Sega made some pretty fantastic arcade games back in the day, in fact some took the limited technology and made some timeless classics, one of them happens to be Space Harrier (スペースハリアー Supēsu Hariā), developed by Sega AM2 and published by Sega in 1985.
Some dragons live in the Fantasy Zone (but there was already a game called Fantasy Zone, ah well, review of that coming soon), but trouble abrew and you are Space Harrier and you got to stop it. You play as Space Harrier, you just simply shoot, shoot, shoot, and you blow things up and that’s the gameplay, but with this simplicity comes the thrilling speed you go, no framerate issues, no slowdown, you continuously go on shooting, dodge bullets and shoot bushes and trees?
Did you know? It spawned several sequels: Space Harrier 3-D (1988), Space Harrier II (1988), and the spin-off Planet Harriers (2000).
The controls are simple and fun to use, I’m playing this on the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection on the PlayStation 3, I’m playing this with the analog stick and it plays very well, it’s that pick up and play factor that shines. The graphics have held up very well, from the floor to the sky, the vertical rush of speed, bushes and trees, but half of the enemies move weirdly and even look weird; a dragon that looks like it hasn’t been connected properly.
The music fits the fast-paced speed of the game and can be creepy when battling some bosses. The game is very challenging, another arcade game solely made to eat away your coins.
Did you know? The game was also an early example of a third-person shooter, it took inspirations from 1982 Sega game Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom and Space Harrier inspired Nintendo for their 3D shooter game Star Fox in 1993.
Overall, it’s fast, it’s frantic, it keeps you alert of everything, it even has two-player mode to battle with each other. What else can I say, it’s Space Harrier.
Wait, I’ll talk about the Master System version, of course, this isn’t going to be as graphically superior as the original but that’s not the console’s fault, nevertheless, it’s does justice, it plays like the original, but framerate isn’t going to be fast-paced as the original, the controls are average, it plays well despite my hating of the controller, my issues are the sprites, some sprites are sometimes in boxes, so at times you can see the boxes around them like a green sprite in a blue box on green grass, it’s messy and looks unfinished. Overall, it’s does a good job of making an 8-bit version of the game and I recommend it if you don’t have an arcade version to play.
You can get on the Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Game Boy Advance, Game Gear, Family Computer, PC-6001, PC-6601, PC-8801, PlayStation 2, Super/Sega 32X, Sega Mark III, Master System, Sega Saturn, PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16, Virtual Console, Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo e-shop) and ZX Spectrum.
Rating (Arcade): 4.5/5
Rating (Master System): 3/5