Aliens are plotting to take over the galaxy! No! The world leader guy is going crazy! No no! The hero has been kidnapped! Who? Never fear! His son will save us all! And that’s essentially the plot of Ristar, a chipper star type guy with what looks like a human body. He may come from the stars above the planets but I think he’s Scottish, as I will explain in due course. Ristar is your standard platformer, no I lie, it’s an extremely intuitive and enjoyable platformer that deserves plaudits.
The graphics are amazing, as you would expect from a 1995 16-bit title. The backdrops are colourful and everything is animated beautifully. That includes our hero, or the hero’s son as is the case, his lovely star-face reacting as he bounds about the levels, smashing his face into enemies. Oh yes, bouncing enemies to death is a thing of the past, Ristar must “Glasgow Kiss” his way to victory. The game takes place on all the planets of this mini solar system and every time Ristar clears out a planet and its boss, he shoots off to the next one.
Every planet has a theme and it’s executed rather smashingly. The gameplay is excellent and finding out what Ristar can headbutt (or not) is much like learning things as a kid. Some of those spiky things looked smashable so I, you know, smashed them and lost a bit of life (stars of course). The pull and fling move is great when getting around the levels – hand grabs, spinny lever things, all need to be utilised to get out of a level to the boss. Sometimes you need to kill all enemies on a screen to progress, meaning you can’t just dash through like on Sonic.
The boss fights are immense and some of them are kinda scary (yes, a thirty-something-year old man just said that, get over it) like the hammerhead shark thing in planet two. The only downsides to Ristar are the basic sound effects, substandard music (except the boss music) and the fact it’s too generous with continues and lives. Bloody great though!