Ristar has some of the most spectacular and varied bosses I’ve ever experienced in a sidescrolling platformer. Though they aren’t all hits (such as Scorch’s somewhat irritating Simon Say’s sub boss) the five bosses below will remain some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had on the Genesis (and Game Gear), Ristar’s rogues gallery has some star players that are worth highlighting. I’d like to note that I purposefully left out the final bosses of the games, partially to avoid spoiling people who haven’t beaten these cult classics, and to highlight some more varied experiences from the games.
Some of these bosses never received official names. This article will be referencing the names used in Ristar Star Cluster for this article.
The Maestro (Unofficial Name)
Sonata is a planet that’s all about music and rhythm, so it should come as no surprise that the bosses center around these elements as well. Though the main boss of Sonata, Awaueck, is a solid boss, but the more interesting of the two is most definitely Maestro.
The first level of Sonata is spent restoring music to the world by throwing metronomes at songbirds. Over the course of the stage the music continues to build as each bird adds its voice to it, until it finally culminates at the end, when you reach Maestro. Maestro attacks you with three robotic birds and a slew of orblets, all of which attack you to in time to the rhythm of the stage’s soundtrack.
Maestro isn’t the most epic boss I’ve encountered, but it’s certainly much more memorable than many final bosses I’ve seen.
Insomnis (Unofficial Name)
It was when I first encountered Insomes that I knew the Game Gear version was far more than just a port of the Genesis game. This boss spends most of the fight sleeping, and if you want to beat him you’ve got to figure out how to keep him up. You can only do that by attacking a bat at the top of the screen that periodically covers up a lamp so that Insomnis can sleep, and you can only reach the bat by grabbing onto bubbles that pop out of the boss’s nose while it snores.
This is a surprisingly complicated boss battle and forces you to actually take a step back and figure it out. The boss area’s backgrounds can be pretty trippy too, changing between several locations everytime the boss falls asleep and wakes up. Given that I was expecting the Game Gear version to just be a slower, clunkier version of what I played on the Genesis, I was surprised to find a boss that actually measured up to and surpassed many of Genesis bosses.
Planet Freon is easily the cutest, happiest stage in the entire game. Ristar slips and slides through much of the level and will make little snowmen as part of his idle animation. The cutest part of this stage is Young Biped. This little alien follows you throughout the stages, occasionally appeaing in the background or harassing you with spikes and a bomb. This all culminates in what is probably the most surprising boss battle I’ve ever played in a platformer: a snowball fight.
Like I’ve said in my other Ristar articles, this is a game that will discard game play ideas and gimmicks almost as soon as it introduces them, and in this case we get a gimmick that doesn’t even get a level to itself. Ristar automatically starts making actual, throwable snowballs that he can chuck at the biped. It’s a simple concept, but it’s a cute and fun one that comes completely out of left field as far as boss fights go. Moments like this help lend Ristar a real feeling of fun and whimsy, and to make it even better, this boss fight even kind of develops Ristar’s “plot”. The young biped returns in the stage’s final boss fight as an ally, playing a vital role in defeating it.
One of the biggest differences between Ristar and most other platformers is how swimming works: moving around underwater is actually fun and not a chore. Ristar’s swimming controls feel very natural, feeling more akin to Ecco the Dolphin then a platformer. This is a great thing too, because Ohsat is no slouch: if you aren’t quick to get out of the way he will wreck you. He’ll charge through the battlefield quickly, bang against the cave wall and cause rocks to fall from the ceiling, and drop mines all around, all of which can be very difficult to avoid.
What makes Ohsat interesting is the way the battlefield changes throughout the fight. Every time you hit Ohsat he’ll bounce around the stage and destroy a cork in the ocean floor, causing the water level to fall. In order to beat him you’ve got to destroy all four corks and empty out the arena, causing a drop in the water level with ever successful blow. This results in a very natural escalation in difficulty beyond a boss simply moving faster or changing how it attacks as most other platformers tend to do. As with all of the best things about Ristar, this battle is both simple and inventive.
The battle with Adahan is epic, not in in the over played internet kitten on a keyboard sort of way, but in the classic Hercules shoving a sword up a hydra’s ass sort of way (alright, that isn’t actually how he did it, but you get the idea). Alright, I am over-exaggerating things a bit, but Adahan is still a very cool boss and one of my favorite on the Genesis.
This fight sees Ristar heading into the caverns of Planet Scorch and doing battle with a mechanical mole. The mole’s attacks are random, ranging from an aerial attacks to throwing up a wave of damaging soil. When you’ve pissed him off enough, Adahan will then proceed to break the floor, sending both himself and Ristar into a freefall as they engage in an aerial battle. He’ll do it twice in the fight, and the first time he did it to me caught me completely off guard. It totally changes how the battle needs to be fought and lends the battle a certain amount of scale and epicness that I’m not used to seeing in cutesy platformers, at least not until the final boss.
Those are my top five bosses! Hope you’ve been enjoying Ristar week so far, because we aren’t done yet!Ad: