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Video Game / Twinkle Star Sprites

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"Yummm, i wanna go back to my castle and munch sweet tacos!"
Twinkle Star Sprites is a Cute 'em Up created by ADK in 1996. It was initially released as an arcade game for the Neo Geo platform and is available for the Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, and as well as Windows, Macintosh, Linux.

In Story mode, you play as Load Ran with her faithful Rabbicat as they try to find the Magical Twinkle Star and save their world from the evil Mevious and his henchmen. Along the way, she encounters friend and foe alike after the Twinkle Star themselves or are trying to stop Ran from doing so. Free Character mode lets you play as one of the other characters and lets you see what would happen if they got the Twinkle Star.

This is where it gets interesting. Unlike most Shoot 'em Ups where players play cooperatively, Twinkle Star Sprites is a competitive shooter where one player is pitted against another or the computer across the screen, where each player has their own half of the field. The game itself is rather short, so its main attraction is in Versus Mode, where players can choose one of nine characters (thirteen, if you count the four secret characters). Players attack each other by destroying enemies and their explosions can be chained together to wipe out more enemies. When the chain ends, fireballs (how many depend on how long the chain is) are volleyed over in varying trajectories across the screen to the other player's side. These fireballs can be shot back by destroying them or if they get caught in another chained explosion. If these flashing fireballs are destroyed again individually, you will perform a character-specific extra attack, but if destroyed in a group of 3 or more indirectly (as in, by the explosions of enemies around it), you will perform a boss attack, which summons a mini-boss to the opponent's field to really mess up their game. The gameplay can quickly get even more hectic with the appearance of a Fever orb (activated only by a bomb or an enemy explosion), which doubles the speed and rate at which fireballs are shot.

Sound complicated? While it's difficult to explain, in play it's actually incredibly simple and incredibly addictive, while still providing a fairly in-depth metagame. Matches on average last anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes; any longer and you've got two really skilled players. If you're curious, gameplay videos can be found here.

There is a sequel on the Playstation 2 called Twinkle Star Sprites: La Petite Princesse, released in 2005, though it was not released stateside. It introduced a new cast of characters (mostly clones of the original cast), as well as having a few returning characters (namely, Load Ran, Dark Ran, Really Till, Yan Yan-Yung, Memory, and technically Kim) for a total of fifteen characters (Load Ran, Really Till, and the final boss Mikoto are unlockables). The rest of the cast usually shows up in the story mode at some point as a cameo, but were ultimately not playable (Arthur, Mevious, and even the titular character Sprites herself is this).

In celebration of the Neo Geo's 25th anniversary, an port of the arcade version was released on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux through Humble Bundle in late 2015. For those that missed the Humble Neo Geo 25th Anniversary Bundle, the game became available through the Humble Store a mouth later either individually or through bundles of other Neo Geo titles. Another port of the arcade version was released through Steam in May 2016 and a year later with online multiplayer and Achievements.

For similar games, see Touhou Project's Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream, Phantasmagoria of Flower View and Unfinished Dream of All Living Ghost, as well as Seihou's Kioh Gyoku.

Tropes used in Twinkle Star Sprites:

  • Action Girl: Every female character.
  • Anime Chinese Girl: Meirin, the extra character from the Saturn version. Doubles as a cosplay fanatic.
  • Anime Theme Song: The Sega Saturn version received an anime FMV opening for the Segasaturn Mode.
  • Badass Adorable: All the characters in the series not only adorable, but they can be a force to be reckoned with.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Ryetam in La Petite Princesse is normally very maternal and tolerant. Rub her the wrong way, though, and she goes psycho.
  • Berserk Button: The Nanja Monja have a very specific one: little girls in red dresses.
  • Big Bad: Mevious in the first game.
  • Big Eater: Memory. Her special attacks are various foods, her Mini-Boss is a giant cake, her win quotes are all about her being hungry, and the only thing she wants from Twinkle Star is a ton of food. She's thin as a rail, incidentally, but seemly it all goes to her breasts, especially in the sequel where they are huge!
  • Big Good: Queen Memory.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: At the end of Story Mode, Mevious brainwashes Memory and orders her to attack Sprites before withdrawing due to a back injury. Sprites then has to knock some sense back into her mother.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In story mode, Mevious will remark on how many continues you've used.
  • Character Development: Dark Ran in La Petite Princesse. She goes from holding a grudge against her good-natured counterpart in this game to not only looking after Mevious, but also using the Twinkle Star to heal his injuries.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: At the end of her Character Story, Dark Ran asks to have the game named after her. The Twinkle Star, without hesitation, changes it to Twinkle Star Dark Ran.
  • Charge Meter: Holding the shot button until the meter fills up to the highest current level allows you to fire a stronger shot. Destroying enemies without using charged shots increases your maximum level up to Level Three. At Level Two, you fire a charged shot and several special attacks. At Level Three, a Mini-Boss is also summoned to attack the other player.
  • Combos:
    • Explosion chains are both a great way to score points and stay on the offensive. It can backfire if both players have chains going on and yours ends first.
    • To elaborate, the most efficient combo/chaining method is to destroy a wave of enemies by killing as few enemies as possible in order to let the resulting explosion blow up the rest of the wave. A perfect combo is when only one enemy is killed to destroy the whole wave, and this results in getting a bonus in the combo meter, in addition to sending over the most possible fireballs.
    • This is made even more hectic in Fever mode, where both the number of fireballs and the speed at which they are fired are doubled. Really, this game breathes this trope.
  • Collision Damage: Running into an enemy will do less damage to you than taking an attack from your opponent, but your shot power and mobility is weakened temporarily. Collision damage also cannot defeat you.
  • Continuing is Painful: Using a continue after losing all of your lives will wipe your score.
  • Cosplay Otaku Girl:
    • Meirin from the Saturn version will dress up as a police officer, a ballerina, a Chinese waitress, or a dinosaur, among others.
    • Time in the sequel insta-changes into a pigbird cosplay and a nurse cosplay, among others.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The Sega Saturn port's Anime Theme Song is performed by Load Ran's seiyuu, Masami Kato.
  • The Dragon: Dark Ran to Mevious.
  • Dragon Rider: Really Till, the self-proclaimed rival of Load Ran. Really Ryez in the sequel, Really Till's younger sister, also fulfills this.
  • Embedded Precursor: The original arcade version of Twinkle Star Sprites can be unlocked in La Petite Princesse if you beat Character Mode with Load Ran, Really Till, and Mikoto. However, this requires unlocking them first through Story Mode, and Really Till's encounter is randomized in Stage 4.
  • Evil Sounds Deep:
    • Mevious, despite his looks, has a very deep and intimidating voice.
    • Dark Ran speaks in a slightly lower tone than Load Ran.
    • When Ryez is in her Kawaiiko mode, she sounds giggly and high-pitched. When she's full-on Yandere, her voice drops several octaves without warning.
  • Funny Background Event: During the winning player's victory quote, the losing player's character can be seen careening down from the sky.
  • Gratuitous English: Everything the announcer says. Can get rather silly when a battle heats up.
  • Grim Reaper: If the match passes 100 seconds or you don't shoot for 30 seconds, a Grim Reaper enemy appears and will kill any player it touches regardless of how much health they have. It can be destroyed and sent to the other player's side, but it will always come back and be harder to destroy than the last time until the match ends.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Really Till asks the Twinkle Star to make her a great singer. Her singing is so bad not even the Twinkle Star can help.
  • Hunter of Monsters: Vieru and Sherry from La Petite Princesse are monster hunters. They also seem to be wolfmen of some kind who ride electric guitars, making them possibly the coolest hunters ever.
  • Little Red Fighting Hood: Ran. Though the Nanja Monjas' aggression makes her fear becoming a Little Dead Riding Hood.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Kim/Do Sukebenote . Despite this, he somehow manages to get a wife and a significantly less perverted son.
  • MacGuffin: The Twinkle Star. Everyone goes after it either to make their own wish, or stop Load Ran from making hers.
  • Magical Girl: In Story Mode, Load Ran can transform into Sprites in order to fight Mevious and Memory. In Free Character Mode, Sprites asks the Twinkle Star to make it so Ran look like Sprites whenever she wants. The Twinkle Star draws a picture of Sprites and gives it to her.
  • Miko: The aptly-named Mikoto, the final boss in the sequel La Petite Princesse.
  • Mini-Boss: Summoned to fight your opponent with Level Three Charged Attack or if three or more flashing fireballs are caught in your chain explosion at the same time. Each character summons a different mini-boss.
  • Nintendo Hard: While competitive mode can be fair if both players are skilled, Story and especially Character Modes are brutal. The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard plays a major role in this, and 1cc-ing the game almost feels like a Luck-Based Mission. Memory is a rather nasty SNK Boss, and unlike future games of the genre, there is no way to exploit the AI or have them progressively weaken.
  • Odd Friendship: Ryetam and Meirin are absolute opposites in every way. Meirin is hot-blooded and rowdy, Ryetam is maternal and caring. Meirin is a Pettanko, Ryetam is significantly bustier. Meirin means nothing but good deep down, Ryetam has...a hidden psycho side.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Averted, unlike most shmups. Everyone has five HP (and two bombs, while more bombs can be picked up for a max of 3). Fireballs, special (extra) attacks, and boss attacks (or running into a boss) take away three HP. Running into a regular enemy takes one HP and stuns you (though you can't be killed this way, you'll be left with half an HP at the lowest). Furthermore, after running into an enemy, you can bounce into another enemy and take one more HP damage, but you won't get hit by another enemy again until you recover from the stun (however you can still get hit by your opponent's attack, and should that happen, it'll be game over). On the flip side, for every time your opponent runs into an enemy, your health is restored 1/2 HP, and if your opponent gets hit by one of your attacks, one whole HP is restored.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Changing from eight-year-old Ran to fourteen-year-old Sprites. But it's only temporary.
  • Pointless Band-Aid: In some of the defeated portraits. Schmitt has one on his pants, Mevious has one on his dress, and Memory has one on her hair.
  • Pretty Boy: Arthur Schmitt asks the Twinkle Star to make him the most handsome man in the world so he can impress Ran.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Kim asks the Twinkle Star to make him 3000 years younger. It grants his wish, but he looks exactly the same.
  • Rebellious Princess: Load Ran seems to be one. Tinker & Linker ask the Twinkle Star to bring her back home so they can make her do her homework.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: You really would never be able to guess Really Ryez and Really Till were sisters; the only trait they have in common is that they ride dragons and have multicolored hair.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Ryez pulls one out on Time after the latter provides a distraction for Arthur Schmitt to escape.
  • Smart Bomb: Each player can use a screen clearing bomb attack that can wipe out enemies and hurt mini-bosses.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Because La Petite Princesse was never officially localized nor got a fan translation, the names of the characters can be (and often are) spelled a whole truckload of different ways. The only consistency is that the protagonist's first name is "Time".
    • Is her surname Buttermitt, Buttermint, or Betterment?
    • Are the wolfboys named Vill and Shell, Viel Ah Ru and Ciel Ah Ru, or Vieru and Sherry?
    • Is Really Till's younger sister named Ryez, Ries, Reese, or Reez?
    • Are the catgirl nurses named Ryetam and Meirin, Rightan and Maylin, or Retam and Merry?
    • Did Load Ran's change her name to Load Run?
  • Split Personality: Really Ryez, who switches between Yandere and Kawaiiko at the drop of a hat. Her true side comes out whenever she gets pissed and/or when she enters battle/Fever. When she's like this, she'll be prone to using the pronouns "kisama" and "onore," both insulting and demeaning ways to address someone.
  • Stalked by the Bell: Let a match drag on for too long, the game will throw an Increasingly Lethal Enemy at you to ensure someone goes down. You can still shoot it down, but it'll come back even faster than before.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Do Edge from La Petite Princesse is the son of Do Sukebe (Kim in America) from the original, and aside from personality is almost exactly the same character.
  • The Power of Rock: Vill/Vieru and Shell/Sherry in La Petite Princess, two wolfmen riding electric guitars who attack with musical notes and power shred as their bomb.
  • Take Over the World: Mevious. In Free Character Mode, he wants tell Twinkle Star to make him the ruler of the world, but his back hurts too much so he asks to have it healed so he can try again later.
  • Villain Decay: A rare intentional example. In La Petite Princesse, after his defeat, Mevious works as a lowly miko with only his still-loyal Dark Ran keeping him company. He is not happy about it.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: The sequel goes from 2D sprite-based graphics to fully polygonal 3D visuals but the gameplay remains the same as its predecessor.
  • The Unintelligible: The Nanja Monjas, a group of hairballs with antennae that can only seem to repeat their own name.
  • Updated Re Release: The Saturn version has an animated intro, an extra character, some visual upgrades, full voice-acting, a few minor gameplay tweaks, and the ability to emulate the arcade and Neo Geo's slowdown or disable them altogether. The Dreamcast version, however, was a straight port of the Neo Geo version with better music and slowdown options like a the Saturn version, as well as the option to fix the scorebug from the arcade version.
  • Yandere: Really Ryez, Really Till's younger sister. Her exterior is sickeningly saccharine, even for this series, but what especially sets her apart from the other sugar-sweet characters is that she is a total yandere for Arthur Schmitt.
  • Years Too Early: Mevious' taunt quote to Sprites.