Every now and then some crazy bastard decides to fuse two genres together and create something of genius. Twinkle Star Sprites combines the competitive puzzle nature of Puyo Puyo and the twitchiness of an overhead shooter to create one of the most original and fun games.
The story resides around a little red riding hood-type girl named Load Ran and her sidekick Rabicat on their quest to find the twinkle star which will grant any wish. Of course, the game is packed full of wacky characters who also want the twinkle star. If this is turning you off please don't hit the back button ... just stay with me. While this all may sound a bit fruity, it's still one of the best, most intense, nerve wracking games you'll play.
Alright, so gameplay, as I said, is a hybrid of shooter and puzzle in the sense that you'll need to time your enemy shots just right to hit your enemies and cause a chain reaction thus earning more points. The game moves quick so you'll need to think and move fast, thankfully the Neo Geo controls are up to the task.
The game uses the Neo Geo hardware nicely, with a great scrolling background effect to make you feel like your flying over some mystical, colorful fair tale land. Characters are best described as cute Manga-style characters with lots of colors to them. Sadly the wickedly fast gameplay does experience some slowdown when things get too busy and you've got a lot of chain reactions going on screen. However, I will point out that the Neo Geo cart handles things far better than any version I've found online to play.
The music isn't anything special, it's sort of a mix of disco and J-Pop ... you'll either love it or hate it. I'd probably just leave the music off.
The game combines puzzle and shooting action together quite nicely and the fast pace will appeal to the twitchy gamer in all of us and the puzzle aspect gives the game some depth. The computer isn't that strong, but as a two-player game Twinkle Star Sprites shines brightly.
So yes, it's another sickeningly cute game for the Neo Geo, but it's an original idea and a fun (albeit sickeningly cute) game! Sadly the game, like all Neo Geo games, commands a steep price. It's been as high as $100 for MVS (arcade) and close to ten times that amount for AES. No matter which way you get it, if you're a shooter fan of puzzle games and shooters then you need to play Twinkle Star Sprites!