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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pulseman Virtual Console Review

System: Genesis
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Sega
Cost: 900 Points

Originally released for the Genesis' Japanese counter part, the Mega Drive in 1994, and available in 1996 in America for those who had the ill-fated Sega Channel, Pulseman is one of those games that unfortunately never saw a full-on release in the states. That's pretty sad because Pulseman would have been right at home in the platformer genre with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Donkey Kong Country and the Super Mario Bros. games. Whatever made Sega of America pass up the idea to fully localize Pulseman is anyone's guess. More than ten years later, that mistake is thankfully corrected.

The plot behind Pulseman is that of father against son. Doctor Yoshiyama created an artificial being known as C-Life and she's so advanced she's almost human. The doc falls in love with her but since she's a digital being and he exists in the real world, there's no way the two of them can ever be together. No way, that is, until the doc finds a way to transport himself into the digital world! Yoshiyama and C-Life even produce a half human, half digital offspring (the less you think of how they managed this, the better) named Pulseman. Since Pulseman is half human, he can exist in the human world. Yoshiyama, having lived in the the cyber world for far too long, has a lapse in sanity, changes his name to Waruyama and somehow escapes to the real world, where like any good doctor gone bad, sets his sights on world domination. OK, so the story may sound a bit hokey, but I've heard worse and the plot presented is as good a reason as any to thrash a mad scientist.
Instead of stomping on foes to defend himself, Pulseman uses kicks, punches, and the Voltteccer, an electric-based attack that has to be charged before it can be executed. Charging the Voltteccer is a simple matter of double tapping forward to dash or running for a short distance. It's useful for killing enemies in groups and at long range. Even better, you can use it to turn Pulseman into a ball of energy that can bounce off walls and even travel on electrical lines. Voltteccer is a move that gets used frequently but it's a pretty cool technique that never overstays it's welcome like a lot of other gimmicks in other video games (sorry FLUDD).

With seven levels to play through and a boss in each one, you might think that Pulseman is a short romp and you'd be half right. Sure, the game may not be long, but each of the game's seven stages are huge. Some rather simple, some quite taxing. Pulseman isn't exactly a hard game, (the bosses are pretty easy once you figure out how to defeat them) but it does have it's tricky spots.

When you first start out, only the first three levels are available to you and you can play them in any order you choose. After beating the first three stages, levels 4-6 open up. The seventh and final stage (arguably the longest and most complex) is always saved for last and packs multiple bosses. Your continues are limited and should you make it to the boss and have to use one, rather than do the whole stage over, you begin right at the boss area or whatever check point you crossed before you expired. This may make the game a bit easier, but after some stages, you'll be thankful for the game being so merciful.

Pulseman is very easy on the eyes, coming off as one of the most visually stunning games on the Genesis. The game makes uses of lots of colors and amazing scrolling and pseudo 3D effects. Equally impressive is the sound. The game's music has a track for every mood. It's lively when you're in a city, and low key when you're trying to navigate the correct path through a maze. Jun'ichi Masuda knocked one out of the park when he composed the music for this game. If that name sounds familiar to Pokemon fans, it should. Some portions of the music went on to be reused as the Rival themes in the Pokemon games. Simply put, Pulseman offers some of the best audio you'll ever hear on the Genesis. Period.

Really, Pulseman should have gotten a world wide release on the Genesis back in 1994. Having played through this gem, I honestly can't believe Sega of America denied us such a great experience years ago. It looks great, sounds spectacular, and it's so much fun to play. If you're into platformers or quality titles, Pulseman is a no-brainer.


Screen shots from

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