Ristar is a platformer developed by Sonic Team and first released for the Sega Genesis in 1995 and later released for the Game Gear the same year. The game has also been featured in numerous Sega game compilations, including Sonic Mega Collection, Sonic Mega Collection Plus, Sega Genesis Collection, and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. The game stars the eponymous Ristar, who must travel the galaxy and rescue his father while stopping Greedy, an evil alien tyrant who has enslaved the population and brainwashed the planet's leaders. The game was composed by Tomoko Sasaki, who would continue to work with Sonic Team in the future.
Ristar was created from early concept designs of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. The idea of Ristar's extending arms was taken from a rabbit that would use its ears to grab enemies. The rabbit was originally known as Feels. Feels the Rabbit, in concept, was alleged to be the mascot for SEGA to go against Mario and Nintendo in a marketing fashion. Allegedly, higher ranking officials at SEGA did not think that Feels was cutting edge and fast enough to compete. The ideas behind Feels and his stretchy ears, which would eventually become Ristar's trademark stretchy arms, were put on the back burner for what would become Sonic. Feels eventually continued development, in which he was changed to a star by the name of Dexstar. Dexstar would change names a few times until the name of Ristar was finally settled upon after development. Ristar would eventually be released on February 15, 1995 in Europe, February 16, 1995 in the US, and February 17, 1995 in Japan.
Ristar's unique gameplay revolves around the use of the character's long, extending arms. Unlike other platformers, the player cannot defeat enemies by jumping on them, so the player must grab enemies and crash into them. The player must also use these arms to interact with the environment, such as climbing ladders, swinging from poles or knocking over trees. The player can also use his arms to reach areas directly above or below him. Like other platformers, the mechanics get increasingly difficult and the player must master the use of Ristar's arms if they are to complete the game. Another unique device in Ristar are cranks. Located throughout the stages, they can be grabbed, which spins Ristar until the player lets go. Using timing, the player can fly off in their desired direction to reach platforms, or to crash into enemies.
The player's health is indicated by stars, which can be replenished throughout the level, located in chests. Yellow stars grant one point of health, while blue stars restore all health. Players can restore extra lives through pickups in the form of Ristar statues, or by gaining 20,000 points. Points are gained by defeating enemies, or through collectible gems.
Gameplay in the Game Gear version is mostly identical, but features additional levels as well as a number of changes to original ones. Also included are stars that are scattered throughout the levels, which grant the player an extra life upon collecting 100, much like coins in Super Mario.
The game is split up into 7 worlds, each two stages in length, as well as a final boss-only world. The first stage contains a mini-boss, while the second stage contains a main boss. Each stage also contains a bonus stage, which involve reaching a chest in a certain amount of time. If the player reaches the chest in less than a minute, they earn an extra life. If the player completes enough bonus levels, they will be awarded with passwords upon completion of the game.
- Planet Flora: The typical Sonic Team first world: A vegetated forest which introduces the game's mechanics.
- Planet Undertow: A dry desert, containing the game's underwater levels.
- Planet Scorch: An industrial planet with volcanoes. It is filled with fire traps as well as vultures that will pickup the player and drop them in fire.
- Planet Sonata: A metropolis planet. The stage features metronomes that must be carried throughout small puzzle-like areas to give to birds, in order to continue.
- Planet Freon: The game's snow world. Containing things such as slippery ice platforms.
- Planet Automaton: A psychedelic robot world. The player must put to use all the skills they've learned in the game.
- Space City: The game's final world, a short stage followed by two bosses in succession.