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Part puzzler and part 2D shooter, Twinkle Star Sprites is a port of SNK's 1996 arcade game of the same title. Unlike conventional shoot-'em-ups, Twinkle Star Sprites pits two players against one another in split-screen competition, with the objective being to outlast your rival. In this vertically scrolling shooter, each player possesses five hearts representing the sum total of their vitality. Contact with enemy units results in the loss of a single heart and when all are lost, the player is defeated. To prevent this, players are equipped with charge weapons and screen-clearing bombs. The latter can be acquired by exchanging Bomb Coins acquired during battle.
The primary gameplay mechanic centers on the player's ability to "send" enemy units to an opponent's screen, thereby inundating him with enemies, which will hopefully result in his demise. To do so, players will need to perform what's known as a Chain Explosion. When shot, enemy units change a variety of colors, from purple to red, with each subsequent color indicative of its deteriorating state. Shooting red enemies causes them to explode, which in turn destroys any surrounding enemies. The object is to cause chain reactions that will destroy as many enemies as possible, hence the term, Chain Explosion. Also, by destroying enemies it's possible to fill a power gauge, which on higher levels is capable of unleashing a powerful boss creature upon your hapless opponent.
Story and Character modes make up the single-player portion of the title, with the former taking players through a series of encounters and dialogue exchanges between the various characters. The Character Mode allows players to select a particular character before doing battle with a collection of other personas. The final gameplay option allows two human players to compete against one another. Also included is the ability to alter the speed of the game, allowing players to choose from varying degrees of slowdown, including none, minor, or copious slowdown. Additionally, players can opt for original arcade sound or updated music quality. A language option changes the in-game text to English, Japanese, or Spanish. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide