|NA February 16, 1995|
JP February 17, 1995
EU February 18, 1995
AU February 19, 1995
The game stars a cartoonish humanoid star who uses his hands to both move and combat enemies. It was originally released on the Mega Drive, and was also included as an unlockable game in Sonic Mega Collection for the Nintendo GameCube and on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 and C as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus. A Game Gear version which features different levels to the Mega Drive versions was also released. The game is also available on Sega Megadrive Collection for PS2 and PlayStation Portable and, as of December 4, 2006, it is available on Wii's Virtual Console service. On Sep 13, 2010, this game was released on Steam.
Ristar developed from an idea originally put forward during design talks for the character who would later become Sonic the Hedgehog. Yuji Naka, head of Sonic Team, recalled in 1992:
At first we used a character that looked like a rabbit with ears that could extend and pick up objects. As the game got faster and faster, we needed to come up with a special characteristic to give our character some power over his enemies. I remembered a character I had thought about years ago who could roll himself into a ball and slam into enemies. Hedgehogs can roll themselves into a ball, so we decided to go from a rabbit to a hedgehog.
Some years later, the game starring that rabbit-type character was developed separately from Sonic, and eventually evolved into a prototype called Feel. The rabbit resemblance in Feel was already phased out and the character no longer used his ears, but his arms. After some changes in the main character, and going through several names (including "Volt"), that game eventually became what is now known as Ristar. The name also went through further changes during development of the Western versions, going from Ristar the Shooting Star to Dexstar, and finally to Ristar.
The game takes place in the seven-planet Valdi System (also known as the "Vadji" System according to the back of the European box). An evil space pirate, Kaiser Greedy, has made the planets' leaders obey him. The inhabitants of Planet Neer (Flora outside Japan) pray for a hero before Greedy's mind control snatches them. The desperate prayers reach the nebula of the Star Goddess, Oruto. She awakens one of her children, Ristar, with the sole purpose of granting the wishes of the innocent people. He must stop Greedy and the brainwashed leaders of each world in the galaxy, to restore peace to the galaxy.
In Mega Drive versions outside Japan, Oruto is not seen. Instead, Ristar has a father figure, the Legendary Hero, who is a shooting star that protects the Valdi System. Rather than Oruto awakening Ristar, the Legendary Hero was kidnapped by Greedy, and it is up to Ristar to rescue his father as well.
Ristar is unable to jump as high as most platformer protagonists do, but his jumps have a bit more hang time, meaning he stays in the air longer. By pressing the grab button, Ristar will stretch his hands forward, grabbing whatever is ahead of him. The player can make his hands go in any one of eight directions by combining the attack with any direction on the control pad, except downward while on the ground. When Ristar grabs an enemy, he will continue to hold it until the button is released, causing him to collide with the enemy and destroy them. He can also grab walls and obstacles this way and it is possible, albeit time-consuming, to climb walls by continually grabbing diagonally up a wall.
Ristar's health is shown as four stars in the upper-right corner of the screen. Taking damage removes one star. When all four are gone, the last star falls on Ristar's head and he loses a life. Stars can be found throughout the levels, which replenish his health. These and other items must be picked up manually with Ristar's attack. A gold star restores one hit point, while a blue star refills health completely. A tiny icon of Ristar adds an extra life to the total.
During levels, horizontal poles facing the player will sometimes be seen and when grabbed, they may be spun on to gain momentum and shoot off toward the edge of the screen. The player may control Ristar's speed and direction with the control pad. If he has enough momentum, Ristar will begin to fly with a trail of stars behind him (called a "Shooting Star"). During these flights, any enemies that are touched will be destroyed and regular hazards will not deal any damage. Since Ristar flies at a high speed and rebounds easily, it can be difficult to control his flight and on Hard and Super difficulties, his flight cannot be controlled at all. When Ristar loses enough momentum, he will cease flight and drop to the ground. At the end of all regular levels, there is one last pole for Ristar to fly from. This allows the player to gain a great amount of altitude and the higher Ristar is when he leaves the screen, the more bonus points are added on to the player's score.
Each regular level also contains one special pole that Ristar can grab onto. Grabbing this makes him automatically spin and launch himself off the top of screen into a bonus stage. These bonus stages involve getting through an obstacle course in order to reach a treasure within a given time limit. Their difficulty increases as the game progresses.
Aside from the aforementioned storyline changes, several other notable differences exist between the Japanese and English versions of Ristar.
- Planet names change between the different versions of Ristar.
- The Western version's enemies were altered to appear more threatening, and the "angry" Ristar sprite is used throughout the entire game, as opposed to only during boss battles.
- A skiing sequence was added to the start of round five.
- Itamor was changed from a giant cat to an ice monster.
- Antigravity shoes were added to round six in the American version.
- If you go under record time for a bonus round in the Japanese version, it says "GIVE UP!" In the American version it says "NO WAY!"
- The names of the treasures in the bonus stages were removed.
- The European version of Ristar is one of the few Mega Drive games to take advantage of the larger resolution used by PAL systems.
- The third stage of the Game Gear version is removed when it is played on a non-Japanese system.
- The ending scene shown after credits in the Japanese version of the game, shows that Greedy, Uranim and Inonis ended up on a deserted planet. A picture of Ristar appears in the space, while Greedy looks at it, disappointed. The English version only shows Ristar being re-united with his father again.
Although sales weren't majorly successful due to the increasing popularity of 32 and 64 bit video game technologies, it sold enough to be a hit. The critic score, according to Gamespot, is 9.5 and its user score is 9.1, one of the top ranked scores for a Genesis game.
- Ristar Cluster Detailed lists of Planets, enemies and information related to beta and final versions of Ristar.