Ristar, known as in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, is a platform game
Platform game
A platform game is a video game characterized by requiring the player to jump to and from suspended platforms or over obstacles . It must be possible to control these jumps and to fall from platforms or miss jumps...

Video game developer
A video game developer is a software developer that creates video games. A developer may specialize in a certain video game console, such as Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, or may develop for a variety of systems, including personal computers.Most developers also...

 by Sonic Team
Sonic Team
is a Japanese computer and video game developer established in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan in 1990, originally known as Sega AM8. The Japan-based division is also known as G.E. Department Global Entertainment. The studio has collaborated with several in-house Japanese studios as well as other American-based...

 and published
Video game publisher
A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer....

 by Sega
, usually styled as SEGA, is a multinational video game software developer and an arcade software and hardware development company headquartered in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan, with various offices around the world...

 for the Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
The Sega Genesis is a fourth-generation video game console developed and produced by Sega. It was originally released in Japan in 1988 as , then in North America in 1989 as Sega Genesis, and in Europe, Australia and other PAL regions in 1990 as Mega Drive. The reason for the two names is that...

/Sega Genesis in 1995. A Sega Game Gear
Sega Game Gear
The was Sega's first handheld game console. It was the third commercially available color handheld console, after the Atari Lynx and the TurboExpress....

 version, which features different levels than the Mega Drive version, was also released in the same year.

The game stars a humanoid cartoon star who uses his hands and long, stretchable arms to both move and combat enemies. Reception for the game has been generally positive, but the game's initial release was overshadowed due to the imminent ending of the Genesis's lifecycle and the beginning of the Sega Saturn
Sega Saturn
The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console that was first released by Sega on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe...

 and other fifth generation video game consoles
History of video game consoles (fifth generation)
The fifth-generation era refers to the computer and video games, video game consoles, and video game handhelds available at stores...



Ristar developed from an idea originally put forward during design talks for the character who would later become Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog (character)
, trademarked Sonic The Hedgehog, is a video game character and the main protagonist of the Sonic video game series released by Sega, as well as in numerous spin-off comics, cartoons, and a feature film. The first game was released on June 23, 1991, to provide Sega with a mascot to rival Nintendo's...

. Yuji Naka
Yuji Naka
, is a video game designer and programmer, best known as the former head of Sonic Team, a group of Sega programmers/designers, where he was the lead programmer of the original Sonic the Hedgehog....

, 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 Saturn
The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console that was first released by Sega on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe...

, Sega's newest video game console
Video game console
A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to display a video game...

, overshadowing it.


A number of small changes were made in localizing the version released for english speaking countries. The story was altered slightly; in the Japanese version, a Star Goddess, Oruto, summons Ristar's help, where in the English version, Oruto is omitted completely, and Ristar's father, a "Legendary Hero", is referenced instead.

The boss of the ice themed level was changed from a large cat robot to an ice monster type robot. In the game, Ristar must grab hot dishes of food, and throw it in the bosses's mouth. In Japan, it was considered clever to use "hot food" to defeat a cat, due to a japanese-culture reference regarding a "cat-tongue" not liking hot food. In english-speaking regions, that reference is non-existent, so it was changed to a "cold ice monster" being defeated by being melted by "hot food".

The rest of the changes were very minor edits in effort to appeal to western audiences, such as minor graphical changes to make Ristar and other character's faces look more serious, renaming levels to names more descriptive of their looks, and adding a few non-interactive scenes to show more continuity in the game, such as a skiing sequence before the snow themed level, or putting on anti-gravity shoes to explain why Ristar is floating in a particular level.

In the Game Gear version, an entire level was removed from the english version. While usually each planet has 2 levels, the second level, "Fanturn", only has one level, the second was cut.


Much like other games from the same timeframe, such as Gunstar Heroes
Gunstar Heroes
is a run and gun video game developed by Treasure and published by Sega.Treasure's debut game was originally released on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in late 1993, and later on, ported to the Game Gear by M2. On February 23, 2006, Gunstar Heroes was released as part of the Gunstar Heroes: Treasure...

, the game's story varied between the Japanese language release and it's english language counterpart.
In all versions of the game, the events take place in the Valdi System, where an evil space pirate, Kaiser Greedy, has used mind control to make the planets' leaders obey him.

In the Japanese version, the inhabitants of Planet Neer (Flora in the english language version.) 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 the english language version, Oruto is omitted altogether. 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.

The Japanese version of the game ends with Greedy, and two underlings deserted planet or moon, with a picture of Ristar appearing in the space, while Greedy simply stares at it. The ending scene shown in the English shows Ristar being re-united with his father once again.

All versions of the Game Gear game feature the same scenario, involving Oruto, as the Japanese Genesis version.


Ristar is a 2D
2D computer graphics
2D computer graphics is the computer-based generation of digital images—mostly from two-dimensional models and by techniques specific to them...

 sidescrolling platformer
Platform game
A platform game is a video game characterized by requiring the player to jump to and from suspended platforms or over obstacles . It must be possible to control these jumps and to fall from platforms or miss jumps...

. Similar to games in the Mario
Mario (series)
The video game series, alternatively called the series or simply the series, is a series of highly popular and critically acclaimed video games by Nintendo, featuring Nintendo's mascot Mario and, in many games, his brother Luigi. Gameplay in the series often centers around jumping on and...

 or Sonic the Hedgehog series, except for focusing less on jumping and speed, and more on Ristar's stetchable arms game mechanic. Ristar has very long, stretchable arms, that he uses to grab objects, throw objects, and climb or ascend/descend levels. This is also his main means of attacking enemies; he grabs them and then proceeds to pull himself towards them into a "headbutt" motion, to defeat them.

The game also features "cranks" (Referred to as "Star Handles") that, when grabbed by Ristar, spin him around and around until letting go, which shoots him off in a given direction. If he has enough momentum, Ristar will begin to fly with a trail of stars behind him,in a move called "Meteor Strike", which makes him invincible and able to kill any enemy touched. When enough momentum is lost, flight ceases, and he drops to the ground back into his normal state.

Every level possess two special cranks. Every level ends with a special crank that, based on how high Ristar is launched off screen, bonus points are awarded, very similar to Mario receiving bonus points depending on how high he jumps onto a flagpole at the end of his respective game's levels. Additionally, ever level also contains one hidden crank 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 as 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. Stars can be found throughout the levels, which replenish his health.

The Game Gear version of Ristar largely played the same as the Genesis version, just with different levels to play through. The only major variation was that, only in the Game Gear version, Ristar collects many little stars throughout the levels, similar to the manner in which Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog (character)
, trademarked Sonic The Hedgehog, is a video game character and the main protagonist of the Sonic video game series released by Sega, as well as in numerous spin-off comics, cartoons, and a feature film. The first game was released on June 23, 1991, to provide Sega with a mascot to rival Nintendo's...

 collects rings, or Mario collects coins, in their respective games. Similarly, collecting 100 earns Ristar another life.


Reception for the game has been largely positive. While it didn't receive much attention upon it's initial release due to Sega's shifting from the Sega Genesis to the Sega Saturn video game consoles, leaving the game behind, but it did garner positive reviews in its later re-releases. IGN
IGN is an entertainment website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media. IGN's main website comprises several specialty sites or "channels", each occupying a subdomain and covering a specific area of entertainment...

 gave the Virtual Console version an 8 out of 10, praising the games graphics, music, and gameplay, and closed with saying "platformer fans would do well to give this one a look" Gamespot
GameSpot is a video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information. The site was launched in May 1, 1996 by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady and Jon Epstein. It was purchased by ZDNet, a brand which was later purchased by CNET Networks. CBS Interactive, which...

 praised the game as well, especially it's graphics, especially considering being for the Sega Genesis originally stating "Visually, the developers made the best of the system's limited color palette and employed every graphical trick they could to make the game look snazzy. Ristar and his enemies have a good variety of animations, but what you'll probably notice the most are the colorful, multilayered backgrounds that constantly flaunt animated details in the form of moving clouds, falling debris, and rampaging creatures that have a habit of hurling things at you from a distance."

Sega Official Magazine
Sega Saturn Magazine
Sega Saturn Magazine was a monthly UK magazine dedicated to the Sega Saturn. It held the official Saturn magazine license for the UK, and as such some issues included a demo CD created by Sega, called Sega Flash, which included playable games and game footage...

gave the game's original release an 87% rating, praising the gameplay, graphics, and music, but complaining that the game lacked some originality and borrowed a lot from other platforming games at the time, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Dynamite Headdy
Dynamite Headdy
is a video game released in 1994 by Sega and produced by Treasure. It was released on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis system, with ports to the Sega Game Gear and Sega Master System. A port for the Sega 32X was planned, but due to the system's low popularity, the port was canceled...

, and Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim is a run and gun platform video game starring an earthworm named Jim in a robotic suit who battles evil. Created by Doug TenNapel and designed by David Perry, the game was developed by Shiny Entertainment and Playmates Interactive Entertainment, released by Sega for the Mega...

. Sheffer of the First Battalion gave the game a fairly positive review mentioning it's "quite the hidden gem", and "they truly went the extra mile for the pixel art of this game".

The Game Gear version received even less attention, due to the Game Gear system itself struggling struggling in sales in comparison to the Genesis. Additionally, it has not received the level of re-releases that the Genesis version has. However, it has been described as "... not quite as fun or visually interesting as the original version but is still colorful and quite playable. Furthermore, enough new segments and features have been added that it feels significantly distinct from the original Genesis release."


In a 2006 interview with Ristar designer Akira Nishino, he said of Ristar:
Will Ristar come back? Probably not. Of course, as a game developer, I would love to see it happen. At the time of the original, I was thinking of a sequel. It got as far as a character design for that sequel, but it didn't happen for various reasons. But since fans have a say in such matters, your input is greatly appreciated.

While Ristar has never received any sequels, it has received further attention in later years. The Sega Genesis version has seen re-releases in several compilations, including Sonic Mega Collection
Sonic Mega Collection
is a video game compilation for the Nintendo GameCube.The compilation contains twelve to fourteen games depending on the region, all originally released on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis console...

, Sega Genesis Collection
Sega Genesis Collection
The Sega Mega Drive Collection is a video game compilation for the PlayStation 2 and PSP, compiled and emulated by Digital Eclipse and released in the U.S. in 2006 and Europe and Australia in 2007...

, and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, known as the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection in PAL regions, is a compilation of video games developed by Backbone Entertainment for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles...

. It has also been released for digital download released for the Wii
The Wii is a home video game console released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006. As a seventh-generation console, the Wii primarily competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of the two others...

's Virtual Console
Virtual console
A virtual console – also known as a virtual terminal – is a conceptual combination of the keyboard and display for a computer user interface. It is a feature of some operating systems such as UnixWare, Linux, and BSD, in which the system console of the computer can be used to switch between...

 service and Steam
Steam is the technical term for water vapor, the gaseous phase of water, which is formed when water boils. In common language it is often used to refer to the visible mist of water droplets formed as this water vapor condenses in the presence of cooler air...

. The Game Gear version was released as one of twenty games on the "Sonic's PlayPal Plug and Play", a controller that hooks up straight to the television rather than a video game system.

Ristar, as a character, has only made a few minor cameo appearances outside of his two original games in 1995. He was featured as one of the collectible 'Gachapons' (capsule toys) in the 2000 Dreamcast release Shenmue
is a 1999 open-world adventure video game developed by Sega AM2 and published by Sega for the Dreamcast, produced and directed by Yu Suzuki. Suzuki coined a genre title, "FREE" , for the game, based on the interactivity and freedom he wanted to give to the player...

. The next year he briefly appears in the 2001 Japan-only Dreamcast game Segagaga
is a console role-playing game developed by Tez Okano of Sega and released solely in Japan for the Sega Dreamcast on March 29, 2001, towards the end of the console lifespan....

. The game parodied Sega itself during the timeframe, and Ristar was shown in the game's opening sequence. Ristar did not make any more appearances until 2010, where he makes a cameo appearance in a downloadable track for Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is a racing game in the Sega Superstars series produced for Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS and Microsoft Windows, featuring characters from many Sega franchises. It is being published by Sega and developed by Sumo Digital...

due to the high demand for him to be in the game.
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