Emulated in MAME ! [Console] Mega Drive Game
Ristar - The Shooting Star © 1995 Sega Enterprises, Limited.
Ristar plays as a 2-D sidescrolling platform game, similar to games like Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog, but focusing less on jumping and speed, and more on the use of Ristar's stretchable arms, of which can be reached in 8 different main directions. The player must maneuver Ristar through the level to its end, while avoiding damage from obstacles and enemies. Ristar's extendable arms are used as the main means of attacking enemies; through extending his arms, grabbing the enemy, and pulling himself towards them into a headbutt motion to defeat them. The same motion also allows for opening treasure chests containing various items, or striking different parts of the environment, such as knocking trees over. Additionally, his elastic arms can merely be used for grabbing and/or throwing objects as well.
Beyond attacking, Ristar's arms are also used as a method of projecting him through levels. Many pole-like structures are present to swing Ristar from one side to another, across gaps or to ascend or descend platforms vertically. Ristar is also able to grab on to enemies and objects in mid-air and swing on them. Additionally, Star Handles are placed in levels, where the player must have Ristar grab and use momentum to swing him around in a 360 degrees circle. Letting go launches him off in a given direction, dependent on the time of release. If enough momentum is gained, sparkles appear behind Ristar and he performs a move called the Meteor Strike, which makes him invincible and able to defeat any enemy upon touching them. When enough momentum is lost, usually a few seconds, flight ceases, and he drops to the ground back into his normal state, though this can be extended by bouncing off walls and ceilings during flight. Every level ends with a special Star Handle, which is used to launch Ristar through the end of the level. Bonus points are awarded based on Ristar's altitude when flying offscreen, similar to how levels are ended in Super Mario Bros.. Additionally, every level also contains one hidden handle that sends Ristar to a bonus stage, which involve getting through an obstacle course within a given time limit. Completing the level in a particularly fast time will earn a continue, and after the game is completed, special codes are awarded depending on how many were completed.
The game contains six planets; each planet contains a 2 standard levels, with a mini-boss in the first level and a major boss after the second level. After all are completed, the game concludes with a final boss fight.
Ristar's health is shown through an icon based health system consisting of four stars in the upper-right corner of the screen. Taking damage removes one star, and losing all stars causes Ristar to lose a life. Locating and grabbing a Ristar figure grants Ristar an extra life, while finding traditional star figures replenish his health; a yellow star replenishes one star, while a blue star restores all four.
Ristar - The Shooting Star for Mega Drive was released on February 17, 1995 in Japan. It is known outside Japan as simply 'Ristar' (without the subtitle).
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 lessened somewhat in the prototype, as the character no longer used his ears, but rather his arms. After some changes in the main character, and going through several names, 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.
Back in late 1994, Sega was originally pitching Ristar to be the successor of Sonic the Hedgehog. However, the game never received a ton of exposure or sales, mainly due to being released just three months prior to the Sega Saturn, Sega's newest video game console, overshadowing it.