(Wii Virtual Console / Mega Drive)

Pulseman (Wii Virtual Console / Mega Drive)

Game Review

Pulseman Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Will Pulseman's quality shock you?

Ask yourself this - what games have Game Freak actually developed? Many people will probably only answer with "Pokémon," but the truth is, before Pokémon was even created, Game Freak was responsible for a handful of unique titles of their own.

Pulseman was strangely only released in Japan originally. It was temporarily available on the "Sega Channel," a sort of download service for the Mega Drive/Genesis, but despite this was never released as a retail game outside Japan.

In the game you take the role of the titular Pulseman. The world-famous scientist Dr. Yoshiyama created him by entering the world inside computers, and merging his DNA with an Artificial Intelligence (don't ask!), thus resulting in a half-human, half-robotic boy. Eventually, living inside computers took its toll on Dr. Yoshiyama and corrupted his brain, turning him into the evil Dr. Waruyama. Dr. Waruyama decides to take over the world like any other good villain usually tries to do, and he has a whole gang of "cyber-terrorists" to help him.

Pulseman pretty much plays just like any other platformer. You make your way through various stages, defeating or avoiding enemies, collecting items and defeating a boss at the end of each one. Pulseman’s moves make this game somewhat unique: his speciality is electricity, which means he stores energy and releases an electric discharge in the form of a ball-shaped projectile. Energy is stored by running, but you can also instantly charge up by simply dashing forward once. This is slightly more risky though, as you never know what's coming up! When you're not charged, your only means of defending yourself are a close-range slash attack and a kick. Be careful with these attacks though - it's hard to hit with them, and Pulseman can only take three hits before dying, and any extra health is pretty rare!

When charged, you can also jump into the air and then dash in any direction you want instead of only being able to dash along the ground. This move is called the "Volteccer", and can be used to reach higher platforms and thus possibly items, but be careful: if you hit a wall while doing a Volteccer, you will bounce off like a pinball! The Volteccer can also be used to travel along electricity lines, which is a cool feature. One thing you'll really want to look for are items such as computer monitors: jumping into these will take you to a virtual mini-stage inside. Once you make it to the end you will reappear in the main stage at a much further point.

There's only seven stages total in the game, but each of them is quite long. The first level takes place in a simple city environment, but after that you'll visit slightly more varied locations like jungles, casinos and even the inside of an arcade game, complete with a score display! For the first six stages, you always get a choice of which one you want to tackle next, like the Mega Man titles, but eventually you'll have to do all of them. The seventh, final stage always comes last, for obvious reasons!

The most surprisingly good things about the game are the graphics and music. Pulseman is one of the nicest-looking Mega Drive/Genesis games, with big, detailed sprites, colourful environments and some really creative designs. The game has a large amount of different music, and almost all of it is very upbeat and catchy, which means you'll almost always have a nice beat to go along with the action. The game also includes a surprising amount of voice acting, which is all in English! That means that you can easily tell what's going on, even though there are also Japanese subtitles to go along with it.

Conclusion

It's a mystery why Pulseman was never released on cartridge outside Japan. Even with the Japanese text you can understand everything that's going on, and it definitely seems like a game that would've appealed to western audiences. Its fun, challenging, and decently-sized, looks and sounds great and is just an all-around great game. Now that it's finally available to everybody, do yourself a favour and check out what Game Freak made before Pokémon - you won't regret it!

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User Comments (52)

pixelman

#1

pixelman said:

Mmm, this isn't the FIRST Mega Man ripoff I've seen. Looks good though, I can't wait for a US release.

WolfRamHeart

#2

WolfRamHeart said:

Oh Sweet!!! This game looks really awesome! I loved Drill Dozer and I'm sure I'll love this!:)

Machu

#3

Machu said:

Pulseman was completely under my radar having never heard of it. Thanks for introducing it to me, looks cool!

Outrunner

#4

Outrunner said:

Now this is what the VC is about. I saw screens of this game years ago and wanted to play it instantly. I downloaded it as soon as I saw it and haven't regretted it. It's a great wee game. If only they'd released it in the west back in the early 90's.

Objection

#5

Objection said:

"Now that its finally available to everybody" except that small little continent known as North America. ;)

y2josh

#7

y2josh said:

"Now that its finally available to everybody" Hopefully, you are really Reggie and let something slip about Monday's NA releases :) I've been looking forward to playing this one since the first time you guys mentioned it. It looks really fun.

KnucklesSonic8

#8

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Yes, glad to hear that it lives up to the wait we've had to endure to see this finally arrive. Hoping to see it tomorrow. It's about time we finally get our hands on it. :D

Stuffgamer1

#9

Stuffgamer1 said:

DRILL DOZER! At least WolfRamHeart knows what's good. :P
Okay, now that I've overreacted to the first paragraph, I'll read the review. ;)

The second paragraph makes it sound like it was released on the SEGA Channel outside of Japan, but not on a cart (like Golden Axe 3). If that was so, wouldn't it be fully English, even the text? The game sounds pretty good, but I don't know if I'd want to try it if it isn't 100% English... I might just wind up disappointed like I did with Do Re Mi Fantasy. :(

jhuhn

#10

jhuhn said:

The ESRB has rated the game as E a few months ago, so it could be a future North America release for 900 Wii points if Nintendo of America considers it. With not many VC and VC Arcade games rated and planned for a release, you know why they are mostly doing one VC game a week.

sfog

#12

sfog said:

"The second paragraph makes it sound like it was released on the SEGA Channel outside of Japan, but not on a cart (like Golden Axe 3). If that was so, wouldn't it be fully English, even the text? The game sounds pretty good, but I don't know if I'd want to try it if it isn't 100% English... I might just wind up disappointed like I did with Do Re Mi Fantasy. "

It was also untranslated on the US Sega Channel. That version still retained the Japanese stage descriptions and cutscene subtitles. There is far less Japanese text than DoReMi Fantasy has though, and both are excellent games IMO.

Moai_Head

#14

Moai_Head said:

@sfog - based on my quick experiences with the VC release I believe it is entirely untranslated, much like the US Sega Channel release. It's been a long time since I played the original but I'm positive that nothing at all has been translated. Honestly, none of the Japanese text is vital to the gameplay and you'll get the gist of the cutscenes regardless of the fact that the subtitles aren't in English.

I really wish the VC reviews actually addressed some of this stuff and weren't just based on downloaded ROMs.

Slapshot

#15

Slapshot said:

Ill be downloading this when I get my new Wii. Loved Drill Dozer myself so I know that they can make more than just Pokemon games.

Twilight_Crow

#17

Twilight_Crow said:

A Game Freak's japanese import that looks like a mix of Sonic and Megaman with a touch of Rocket Knight, mmm...
COUNT ME IN! :)

Btw, Yes, Drill Dozer rules!

Noire

#19

Noire said:

Another FYI (since wanderlustwarrior beat me to the first one), but the Pikachu line's special attack, Volt Tackle, is also based off of Pulseman's Volteccer. In Japan, the move is called Volteccer.

On-topic: I've wanted to give this game a try since finding out about it. It looks pretty good.

SKTTR

#20

SKTTR said:

Can you save? Are there passwords? Continues? Can you set the difficulty? How many lives? How difficult?

This is the info I need before spending 900 points.

Stuffgamer1

#21

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Moai Head: You underestimate my intolerance of Japanese text in my games. You also aren't describing this the same way as sfog. His description doesn't sound TOO bad. Between the review and him, am I supposed to understand that the story is actually in English? That'd be fine. I can live with Japanese level names, but I MUST be able to understand the story.

linrek-1

#22

linrek-1 said:

@skttr no save, no password
5 continues, no difficulty settings, about 3 lives with 3 health each.
difficulty is something between mario bros and the lost levels... Not that hard but you might need to start over one or two times.

Moai_Head

#23

Moai_Head said:

@Stuffgamer1 - I replied to sfog because I couldn't be bothered to find the username of whoever he quoted (ie. you). The game's story is entirely untranslated. Buy it anyway.

sfog

#24

sfog said:

"His description doesn't sound TOO bad. Between the review and him, am I supposed to understand that the story is actually in English? That'd be fine. I can live with Japanese level names, but I MUST be able to understand the story."

There isn't really much of a story to speak of. The intro cutscene has about 5 lines of (unvoiced) Japanese text. Each stage has about a two line description written in Japanese, and the rest of the in-game cutscenes are all voiced in English with Japanese subtitles.

Betagam7

#25

Betagam7 said:

Marcel, unfortunately your review doesn't mention the fact that despite this game being a Hanabi import title it has been downgraded for its European PAL release so that it now features borders, runs 17% slower and features squashed graphics.
I can understand why you don't mention this in an ordinary Mega Drive release which is the same as the original but the point here is that this IS NOT the same as the original. This is an important point missing from your review and indeed NL's reviews of all Hanabi Mega Drive games.

MethodOne

#26

MethodOne said:

This game would probably be released in North America on some random "import week" or at the same time as an upcoming Pokémon game.

thewiirocks

#28

thewiirocks said:

The story reminds me of the 80's cartoon Silverhawks. As the title tune said, "they're partly metal, partly real". Whatever that was supposed to mean. :P

Bensei

#29

Bensei said:

How much is it a Mega Man clone? I might check it out if it's very similiar :P
Man, I should play through my X3-X8 before getting clones :P

JoeDiddley

#30

JoeDiddley said:

I love Japanese games. Ironically then I suck at difficult games.
Is the first level easier so I can have a go at selecting the later levels?

sfog

#31

sfog said:

You can choose to finish the first set of three levels in any order you want, followed by the second set of three in any order.

DamoAdmin

#32

Damo said:

@Betagam7 - We stopped mentioning the PAL speed drop ages ago. In the beginning we were very vocal about getting Nintendo to do something about it, but we were ignored like everyone else and now most people have come to accept it.

Lotice-Paladin

#33

Lotice-Paladin said:

@Damo: It's true that the speed can be a problem but since I've played 50hz since I was a kid, I am not bothered at all about the speed since you get used to it plus it has it's advantages (e.g: Slightly more response time).

Also I don't care if the game has Japanese text. As long as I can play it without any control problems I am happy. Plus it'll brush up the old Japanese skills. ;)

Stuffgamer1

#36

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Moai Head: Well, aren't YOU an inconsiderate donkey? If an untranslated story is grounds for me to not download a game, it's not YOUR place to order me otherwise, much less to act as though my concerns were completely meaningless.

@sfog: That sounds handleable. Much more so than Do Re Mi, anyway. Thanks for the info. Of course, it's kinda moot unless NA actually gets this game at some point. It took over two years to get out of Japan at all on VC, and there's no TELLING how long it could take to release here!

Moai_Head

#37

Moai_Head said:

@Stuffgamer1 - don't you think you're being just a tad melodramatic? I don't care whether you get the game or not, but it seems entirely unreasonable to deny yourself the chance to play a worthwhile game because you can't read Game Freak's take on "The princess is in another castle!" This isn't Hemingway, it's a 90's platformer. Lighten up.

Also, Sega are generally pretty good about cross-region releases so I wouldn't expect there to be much of a wait.

Stuffgamer1

#38

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Moai Head: So I'm picky like that. It actually WOULD annoy me if Lost Levels wasn't in English. But for some odd reason, it's one of only TWO import titles that is (that I know of)! You may think I'M unreasonable, but maybe I think YOU'RE unreasonable, settling for untranslated yet still price-jacked games. If they can't even be bothered to translate them, they should be CHEAPER than regular releases, imo.

The only Japanese import game I own and have no problem with is Tingle's Balloon Fight DS, because there is literally NO story, just a few simple menus to memorize the workings of. I stopped playing Do Re Mi because it's in Japanese, and I'd probably wind up doing the same with any other game with a story to it, regardless of how long and complicated it is.

Anyway, all I did was state my opinion earlier, and you had to sound all offensive with your posts, downplaying the language problems with the game. Not cool or necessary. :(

HappyHappy

#39

HappyHappy said:

I remember playing this. It was a little difficult for me at the time but, I enjoyed playing it.

XD375

#40

XD375 said:

Trivia: Pikachu's final smash in Brawl is actually Volteccer, and it's used the same way Pulseman uses it. Volteccer is known as Volt Tackle in the English versions of Pokémon. There's actually many references to Pulseman in the Pokémon series.

ICEknight

#41

ICEknight said:

"Marcel, unfortunately your review doesn't mention the fact that despite this game being a Hanabi import title it has been downgraded for its European PAL release so that it now features borders, runs 17% slower and features squashed graphics."

WHAT? It doesn't run fullspeed in PAL consoles? Yet another game I'm not getting just because of SEGA's stupidity, jeez.

And I agree that it's very important to have this kind of info in these review. I almost get tricked this time.

slangman

#42

slangman said:

@Iceknight - As hard as it is to believe Sega actually downgrade their imports to run in 50hz with borders. They also done this with Puyo Puyo 2, Gley Lancer and Columns III. The same thing will happen with MUSHA.

Stuffgamer1

#44

Stuffgamer1 said:

Didn't take so long after all, huh? Being informed as to what I should expect by sfog, I decided to download this game. It's really good, and there really is almost no Japanese text, so I'm happy with it. :)

Crazed

#45

Crazed said:

This is the first VC game that has caught my attention since Zelda MM. Looks sweet.

Betagam7

#46

Betagam7 said:

Damo, we are not talking about ordinary PAL games being released in 50hz as a replication of how they originally were. We are talking about IMPORT NTSC games being DOWNGRADED by SEGA while they charge us and extra 100 points for the privilige. THIS IS A NEW ISSUE and something that doesn't happen with any other PAL Hanabi release.

As I understand it You (i.e nintendolife) have a contact at Sega Marketing who are asking you to garner readers opinions on future releases, surely then this is the perfect time to raise this issue and get a response from them.

MFGreth

#47

MFGreth said:

God damn I love Pulseman.

When they introduced Pikachu's move "Volt Tackle", a Pulseman reference, into Pokemon, I totally geeked out.

CanisWolfred

#48

CanisWolfred said:

A quality Title, just as I expected!:D I'll pick it up as soon as I can...which may not be that soon at all.:(

Sushie

#49

Sushie said:

I suck at games, so I will probably pass on this one, though it looks interesting. One must their limits. Plus I'm broke :(

Rawk_Hawk

#50

Rawk_Hawk said:

Simply one of the best Genesis titles I have ever played. A must download im my opinion.

alvieao

#51

alvieao said:

Game Freak is largely known for the main installments in the Pokémon franchise, but they also developed lesser-known works like the average NES puzzler Yoshi and the Japan-only Mario & Wario. Once released on the short-lived Sega Channel service for Genesis, Pulseman didn't reach Western shores again until 15 years later (and on a downloadable service again). When I first played this game, Pulseman seemed like a cross between Sonic and Mega Man. However, it was much different but that isn't a bad thing. Simply this, the game looks, sounds and plays great all-around. That being said, Pulseman is a fantastic game that's worth the download. Pulseman is often referenced in the Pokémon series, right down to the Voltteccer attack (Pikachu's Volt Tackle). There's even a Pulseman homage in the GBA game Drill Dozer (also by Game Freak), which is another gem you must play.

MageNoobMan57

#52

MageNoobMan57 said:

Good review. I saw this game featured in a magazine aboout 2 years ago, the column was about overseas VC games. glad its finally released here- cant wait to download it

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