Game: Pulstar System: Neo Geo / Arcade Emulators: Kawaks, Nebula, Mame, or any other NeoGeo emulator For 1 or 2 players Pulstar, one of two Aicom games to appear on the Neo Geo, is a shooter that could almost pass as a sequel to the legendary R-Type. Weighing in at over 300 megs, Pulstar was one of the first,(if not the first), games to use rendered sprites on the Neo Geo. Eight harrowing levels await your "shmup" skills, and you'll need some quick reflexes and fast firing fingers to make it through. You'll find yourself flying through water filled caverns, across a firey planet's surface, and into the deep reaches of outer. All the while wave after wave of enemies will greet you, many in the large, takes 10 hits to kill variety. After surviving, you'll meet up with a gigantic boss at the end of each stage. Most of the graphics have a very similar look to those found in R-Type. The ship itsself is slightly different, but the powerup carriers, many enemies, backgrounds and even some of the bosses give you that feel that you might have played this game before, only years earlier. The backgrounds are fairly lackluster, sans a couple of stages. With all of the action you face in the forefront, there is little time to look and wish for better behind it all. Even though the sprites look a bit degraded at times, to even have a game of this graphic intensity on the Neo Geo is quite a feat. Pulstar relies on a simple 2 button setup. *A* will fire your main weapon, and holding the button down will charge your weapon up for a powered shot. *A* coupled with *B* will launch your Pod Laser, which is pretty much the exact same thing that was used in the R-Type games. The Pod Laser attatches to the front of your ship, deflecting shots and provinding extra firepower for you. When it is launched, it can either explode in an array of beams, or crash directly into an enemy, dealing major damage to everything it touches, including bosses. Be warned though, that in Pulstar, once you launch your pod, it does not come back to you, it's lost until you gain another pod powerup. The sound in Pulstar comes in the standard shooter flavor. There are some nice tunes to blast away by, but nothing that just stands out better than others. The effects are nice, as booming explosions go, for that is mainly what you will hear with all the enemies you have to try and mow through. One of the only "gripes" I might have with this game is the slowdown that occurs on nearly every level. But even this is acceptable, given that fact that there in an ungodly amount of sprites on the screen every second of each level. Even for a monster such as the Neo Geo, this game pushes the hardware quite hard. The slowdown can be advantageous at times, allowing an extra fraction of a second that is sometimes the difference between life and death as you avoid the showers of bullets. As far as shooters on the mighty Neo Geo go, this is top of the class in my books. Good graphics, a challenging difficulty, and massive boss battles make for one hell of a ride. Taking most of it's key elements from a shmup legend such as R-Type doesn't hurt it, either. It may not be very original in concept, but it's a can't miss for shooter fans. Control: 9 Gameplay: 9.5 Graphics: 9.5 Sound: 7 Overall: 8.75 Grade: B+ Overall I give it a thumbs up!