on the cover. The cover for the European release however featured just the top of Teddy Boy’s head, with a bug knocking his blue baseball hat off. Oddly, his hat was green in the game. And going by the Japanese version it was meant to be a beret rather than a baseball cap.

Teddy Boy may have been a pretty bland character but regardless it was quite a popular Master System game due to the low price tag.

Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III

Sega took such a long time to release the Saturn in Europe that by the time it arrived launch title Clockwork Knight had already received a sequel in Japan. As such, the releases of Clockwork Knight and Clockwork Knight II in Europe were only months apart – the original was released in July and the sequel in October. Both games saw Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III – or Pepper, for short – out to rescue the Clockwork Fairy Princess, Chelsea.

It’s quite easy to draw comparisons with the movie Toy Story – both were released around the same time. In fact, Clockwork Knight probably did very well off the back of it. 3DS remakes would be most welcome – we recently played the sequel and it still holds up well.


Bug was the star of another early Saturn platformer with 2D characters on 3D backgrounds. The similarities with Clockwork Knight don’t just end there – Bug! also received a sequel, entitled Bug Too!

With no Sonic game available at the Saturn’s launch, Bug! sold quite well. A 32X version was rumoured in one of the UK Sega magazines and probably would have turned out to be a faithful conversion – it wasn’t particularly a polygon heavy affair and even Bug himself was a 2D sprite.

We wouldn’t turn down a 3DS version of this, either.


Ristar is perhaps the least obscure character on this list – it’s a game that has appeared on Sega’s retro collections and is also usually included on those licensed Sega handhelds. Sega fans hold the game in high regard too, as it’s a genuinely excellent platformer.

Ristar’s development history is an intresting one. Not just because it was originally going to be called Dexstar but because for a short period of time Ristar was going to be a rabbit who could throw enemies using his giant ears.

Proving that Sega do listen to their fans occasionally, Ristar made a very brief cameo appearance in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing in one of the DLC tracks. If only they’d listen to what fans wanted a little more they wouldn’t have to put up with petitions and the like asking for Shenmue III.

Next week: The forgotten heroes of PlayStation

Apr 05
By Matt Gander In Blog 7 Comments

Sega recently announced the first batch of GameGear games that’ll be appearing on the 3DS’s Virtual Console. If you missed the announcement, the line-up comprises Sonic & Tails 2, Sonic Drift 2, The GG Shinobi, Dragon Crystal: Shirai’s Maze and Columns.

Why they chose to use the Japanese names of each is beyond me – Sonic & Tails 2 was known as Sonic Triple Trouble outside of Japan, while Sonic Drift 2 became Sonic Drift Racing. Still, it’s not a bad little line-up.

Sonic Triple Trouble is one of the best 2D Sonic games; not just on the GameGear, but in general. Dragon Crystal is very Rouge-like with a nice soundtrack. It’s bound to be panned by the press for being basic by today’s standards, but back in 1990 it was ace. Don’t be fooled by Sonic Drift 2 – Mario Kart it isn’t. The GG Shinobi has stood the test of time, and if Columns only costs a couple of quid – which is likely – then it should be an essential download if you’re looking for something to play during lunch breaks.

It’s hard to see anybody but Sega re-releasing GameGear games on Virtual Console. Nonetheless, I’ve knocked up a list of ten titles I’d like to see.

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
A straight conversion of the Sega Master System version, but no less brilliant with some memorable bosses – including a giant chocolate bar – and the chance to go swimming in a giant cup of tea. The sequel – Land of Illusion – makes my head hurt due to the way the screen scrolls, but thankfully the rare and largely unknown Legend of Illusion corrected this. Legend of Illusion would be more than welcome on VC too.

Coca-Cola Kid
A Japanese-only platformer from Aspect – the developers behind most of the 8-bit Sonic games. It bears great resemblance to Sonic Chaos, in fact, with similar presentation and some recycled sound effects. The titular kid is rather acrobatic in nature and can also jump onto a skateboard to zoom through the levels quicker. A nice little game.

Tails Adventure
Miles better (pun intended) than Tails’ Sky Patrol – in which you can lose a life by crashing into trees, walls and other obstacles – this platformer is slower paced than the Sonic games and rather lovingly made. Visually it showed what the GameGear could do when tickled in the right places. Once Sega gets the Sonic games onto VC then chances are this’ll appear at some stage.

Gunstar Heroes
One of the most impressive GameGear games to be released; only the 3D FPS Faceball 2000 looks more impressive. It’s missing a few levels from the Mega Drive version and the sprites flicker badly but the charm still remains. As with Coca-Cola Kid, this was also a Japan-only release.

Mortal Kombat II
Potentially this could make it out if Warner Bros. could ever be arsed to do a deal with Sega. There are only two backdrops but it plays smoothly and it’s better than Rage’s GameGear version of Mortal Kombat 3, which is so bad it’s almost unplayable.

Pac Attack
Combine Tetris with Pac-Man and you get Pac Attack. As well as forming lines you also have to line up ghosts for Pac-Man to eat whenever he appears. Even though it was available as part of a Pac-Man compilation on Game Boy Advance it’s something of a forgotten gem.

Marko’s Magic Football
If you ever saw this in action you’d think that it’s a Mega Drive game. The sprites are large and well animated and Marko has dozens of football-related tricks up his sleeves. And Marko is way cooler than Soccer Kid – who had a face only a mother could love.

Power Strike II (aka GG Aleste 2)
An awesome and impressive 2D shooter that’s uncommon on eBay and moves like greased lightening. With no R-Type games on GameGear this is the best example of the genre, with busy backgrounds, varied levels and a bonus stage viewed from a third person perspective.

Prince of Persia
Much like Mortal Kombat, this could appear too if Ubisoft had a chat with Sega. They’re probably too busy kissing Nintendo though. Prince of Persia, much like the early Sonic and Mario games, plays just as well now as it did when it was first released. The animation was jaw-dropping back in the day.

An underrated platformer which plays a lot like the original Rayman. The Japanese version has an extra level which was removed from the US and European versions on the grounds that it was deemed too tough. It’s still present on these versions but you have to play it on a Japanese system to get it to appear.

I’ve left Wonderboy off the list as I’m willing to bet my last Wagon Wheel that it’ll be included in the second batch of games. Other likely candidates? Streets of Rage, Virtua Fighter Animation, Ax Battler and no doubt Sonic 2, a game which I can’t really stand. At all.

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