Pulstar is a shoot 'em up developed by now defunct Aicom Co. Ltd and published by SNK for the Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD and arcade. It is the prequel of Blazing Star, and spiritual sequel of R-Type. Pulstar, as well as its sequel, are often regarded as among the best-looking shoot 'em up games of for the Neo Geo.
The basic gameplay is simple: progress through the levels in your spacecraft, collecting powerups and protecting your spacecraft from destruction. The game has very obvious similarities in design and gameplay to R-Type. It is actually believed that some ex-Irem employees left the company to join Aicom, which used to be a subcontractor for various coin-op manufacturers like Jaleco or SNK.
Despite the familiarities, Pulstar is not without innovations. There is the option of using the weapon power bar, which consists of two halves. The right-hand side of the bar turns blue when you depress the fire button, when fully charged your ship delivers a devastating emission of energy. Meanwhile the left-hand side turns red when it is continually pressed, shooting out a barrage of smaller, rapid blasts.
The in-game visuals are mostly pre-rendered 3D graphics, which gives the interactive elements a far more realistic appearance. Great care was taken to really place the player into the world of the game, with cinematic style cut scenes and pre-rendered movies.
There is a hefty reliance on strategy and not just blasting everything in sight. Using the charged weapon is key, and requires careful precision. Also, once you obtain a power up, a small orb appears at the posterior end of your ship. This can be used to your advantage by deflecting/absorbing oncoming enemy fire and taking out small enemies that run into it.