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The Days of Sega Channel
I remember the days of the Sega Channel, when I could fire up my Genesis and have loads of games to play that would otherwise be outside of my budget. One of those games was Pulseman; an obscure, Japanese only sidescrolling title that somehow made its way to North America... At least temporarily. I never saw it again after my subscription to Sega Channel ran out, but it stuck in my mind as an interesting, almost Mega Man like game. Years later, it appears again out of the blue on Nintendo's Virtual Console service, taking me by surprise and sending me through a nostalgic trip through the simpler years of gaming. I purchased and downloaded it immediately, and was actually surprised to find the title to be rather challenging.
Despite its scant seven levels of gameplay, Pulseman features long levels and a couple rather challenging bosses. Coupled with the fact that the hero can only take three hits before losing a life, this makes for a pretty interesting experience.
This guide will mainly focus on the bosses and mini-bosses of Pulseman, since the levels themselves really don't need a guide. Like many side scrolling adventure titles, simply head to the right side of the screen, jumping across platforms and taking out enemies. I will, however, mention a couple of tips that might make things just a little easier to get through.
Now, before I begin the guide proper, a simple warning to all gamers. This game features levels with bright, flashing colours and some rapidly scrolling backgrounds. Sometimes, these are both present in the same stage, and can be a strain on the eyes. If you have any inkling that you might be epileptic, I strongly advise you to avoid this game.
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Once you hop through the TV screen and into the virtual world, the battle will start almost immediately. A wireframe hand will shoot out from the left, destroying the blocks beneath your feet as it heads to the right. This is easy enough to jump over, and it's just a simple matter to jump down to the next layer of blocks and fire a charged shot after the boss. If you miss, it will cross from right to left on the top part of the screen and start over with its attack. When you hit it, it will change up its attack, trying to slam down on top of you with a fist (and destroying whatever section of the floor it comes down upon.) When you hit it again, it will revert to its original attack, and so on. You need only hit the wireframe hand six times to defeat it.
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Tip: There isn't a whole lot of instruction given, but the wires that Pulseman travels on from Stage 2 onward can run parallel to other wires, and these can be hopped to simply by pressing in their direction.
The mechanical plant boss in this stage will try to rise from the ground directly beneath you. Simply get out of the way when it starts to kick up debris. Its first attack will be to send its roots along the ground. These are easy to jump over, but you'll get points for taking them out with a charged blast. The boss will then dive and resurface beneath you before throwing out a spiked ball on a wire. Duck the ball and press the A button to travel across the wire and into the boss' core. Following this, the boss will dive, resurface, and start its simple pattern over. Smash into its core five times to destroy the mechanical plant.
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Mini-Boss: As the stage begins, an enemy tank will roll towards you, firing a small projectile every few seconds. Strike at it to push it back, and after six strikes, its weapon will fall off. Once the tank can no longer fire at you, it will charge directly at you. Jump over it, then jump back as it heads back to its initial position. Hit it six more times to send the enemy fleeing. Jumping the charge can be difficult, so don't worry too much if you get hit.
Main Boss: The tank is back on jets that let it rise off of the ground, but it won't be flying around too much. Once it settles into its base on the right side of the screen, it will start its attack pattern. First, it will launch four bird-like robots straight upwards. These little things will fall in a neat little row, with enough space for Pulseman to stand safely in between two of them. They'll start walking left when they hit the ground, and can be easily jumped over or destroyed. As the bird bots are falling, the boss will rise off of the screen and try to come down on Pulseman. He won't fall that fast, so you should have plenty of time to get out of the way. Just be sure you don't jump on any remaining birdies. The boss is vulnerable unless he's off the screen, and will take around twenty hits to defeat.
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Tip: The floating eyeball enemies that you see from here on out are made of water, and will short out Pulseman's charge and Volteccer move. If you see a large block with a lightning bolt on it, hit it; these are the only things than can destroy the eyeballs.
The boss of this stage is a floating mechanical orb that has several forms. The main form is a mechanical looking thing that will shoot three large blasts consecutively when it gets hit by anything. Its pattern of movement is to bob upward, then swoop down to ground level as it travels to the other side of the screen. Fire when it's at its high point, and jump over the swoop.
Each of its alternate forms can take only two hits before returning to its original form, or you could just dodge and wait it out. Best to take it out as soon as possible though. Each of the alternate forms is listed below.
- An orange checkered ball which will bounce around the room at an angle, much the same way Pulseman travels while using Volteccer. It will speed up each time you hit it.
- A watery blue ball which will slowly follow you around the screen until it changes back.
- A wooden looking ball which will bounce up and down in large arcs, shaking the ground as it lands. This shaking will interrupt Pulseman's attempts at dashing.
- A blue checkered ball which will travel across the floor and the room's perimeter, counter-clockwise. It will speed up with each full rotation, and can only be damaged by Pulseman's melee strike.
It will take approximately fourteen hits to beat this boss once and for all.
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Pulseman's evil twin will use Volteccer against Pulseman, bouncing around the room in his attempts to kill the hero. Fight fire with fire and use your Volteccer to knock him out of his attack, since yours is more powerful. The key to defeating this doppleganger is to knock him out of a Volteccer attack, then immediately slash at him before he hits the ground. If you wait too long, he'll simply dash out of the way. It can be tricky, but it only takes seven hits to defeat him.
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Hint: Part of this level features a vertical, water filled shaft that Pulseman will be falling down to reach the bottom. While there are a few solid platforms to be found, most of the obstacles will be spiked balls and mechanical sharks. This part may eat up a few lives... Draw yourself up a map if you can't remember what's coming up.
The submarine boss will move up and down on the right side of the screen, firing the occasional stream of three bullets at Pulseman's location. It will also launch fish shaped torpedos which can be punched back at the boss. Hitting the boss with its own torpedos is the only way to beat it, so dodge the bullets and punch away until you've deflected five torpedos back into its hull.
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Mini-Boss: A boss straight out of an old arcade space shooter, which is fitting for this half of the level. The boss will move vertically, stopping at one of three points before firing a large beam straight ahead. The boss will never skip a step, so you always know when it's going to fire high, mid-screen, or low. To beat this sub boss, wait for it to open up before firing, and toss your own charged blast so that it hits the boss' core. After firing, get out of the way of the beam and repeat. It will take only five hits to finish this boss.
Final Boss- Phase 1: Panels will open up from the top of the screen 'til about half way down, dropping miniature robots that will hop around. One hit destroys each of them. Just keep attacking and sidestepping them. Luckily there cannot be any more than four of these on the screen at a time, but don't let the amount of extra robots pile up.
Final Boss- Phase 2: The final boss is made up of two hands. These will slam the ground on either side to try to hit or disrupt Pulseman, and will also summon two more of the small robot guys. Following this, the hands launch three diamond shaped projectiles each, with the centremost projectile from each hand centering on Pulseman's location at the time of launch. Afterwards, they will slam the ground again, summoning more mini bots if you've killed one or both of the first pair. The next attack is a very large ball of energy that moves quicker than it looks. Start moving just as the hands are coming together for the attack; delay any more than than and you risk getting hit. The hands will then start the pattern over, summoning more mini bots if they can.
This fight can be tough with all the projectiles and enemies moving about the screen, but it's not an exceptionally difficult fight. Eight hits is all it takes to remove each hand from the fight.
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With the final boss out of the way, enjoy the ending scene and the relatively short credits. If you liked the music of Pulseman, there is a sound test available in the options menu. I hope this guide could be of some help, and if you could get past the trippy scenery, I hope you enjoyed this little piece of Sega's history.