Japan: March 23, 2000
Standard controller, Arcade Stick
Jump Pak enabled
Twinkle Star Sprites is an odd one to say the least. In a nutshell, The gameplay can be described as a cross between a fixed vertical shmup and a competitive puzzler rolled into one. Twinkle is the last game to be released by the renowned Alpha Denshi Corp (or ADK) for the NEO GEO platform. The game eventually saw release on various other home consoles including the Dreamcast in Asia thanks to SNK. The gameplay concept is simple and straightforward but quite a challenge when put into play. The play field is split into 2 and the object of the game is to shoot down various enemies in your respective play field and avoid their attacks. Enemies that are shot down are then transferred in various enemy forms to your opponents play field and vice versa. Gameplay becomes as a major tug of war as you try to out-shoot and out-maneuver while at the same time, tactically destroy your enemy bots so your combinations create larger and deadlier enemies to spawn onto your opponents area thus placing the AI or human opponent in a more compromising and difficult position. Arsenals at your disposal is you basic bullet fire, a potent charge shot and limited bombs to clear your area when in a bind. Each character in the selection roster varies in effectiveness and it is up to you as a player to understand their strengths and shortcomings and find the one that suites your style.
If only that damn intro sequence to the game didn't roll by so quickly, I would have an idea what this games prologue story is all about!!!
Visuals aren't too spectacular mainly due to its original hardware architecture as well as its puzzle presentation. The character designs have a very cutesy anime look with a complimentary color palette. The character designs seem to share striking similarities to the legendary Sailor Moon anime series, which perhaps is why the look of the game appeals to me. Yes! I love me some Sailor Moon! Ah... Lets move on shall we...
Audio Dept is passable thanks to its decent customization options for the games soundtrack. For the arcade purest you have the option of selecting the original NEO GEO audio soundtrack as well as an interesting (H)igh (Q)uality version of said soundtrack. Additionally there is also a arranged CD quality version that is more nicer to the ears.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that perhaps Twinkle might not be for everyone. While taking two very niche genres like puzzler and shmup and blending them together is surely a very ambitious production to undertake, the result can perhaps further alienate the already niche genre on both ends. Twinkle is definitely not without its flaws, but overall whats there is truly unique and worth the attention for those that have love for one of these 2 game types. Be sure to give it a run through with a human opponent for multiplayer mayhem... It only elevates the experience so much more!