Ristar (Wii)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  So Hai (371)
Written on  :  Apr 23, 2008
Platform  :  Wii
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars

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Colourful, Bright, and Forgotten.

The Good

My interest in videogames may have peaked at this point in gaming history, which I believe to be from around 1992-1996. These games are an amusing slice of gaming history - they are all so similar in essence, but are all so very different to play. Compare "PLOK" to "Aladdin", or "Donkey Kong Country" to "Bubsy" - you can see that this style, although over-crowded, had it's great hits and misses.

Ristar is now a minor hit. Admittedly, this one slipped of my radar, and from what I've read, a lot of people are finding it only now. You play as a shooting-star, (yes, a shooting-star). He has arms that can reach far out from his body - this enables him to grab enemies and slam himself into them (attack), or to grab environmental things like poles, rungs or chains. This is his only "move" as such, and it seems like an obscure way to kill somebody, seeing as any other kind of contact harms the star-man.

Ristar (although a star), is quite water-proof, and his swimming abilities are great. This means (surprise!) that the underwater levels are really quite pleasurable - I just wish Sonic had half of this guy's skills. (Who else hates those Sonic levels?!). His almost graceful stroke reminds me of Kirby's swimming style, and because you can attack underwater, you're not just a helpless, submerged chunk of graphic.

The gameplay itself is fairly fluid, and it was quite a pleasure to romp around banging into things. I do think his jump is too short, and many things throughout the game are annoyingly just out of reach - some things seemed quite unfairly, a pixel too high. That said, his jump/grab motion takes a little while to master, and re-trying to reach things might even test the more patient player.

The Megadrive's FM sound-chip is utilised nicely too. The SFX and music are pretty tasteful, and you can tell that they made the effort to match themes and worlds to a degree, something your budget platformer never bothered to do. It's themes are quite well regarded, and it may of reached pop-status in the video-game world if it hadn't of been for the more successful cousin of this game.

The Bad

You progress through various worlds, (garden, fire, ice, industrial), killing enemies and collecting gems. It's good that there are some little secrets throughout the level, but I cannot imagine returning to find them all as unlike SMW or DKC, it makes no record of you finding them. Your human memory serves as your game completion meter in this title.

Of all the platformers out there at that time, I would place Ristar somewhere in the upper-middle. It's production values are quite good, but I find the gameplay itself quite shallow. The lack of any ratings or percentage of progress makes me think that a lot of the game is superfluous, and that you should just get to that final swing (that's how you end levels) as quickly as you can, bypassing combat and secrets. Also, although the games graphic design and art direction is usually admired, I find the title over-bearing in it's colour. It's full of bright, glaring primaries and scrap-book-like mis-matched colours - and I'm not talking "Yoshi's Island" style either.

The Bottom Line

If you like underdog stories, then Ristar is the game for you. It is a title that was over-shadowed by the Sonic line of games, and is often considered an artistic and technical equal. All in all, it's worth the download just to fill in your knowledge of some gaming history that really did fall between the cracks - quite unjustly.