Ristar: Wikis


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Box art of Ristar, European version
Developer(s) Sonic Team
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Hiroshi Aso (Producer)
Akira Nishino & Takeshi Niimura (Director)
Yuji Naka (Game Conecpt & Project Manager)
Takumi Miyake (Chief Designer)
Artist(s) Yuji Uekawa (Character Designer)
Composer(s) Tomoko Sasaki
License Commercial
Engine Proprietary
Platform(s) Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Game Gear, Virtual Console

Compilation releases:
PSP, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Release date(s) JP February 17, 1995
NA February 16, 1995
EU February 18, 1995
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) ELSPA: 3-10 (Mega Drive)
Media 16-megabit cartridge

Ristar (Ristar the Shooting Star (リスター・ザ・シューティングスター Risutā za Shūtingu Sutā ?) in Japan) is a platform game published by Sega and developed by Sonic Team for the Sega Mega Drive in 1995.

The game stars a cartoonish humanoid star who uses his hands to both move and combat enemies. It was originally released on the Mega Drive, and was also included as an unlockable game in Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube and on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 and PC as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus. A Game Gear version which features different levels than the Mega Drive version was also released.

The game is also available in North America on Sega Genesis Collection for PS2 and PlayStation Portable, on Wii's Virtual Console service,[1] and as a part of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.



Ristar developed from an idea originally put forward during design talks for the character who would later become Sonic the Hedgehog. Yuji Naka, 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.[1]

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 phased out and the character no longer used his ears, but his arms (though there is an enemy rabbit that uses its ears to attack in the first level). After some changes in the main character, and going through several names (including "Dextar"), 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.


The game takes place in the seven-planet Valdi System (also known as the "Vadji" System according to the back of the European box). An evil space pirate, Kaiser Greedy, has made the planets' leaders obey him. The inhabitants of Planet Neer (Flora outside Japan) 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 Mega Drive versions outside Japan, Oruto is not seen. 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. However, Oruto is still seen in the Game Gear version.


Ristar is unable to jump as high as most platformer protagonists do, but his jumps have a bit more hang time, meaning he stays in the air longer. By pressing the grab button, Ristar will stretch his hands forward, grabbing whatever is ahead of him. The player can make his hands go in any one of eight directions by combining the attack with any direction on the control pad, except downward while on the ground. When Ristar grabs an enemy, he will continue to hold it until the button is released, causing him to collide with the enemy and destroy them. He can also grab walls and obstacles this way and it is possible, albeit time-consuming, to climb walls by continually grabbing diagonally up a wall. It is possible to get on top of walls via this method, but it is rather difficult because of the timing and reflexes needed to keep Ristar from plummeting. This move can be used in a variety of ways, such as grabbing a mid-air enemy to swing across gaps, or holding onto an enemy to avoid getting pulled in by a current.

Ristar's health is shown as four stars in the upper-right corner of the screen. Taking damage removes one star. When all four are gone, the last star falls on Ristar's head and he loses a life. Stars can be found throughout the levels, which replenish his health. These and other items must be picked up manually with Ristar's attack. A gold star restores one hit point, while a silver star refills health completely. A tiny icon of Ristar adds an extra life to the total.

During levels, the player will occasionally come across cranks with a star-shaped base that, when grabbed, they may be spun on to gain momentum and shoot off toward the edge of the screen. The player may control Ristar's speed and direction with the control pad. If he has enough momentum, Ristar will begin to fly with a trail of stars behind him (called a "Shooting Star"). During these flights, any enemies that are touched will be destroyed and regular hazards will not deal any damage. Since Ristar flies at a high speed and rebounds easily, it can be difficult to control his flight and on Hard and Super difficulties, his flight cannot be controlled at all. When Ristar loses enough momentum, he will cease flight and drop to the ground, though his momentum will last longer from bouncing off walls than just flying straight. At the end of all regular levels, a more elaborate crank will appear for Ristar to fly from. This allows the player to gain a great amount of altitude and the higher Ristar is when he leaves the screen, the more bonus points are added on to the player's score.

Each regular level also contains one special crank that Ristar can grab onto. Grabbing this makes him automatically spin and launch himself off the top of screen into a bonus stage. These bonus stages involve getting through an obstacle course in order to reach a treasure within a given time limit. Completing the level in a fast time will earn the player a continue. Their difficulty increases as the game progresses. When the game is completed, cheat codes are revealed depending on how many treasures are collected.

Each planet consists of a mini-boss at the end of the first level, and a main boss after the second. Some of the minigame bosses involve puzzles, such as hitting enemies in the order they appear.


The shooting star and son of the Legendary Hero. Whilst he has a sweet, playful personality, he has strongly dedicated himself to save the galaxy.
Oluta (Oruto in Japan)
Nebula of the Star Goddess, who sends Ristar to aid the planets; does not appear in the English Mega Drive version.
Kaiser Greedy 
A greedy space pirate who sends several black orbs to possess creatures to do his bidding. He can fire lightning and create black holes, as well as teleport.
A monkey-like creature who is shown to invade Planet Flora in the introduction while the leader prays for Ristar's help. He has the ability to control creatures like a puppet, using their abilities to his advantage. Ristar confronts him while he controls the planet's leader.
A hammerhead shark from Planet Undertow. He charges at his opponent and bangs on surroundings to cause cave-ins.
Awahan (Adahan in Japan)
A mechanical mole creature from Planet Scorch. He can burrow in the ground, hover, and shoot his claws at opponents.
Adaueck (Awaueck in Japan)
A giant bird from Planet Sonata, who singing is so horrid that the notes themselves can hurt opponents.
A large creature from Planet Freon. He likes chewing on ice, giving him icy breath, and can suck anything into his mouth, but he dislikes hot and spicy food.
A muscular creation from Planet Automaton. He can throw heavy objects and has a variety of kung-fu-like moves at his disposal.
Greedy's brainy minion. He pilots a mechanical serpent on Greedy's Space Kingdom, which is compiled with a shield and defenses, but does require fixing very often.

(note that the names for Uranim and Inonis were switched in European releases)

Version differences

Aside from the aforementioned storyline changes, several other notable differences exist between the Japanese and International versions of Ristar.[2]

  • Planet names change between the different versions of Ristar.
  • The Western version's enemies were altered to appear more threatening, and the "angry" Ristar sprite is used throughout the entire game.
  • Most of the idle animations have been removed in Western versions.
  • A skiing sequence was added to the start of round five. Sprites for a skiing Ristar actually exist in the Japanese ROM, though it is completely unused.
  • Itamor was changed from a giant mechanical cat to an ice monster. This is because of a pun ('cat-tongue') that works in Japanese.
  • Anti-gravity shoes were added to round six. However, the "swimming on air" sequence still exists in the Japanese version. The same shoe sprites exist in the Japanese ROM as well.
  • Notes appear next to the giant mechanical birds when they are about to peck down on Planet Neuos / Sonata. This was removed in Western versions, though the birds still stop moving their heads right before they peck.
  • The names of the treasures in the bonus stages were removed. On a related note, if all the treasures are collected, Ristar says "Miracle" in the Japanese version and "Good job" in the Western versions.
  • The European version of Ristar is one of the few Mega Drive games to take advantage of the larger resolution used by PAL systems.
  • The second stage of the Japanese Game Gear version, Fanturn, is edited in the English versions. The first part is entirely cut, and only the second part exists. It is dubbed Terra, and gives off more of an earthly vibe than the original "fantasy dream" tone.
  • Also in the Game Gear version, Planet Timu is renamed Freon for its similarity to the Mega Drive version in that sense, despite the levels having more of a focus on time and clocks.
  • The ending scene shown after credits in the Japanese version of the game, shows that Greedy, Uranim, and Inonis ended up on a deserted planet or moon. A picture of Ristar appears in the space, while Greedy simply stares at it. The English version shows Ristar being re-united with his father again.


Although sales were not highly successful due to the increasing popularity of 32 and 64 bit video game technologies, it sold enough to be considered popular. The critic score, according to GameSpot, is 9.5 (by 2 reviews) and its user score is 8.9, one of the top ranked scores for a Mega Drive game.[3] 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".[4] Many gamers consider this to be one of the most overlooked Genesis/Mega Drive games of all time.

Appearances in other games

Compared to other Sega mascots, Ristar has only made a few minor appearances in other games. He briefly appears in the opening sequence to the Japan-only Segagaga. He is also featured as one of the 'Gachapons' (capsule toys) in Shenmue. A comic strip starring Ristar was featured in the unofficial web continuation of Sonic the Comic, and he also makes a brief cameo appearance in issue 50 of the Sonic Archie comic.[5]


External links

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Box artwork for Ristar.
Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Yuji Uekawa
Release date(s)
Sega Genesis
 Feruary 17, 1995
Wii Virtual Console
Genre(s) Platform
System(s) Sega Genesis, Sega Channel, Wii Virtual Console
Players 1
ESRB: Kids to Adults
ESRB: Everyone
For the Sega Game Gear version, see Ristar (Game Gear).

Table of Contents

Ristar/Table of Contents

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