This is a twin-stick shooter where you blast intergalactic parasites and-Oh why do I even bother? Let's skip ahead to why I gave this game a thumbs-down.
Typically in an arcade game you can be awarded a 1up for passing certain scores. Let's say the first 1up is for 50,000 points, the second is at 200,000, and the rest are every 500,000 thereafter.
This doesn't apply to Pulstar. I got my first 1up at 2,137 points, the second at 13,854, and didn't receive anymore even after crossing 1,418,255 points.
In my next game, I got my first 1up at 22,478 points, the second at 24,890, and 1-2 every few seconds from about 4:01 to 4:30.
The following game? I got my first 1up at 486,977 points, and..didn't receive anymore lives for the rest of that attempt.
But guess what? It doesn't really matter. Getting a high-score in this game practically requires that you don't die, so all those extra lives are just trolling. Congrats! You bought yourself an extra second of survival. When you die you lose your kill-streak, and that's a massive multiplier that simply disappears into the ether. Screen-clearing bombs are several times more useful, but they rarely make an appearance. Power-ups stay on-screen indefinitely, so it's in your best interest to save those bombs for when they're really necessary (after the 4 minute mark).
Visually, this game is a mess. It's easy to lose track of things in most twin-stick shooters, let alone one with shifting brightness levels. There's a slowdown ability for when things get too hectic, but it messes with the screen really badly. Surrounding the playfield is a mess of clouds, they hide where enemies appear from. This is information I probably could use to avoid getting blind-sided for the 177th time.
Pulstar is supposed to appeal to the hardcore with its singular focus and extremely difficult achievements, but there's not enough there to justify giving it any serious time. Getting the best run feels more like something that will happen when the planets align, not when my skill reaches a certain level. On average I spend the first four minutes of every game preparing for everything going to hell at 4:01. Afterwards I stumble semi-blindly into a series of brick walls for a minute or two. This isn't fun, this is just me trying to prove that I'm actually putting in effort. I don't want to be that guy who doesn't like a game because he "doesn't get it". But man, this isn't worth the headache.