If I say the name Game Freak, you might recognize it due to them being the developers of Pokemon (which I neglected to mention in my Pokemon Blue review), and currently they work exclusively behind Nintendo. But of course, they didn’t start out that way, and though their earliest titles are on the NES (like the previously reviewed Yoshi), they had a few that came out for the PC, PlayStation and Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis as we North Americans know it). According to my research, most of these are Japanese only games, but one was brought to us thanks to the Wii Virtual Console. Let’s take a look at Pulseman, originally for the Sega Master Drive, but I’ll be playing it on the Wii Virtual Console.
Since ported games on the Virtual Console are still not translated for some reason, my understanding of the game’s story relies somewhat on fan translations. But basically Pulseman seems to be a unique individual able to cross over from virtual reality to the real world at will. He was created when his father, Doctor Yoshiyama entered into the virtual world to be with a virtual woman he loved and they produced an offspring. I think this might be why Pulseman was never came to America: they weren’t ready for man on data action. However, though Yoshiyama could enter the virtual reality and produce an offspring that could leave, it seems that he was stuck for a while. This would have a negative effect over time and would result in two Matrix sequels- I mean Yoshiyama going insane. When he finally gets out he has become the evil Doctor Waruyama and establishes a group of cyber terrorists he calls the Galaxy Gang. The only person who can stop them from taking over all of the world’s technology is the only one who can stop their mayhem in the virtual world as well as the real one: Pulseman.
The story behind Pulseman is interesting, especially considering he sounds like he’s just a rejected Megaman robot master. The idea that the main villain is actually Pulseman’s creator, turned mad due to what he did for love, actually creates some tension and could play out like a tragedy. Here’s the problem: this is pretty much told to us from the start. This would be like if at the beginning of A New Hope, Luke’s aunt said “It really sucked that your father went crazy trying to protect you and your mother and became Darth Vader”. Still, it’s a neat emotional twist to the plot, which was more than I expected from a game that revolves around the Cyberspace trope.
With a name like Pulseman, the core game mechanics would of course rely on electricity. You have two kinds of attacks, but the more interesting thing is how you get to use your powers. You need to power them up by running, and this is an interesting mechanic. But it has a fatal problem: you basically have two speeds, slow and fast, and the shift between is just so sudden. However, you can also charge up by double tapping forward or backwards, as Pulseman will jolt in that direction and be fully charged. I found this ruins the strategy of running around and finding enough room to use your good attacks, since this will work even if you hit into a wall. It’s a shame that this game mechanic had so much potential.
But beyond that, the platforming is still good. Being fully changed allows you to shoot a straight shot of electricity or bounce around in an electric ball (which is a great way to say yourself from dying). I found the difficulty to be a good middle ground, as you’ll need to know what you’re doing, but it’s never frustrating. All around, the only flaw is the lack of “smoothness” coming from the speed system.Pulseman is a great game, it could have just been that extra bit better. The music is good and the graphics are awesome! The game play is a pretty amusing as long as you don’t have to suddenly run, and everything has a cool techno atmosphere to it. This is a pretty good game that I am glad we get to now experience, and it’s pretty clear this game means something to Game Freaks too: the Galaxy Game may have inspired Team Galactic in 4th Generation Pokemon, there’s a guy in Pokemon Platnium that looks like Doctor Waruyama, Rotom is shaped a bit like the title character, Remoraid looks like an enemy in the game and the “Volt-Tackle” is one of Pulseman’s two attacks (Pikachu’s final smash in Super Smash Bros. Brawl looks just like this move too). If this game just felt a lot smoother, I could see myself giving this game a perfect score. But, I just can’t get over the momentum problems I felt while replaying this game for this review. I give Pulseman available on the Wii Virtual Console 9 levels out of 10.