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Old 01-19-2012, 12:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Why Pulseman Is Worth Your Attention


"Pulseman" is an action/platformer that was developed by Game Freak and released in 1994 for the Japanese Sega Mega Drive. It never saw a stateside release for the Genesis, but actually became available on the U.S. Virtual Console in 2007. It's notable for being one of the few games that Game Freak developed before creating the juggernaut that is Pokemon and officially becoming a second-party Nintendo slave, er, developer.


As you can see, the game took heavy inspiration from Mega Man X, Sonic the Hedgehog, and other action/platformers from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. (It also flat-out steals the basic plotline of Tezuka's Astro Boy. Though, it's hardly the first offender.) Despite borrowing many well-established mechanics from other popular games, Pulseman succeeds in "feeling like it's own thing." This is, in no small part, thanks to the slick visual style and brilliant character designs of Satoshi Tajiri. He injected more excitement into these 16-bit characters and backgrounds in 1994 than what most contemporary developers are doing with HD graphics today.


For those who don't know, Satoshi Tajiri is the founder of Game Freak and creator of Pokemon. That's right, he's the sleep-deprived mastermind responsible for imagining and designing all of those addictively adorable creatures you've spent hours upon hours training for battle. (At least that was the case for the first two generations of Pokemon. Now he has a few others helping him on that front, apparently.) He's also the man responsible for eventually selling his "Pocket Monsters" idea to Nintendo with the help of one Shigeru Miyamoto after numerous failed attempts. Interestingly enough, Pulseman would become part of the inspiration for the hugely popular "Pikachu" character and his electric powers.


Fans of Super Smash Bros. Brawl will notice that Pikachu's Final Smash move "Volt Tackle" (also a move in the Pokemon games,) is eerily similar to Pulseman's signature "Voltteccer" ability.

On top of Pulseman's esteemed "reverse-pedigree," it's also a great game! It's a shame that it never came to the states, because it really is one of the most fun and polished games to ever grace the Mega Drive/Genesis. Yet, even most Pokemon fans probably haven't heard of it. The action is fast-paced and fairly responsive. Each of Pusleman's diverse abilities are useful and add variety to the focused level-design. His fluid and detailed sprite animations look better than what I previously thought the system was capable of when I first played it a couple months ago. The audio direction is also top-notch for a Mega Drive game. (The poorly-aged voice samples only add to its retro charm.)


From Junichi Masuda's fantastic music to the vibrant visuals, Pulseman truly feels like a game that pushed the Mega Drive system to it's limit. Even though it doesn't offer the difficulty of a Mega Man X game, it's worth checking out if you're at all interested in 16-bit platformers or Game Freak's development history.



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Old 01-19-2012, 10:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Why Pulseman Is Worth Your Attention

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