Twinkle Star Sprites (ティンクルスタースプライツ Tinkuru Sutaa Supuraitsu ) is a competitive scrolling shooter created by ADK in 1996. It was initially released as an arcade game for the Neo Geo platform. It was later ported to several systems, including Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2. It is also currently available on the subscription service GameTap. The gameplay, which can be characterized as a combination of a fixed shooter and a versus puzzle game, uses combinations of shots, as well as timed powerups to attempt to damage the opponent. These attacks also serve as counters to the opponent's attack.
There are two types of standard attacks: a normal shot and a charge-up shot. Each character starts with two bombs which enables him in the event of desperate plight, to clean with the screen while briefly acquiring a state of invincibility. The two players' playfields are separated by a vertical bar, each one having its own independent of the other. Series of enemies arrive from the top of the screen. The player is to successfully destroy them in chains (combos), which will send one or more fireball projectiles to the screen of his adversary (Normal Attack). Shooting at Normal Attacks several times reflects them back as glowing Reverse Attacks. If Reverse Attacks are reflected again, a number of powerful counterattacks in the shape of one or more indestructible enemies appear (Extra Attack). Reflecting many Reverse Attacks at once can instead summon a boss (Boss Attack).
- The Extra Attacks and the Boss Attack vary from one character to another.
- The power gauge fills as the player destroys enemies up to three levels. By holding down the fire button and releasing when a certain level is reached, the player can launch a character-specific charge shot to assist the player in clearing enemies from his screen. At Level 1, the charge shot is launched. At Level 2, the charge shot and three Extra Attacks against the opponent are launched. At Level 3 (Max Level), the charge shot and a Boss Attack are launched. Firing charge shots at Level 2 and above will decrease the power gauge.
- 30–40 seconds into a round, a blue orb appears among a chain of enemies. If this orb is destroyed in a chain, the player achieves Fever status for the next several seconds. Chains created during Fever generate faster and more plentiful Normal Attacks per enemy destroyed, which can prove to be very dangerous to the opponent if large chains are made.
- Both players are given five life points at the start of a round.
- Colliding into an enemy costs 1 life point, but the player cannot be killed this way; if a player has one life point left, he will be left with one half of a life point. When this happens, his character is stunned for a short while and is reduced in speed and attack power for several seconds after recovery, all the while left more vulnerable to opponent attacks.
- Getting hit by a Normal Attack, Reverse Attack, Extra Attack or the projectiles from a Boss cost 3 life points.
- The match is over when a player loses all his life points.
- When a player takes damage, his opponent recovers life points equal to half of the damage taken.
- If a round lasts longer than 100 seconds or the player does not fire a shot for more than 30 seconds, a Death enemy appears. If a player is hit by this enemy, he will lose immediately (Death Attack). The Death can be destroyed as any other enemy, but always comes back, harder to kill. Additionally, if a player is successful in volleying the "death" character over to his opponent's side, and the death character touches the opponent, the opponent dies instantly. This is a possible, though difficult, way to win. This, of course, would require the player to be skilled enough to avoid obstacles and not fire for more than 30 seconds.
At E3 2005, Twinkle Star Sprites: La Petite Princesse (for the PS2) was shown at the SNK Booth and there was a possibility that it would be released in the US, but after some consideration, at E3 2006, Ben Herman (pres. of SNKPlaymoreUSA) stated that the game will not be ported in the US. The decision was that it will not be marketable for the U.S. audience.
- The game's concept seems to be a parody of the Sailor Moon manga, however the game's comic relief 'Rabbicat' seems to be a parody of Tenchi Muyo's mascot, 'Ryo-Oh-Ki' the cabbit.
- Load Ran, Dark Ran, and Sprites all feature distinct endings in Free Character Mode. These endings differ to those seen in the Story Mode.
- In the story mode, Mevious will either taunt or praise, depending on whether continues have been used.
- The game is the inspiration for some doujin shooting games, especially the 3rd Touhou game created by ZUN titled Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream in 1997 and the 9th Touhou game named Phantasmagoria of Flower View in 2005. The game is also the inspiration for the second Seihou game titled Kioh Gyoku in 2001.