Pulstar (video game)

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Pulstar arcade flyer.jpg
Japanese Arcade flyer
DotEmu (PC)
Composer(s)Harumi Fujita
Yasuaki Fujita
Genre(s)Horizontally scrolling shooter
Arcade systemNeo Geo MVS
CPUM68000 (@ 12 MHz),
Z80A (@ 4 MHz)
SoundYM2610 (@ 8 MHz)[1]
DisplayRaster, 304 × 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors

Pulstar[a] is a shoot 'em up developed by Aicom Co. Ltd and published by SNK for the Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD and arcade; it is the predecessor of Blazing Star. It was the first Neo Geo game to incorporate pre-rendered graphics.[2]

In 2017 the game was re-released under the Arcade Archives, developed by Hamster Corporation for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[3][4]


Gameplay screenshot.

Players progress through the levels with a spacecraft, collecting powerups and protecting the spacecraft from destruction. The game has very obvious similarities in design and gameplay to R-Type.[5]

The game includes a weapon power bar, which consists of two halves. The right-hand side of the bar turns blue when the fire button is depressed. When fully charged the ship delivers a devastating emission of energy. The left-hand side turns red when it is continually pressed, shooting out a barrage of smaller, rapid blasts.

The in-game visuals are mostly pre-rendered 3D graphics, cinematic style cut scenes, and pre-rendered movies.

Once a power up is obtained, a small orb appears at the posterior end of the ship. This can be used to deflect or absorb oncoming enemy fire and take out small enemies that run into it.


In the year 2248, the first recorded sign of extraterrestrial life is discovered coming from Mars. The signal emanates from the planet and from it an object travels through space at light speed out of the Solar System. Earth scientists read the signal, but not knowing the nature of it, warn the world's defenses in case aliens trace the signal and follow it to Earth with the intent to destroy.

Eight years later, aliens follow the signal and begin attacking the human space craft awaiting them along Neptune’s orbit. The battle between the humans and aliens spreads throughout the Solar System; within two years of combat Neptune is disintegrated, Jupiter is turned into a star and more than half of Earth's continents sink from rising ocean levels and the planet's changing axis as a result. Kaoru Yamazaki, lone fighter pilot of the Dino246, is one of the few survivors of the Pulstar attack force founded to save the Solar System from the alien invaders.

Aicom developers appear to be automotive enthusiasts. The game's menu screen refers to "Project Dino", with the logo being visually similar to Ferrari Dino cars, and the fighter ship's name being Dino246 seems to be in clear reference to the Ferrari Dino 246 GT car.


Review scores
Next Generation1/5 stars (Neo Geo)[7]
Maximum4/5 stars (Neo Geo)[6]
MAN!AC80/100 (Neo Geo)[8]

Pulstar drew a wide range of opinions from critics. Maximum gave the Neo Geo AES version a rave review, particularly applauding the impressive-looking bosses and the extremely high and intelligently designed challenge. They also regarded the game as a sign that SNK was branching out from one-on-one fighting games.[6] Major Mike gave it a more mixed review in GamePro, describing it as an imperfect and unoriginal shooter which manages to distinguish itself through its high difficulty and rendered graphics. He criticized that objects often blend into the backgrounds, but like Maximum, he particularly noted the visually impressive bosses.[9] And a reviewer for Next Generation panned the game, contending that the gameplay mechanics fail to surpass even shooters of the early 1980s. He concluded, "If it weren't for the molasses like pace of the game, then Pulstar could've been another generic shooter. Instead, it's even worse."[7]


  1. ^ Japanese: パルスター Hepburn: Parusutā?


  1. ^ "SNK NeoGeo MVS Hardware (SNK)". system16.com. Archived from the original on 2017-09-21. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  2. ^ "Why No Rendered Neo Geo Games?". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (79): 137. February 1996.
  3. ^ "ACA NEOGEO PULSTAR Xbox One". Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  4. ^ "ACA NEOGEO PULSTAR PS4". Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Pulstar: Fantastic Shooting Experience with Incredible Rendered Graphics!!". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (2): 84–91. November 1995. Let's make no bones about it whatsoever - Pulstar is basically a 1995 rendition of Irem's classic R-Type.
  6. ^ a b "Maximum Reviews: Pulstar". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (2): 154. November 1995.
  7. ^ a b "Pulstar". Next Generation. No. 17. Imagine Media. May 1996. p. 94.
  8. ^ Andreas Knauf (2018-05-08). "Pulstar - im Klassik-Test (Neo Geo)". MANIAC.de (in German). Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  9. ^ "ProReview: Pulstar". GamePro. IDG (87): 110. December 1995.

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