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Old 08-02-2009, 09:11 PM
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Default FC 60 Alt: Pulseman (Ends 8/17)

If Pokemon was the meat of a Game Freak sandwich, Pulseman and Drill Dozer would be the bread. Let's break out the other piece.

Pulseman
Game Freak | Sega Channel/VC | Action Platformer | 1994

Shocking!
  #2  
Old 08-03-2009, 08:44 AM
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Well, I downloaded this game last week in anticipation of this Fun Club, and I played it for a few hours last night after discovering that the Braves weren't going to bother showing up. I played the first five levels, plus a bit of Australia. A few initial thoughts:

1) It feels like the bastard lovechild of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sparkster. The main electric mechanic (I forget what it's officially called, so I'll go with "Spark Mode") has some echoes of Sparkster's jetpack and all three games have the same kind of general aesthetic.

2) At the same time, the game shares with the 2-D Sonics a focus on momentum... except when it doesn't. I get the impression that the levels are designed so that you should be constantly building and releasing your charge, but if you allow yourself to go too fast or bounce around too much, you'll die unexpectedly. In addition, there are these segments where the action grinds to a halt as you hop across slooooooooowly moving platforms, or as you try to find just the right angle to allow you to bounce through a one-block opening.

3) Enemies seem placed to annoy rather than to hinder. They're not difficult to dodge or destroy, but they're placed cheaply, where you're likely to run into them without noticing. I've yet to take damage from a minor enemy without it feeling cheap.

4) This is a game where I probably should have read the manual before starting. For a while there I thought you had to jump from wire to wire, which is just possible but obnoxiously difficult. It turns out that you just have to tap in the direction of the wire you want to jump to and you'll skip directly over to it, which is more reasonable. Also, the dash move (left or right twice rapidly) is really useful; it gives you a full charge instantly and you're completely invulnerable during it, which is handy in places where you don't have space to run but need a charge.

5) It looks nice enough, as Genesis games go. For some reason I always think still shots of Genesis games look much better than seeing them in motion, and that's true here. It has some issues with distinguishing between the foreground and background, especially in the casino area. The real standouts visually are the cyberspace areas; the real-world areas are just your generic 16-bit platformer locales.

6) I could live without the crappy digitized voices, though. They're so badly sampled that I can't even tell what they're saying half the time, and they never shut up. I don't need them telling me "Perfect!" whenever I successfully go into Spark Mode, given that you do it every twenty seconds or so. On the other hand, WA-TER CAN DE-STROY PULSE-MAN!

7) The music is nice, though. Oddly, that's the place where I notice the most influence on Pokemon. It's a good thing Alaska's music is so cool because I was stuck there for, oh, twenty minutes or so.

8) On that note, I like how the game posits a dystopian future in which Alaska has broken away from the mainland United States. How did they knoooow

Seriously, I imagine Game Freak in a board meeting back in 1993 or so:

Programmer 1: Hey, we need a real-world country to serve as the ice level. Suggestions?

Programmer 2: Uh... Alaska? That's a country, right?

Programmer 1: Close enough. Slap it in and shove it into stores.
  #3  
Old 08-03-2009, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanto View Post
6) I could live without the crappy digitized voices, though. They're so badly sampled that I can't even tell what they're saying half the time, and they never shut up. I don't need them telling me "Perfect!" whenever I successfully go into Spark Mode, given that you do it every twenty seconds or so. On the other hand, WA-TER CAN DE-STROY PULSE-MAN!
He's saying "Volteccer!" (the name of the electric ball move), not "perfect."
  #4  
Old 08-03-2009, 09:27 AM
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Wow, I'm surprised this got chosen when it was second place to Shadow Complex. Guess it probably helps that SC isn't out just yet.

Anyway, I've been playing this on and off now, and while I haven't quite beaten it yet, I've gotten better at not losing lives after holding back on my recklessness. One of my favorite level designs is the first part of Stage 7, where Pulseman literally enters an arcade shooter's world but platforming on asteroids. Speaking of stage designs, I don't know if anyone's mentioned this yet, but the latter half of Stage 3 looks like it could be seizure-ville for some people. Heck, even though it's intended to hinder you, I love how Pulseman's inability to use his powers in water is introduced.....and the Stage 6 boss which tries to use that weakness to its full potential.

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Originally Posted by Tanto View Post
It feels like the bastard lovechild of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sparkster. The main electric mechanic (I forget what it's officially called, so I'll go with "Spark Mode") has some echoes of Sparkster's jetpack and all three games have the same kind of general aesthetic.
Now that you mention it, that sounds surprisingly accurate.
  #5  
Old 08-03-2009, 04:58 PM
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I dunno about the Sparkster comparison. I do see where that comes from, but the fact that you can only launch in diagonals makes things not as friendly, where in Sparkster you are more in control of where you're going. As well, the levels in Sparkster were built around the flying mechanic, whereas here you only really need it for extra power-ups. Honestly the wire mechanic does more to set the game apart and make it really unique.

/Kishi

As for this game, I really like it, but what shocked me was the soundtrack. It's shockingly good for a Genesis game, especially India. I really like the virtual world theme of that stage, and the real world has a pretty great theme, too.
  #6  
Old 08-04-2009, 05:25 PM
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Okay I played through the first three stages and I am in love with this game. The visuals were really great in the third stage, and the lightning ball launch thingy mechanic was implemented into the stage itself. It's still not to the level of Sparkster, as there's still a lot of reliance on traditional platforming, but the balance is really refreshing. And stage 4 just continues this trend.

Also, it seems fairly breezy and easy so far. Even the bosses. I'm perfectly fine with that, but I was expecting it to be harder I guess.
  #7  
Old 08-04-2009, 05:42 PM
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I keep getting to the underwater stage (stage 6?) and losing the will to continue playing.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:53 PM
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Thailand was pretty neat with the water mechanic, but the thing that struck me most was that the boss of the area wasn't a total pushover. He actually had some nifty color-coded attack patterns in there which were a bit more manageable once you knew what he was throwing at you. To Alaska!
  #9  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:11 PM
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Like Gunstar Super Heroes, this is a game I have a lot to say about, but I don't want to spoil the hypothetical GameSpite article I want to write about it in the future.

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Originally Posted by SilentSnake View Post
As well, the levels in Sparkster were built around the flying mechanic
Except when they weren't: "if you allow yourself to go too fast or bounce around too much, you'll die unexpectedly," as Tanto said, is often true for the Rocket Knight games, too.

Still love'em, though. Just like I love Pulseman!
  #10  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:20 PM
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Except when they weren't: "if you allow yourself to go too fast or bounce around too much, you'll die unexpectedly," as Tanto said, is often true for the Rocket Knight games, too.

Still love'em, though. Just like I love Pulseman!
Yeah I was more talking about the structure of the levels as far as the utility of the ability goes. Of course, when I said that I had just played the first two stages. Three and beyond all require use of the bouncing lightning ball and I've since gotten much better at it through necessity, so the comparison is pretty apt now that I've seen more, though I still do feel you're spending more time traditional platforming here than in Sparkster.

A couple more general observations:
1. I miss the wires from Stage 3.
2. I hate penguins.
  #11  
Old 08-05-2009, 06:32 PM
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Aaand I've just reached Stage 7, where the game turns into a horizontal shooter (kind of), as opposed to Sparkster, where the game turns into a vertical shooter near the end.

Yep, the parallels keep piling up. Not that I'm complaining!
  #12  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:35 PM
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The Galaxy Gang is no more! I've just beaten Pulseman. Comments on the final battle in white. (SPOILERS) The finale's definitely more of a test of not getting hit and knowing when to dash and when not to dash than anything else in the game. The prelude is basically midget Waruyamas popping out as tiles gradually flip, and once you beat them you fight it out against 3D Waruyama. Destroying both of his hands (oddly) brings him to an end, but the disembodied appendages don't make it that easy when they're firing diamond-thingys and the occasional giant energy ball into play, as well as more of those friggin' midget versions of himself.

And with that, I bid the Pulseman adieu for the time being. We had some great times riding the wires, overcoming mazes, traveling through arcade shooters, beating giant submarine robots with fish guns without our powers, and showing some cheap knockoff how a real Volteccer is done, but now I have bubbles to pop, tiles to clear, bugs to train into killing machines, and parasite-ridden cultists to shotgun in the face. We'll meet again soon, Pulseman.

Basically, gonna play some Space Bust-A-Move and Planet Puzzle League, train my Bug Gym team in Pokémon Platinum, and finish Resident Evil 4 now....if the above paragraph wasn't obvious enough.
  #13  
Old 08-05-2009, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilentSnake View Post
Aaand I've just reached Stage 7, where the game turns into a horizontal shooter (kind of), as opposed to Sparkster, where the game turns into a vertical shooter near the end.

Yep, the parallels keep piling up. Not that I'm complaining!
Rocket Knight Adventures is horizontal, too.




(Gotta capture some Pulseman sprites, no kiddin'.)
  #14  
Old 08-05-2009, 10:35 PM
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Well I beat it. As it turns out, I lost half of my lives on the first part of the shooter stage and the other half on the final battle. However, I did it all in one credit! That's something. But really this was a pretty breezy experience for the most part. And really satisfying. This and Drill Dozer make me really sad that Game Freak are now shackled to Pokemon because these two games are just so good.

Another memorable moment: The part where you're doing through a tunnel while missiles are coming at you, but the screen is zoomed out onto a screen as the bad guy is watching you. That was a really cool concept. If someone could throw up a screenshot of this, that'd be fantastic.

Another random thought: If the whole game-making fell through for Game Freak, they could make some mean battle screen backgrounds for the Mother series.
  #15  
Old 08-06-2009, 08:25 AM
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Stupid Australia.

Okay, I ran out of continues falling down that stupid spiked shaft in Australia. I think I'll try again tonight, hopefully building up a decent lives buffer in the softball stages before I get to the hard parts again.
  #16  
Old 08-06-2009, 08:29 AM
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I fired this up last night. It's pretty nifty. Reminds me a lot of Noitu Love 2.
  #17  
Old 08-08-2009, 02:14 PM
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Seriously, Australia can go fornicate itself with an iron stick.

Okay, I just finished it. It seems to me like this game has some pretty severe balance issues. Especially in the cheaply difficult final stage, three hit points and finite continues doesn't feel like nearly enough given how long the levels are and how wonky the hit detection can be sometimes. The basic gameplay is fun, but the game as a whole could have used more refinement. But then again, I'm bad at video games, so who knows.
  #18  
Old 08-08-2009, 02:36 PM
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Seriously, Australia can go fornicate itself with an iron stick.

Okay, I just finished it. It seems to me like this game has some pretty severe balance issues. Especially in the cheaply difficult final stage, three hit points and finite continues doesn't feel like nearly enough given how long the levels are and how wonky the hit detection can be sometimes. The basic gameplay is fun, but the game as a whole could have used more refinement. But then again, I'm bad at video games, so who knows.
Having played through the whole game recently, I know those balancing issues firsthand. The mazelike section of Stage 5 wasn't really too much of a problem after the first time I did it, though. I had more issues with the long vertical area in Stage 6. You had to keep going down while dealing with spiked ball tiles, revolver fish, and few healing items while being unable to use your electric powers because you're underwater. Stage 5 had a somewhat similar vertical stretch downwards, but at least you could use your powers there.

Losing against the final boss stretch isn't too frustrating, though, if you're willing to exploit the level select code. At the SEGA screen, press Y, B, A, A, B, Y (Classic), B, A, X, X, A, B (Cube), or A, 1, 2, 2, 1, A (Wiimote), depending on which control scheme you're using to unlock Level Select in the options menu. From there, you can choose any area from any level in the game.
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Old 08-08-2009, 03:32 PM
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I just noticed that this game came out for VC. That explains a lot!
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