Space Harrier

Copyright: © 1986 Sega Entertainment Inc
Genre: Arcade action

Arcade action

Space Harrier
SEGA's arcade 3D shooter brought to the IBM-PC. The arcade game was
fantastic for its time (1985) and mainly lived from its great graphics
and sounds. Most conversions were unable to capture anything from it, and
Space Harrier is no exception, although unique gameplay still makes it
better than many games of that period. Space Harrier is a shooter where
you, as Space Harrier, must fly through the Land of Dragons to defeat the
evil beings who would dare put the dragons in peril. You do this by
flying straight at them with a big cannon, and what a cannon it is. Not
only does it have unlimited ammo, but it appears to have a “happy face”
on the back (two dots for eyes and a curved area for a smile). Was this
smile a happy nod to the game’s beautiful graphics, explosions, and
intense action? Before the days of first-person shooters where you could
sneak up on your opponents, Space Harrier let you take control of a guy
running and flying directly into other foes who used the same tactic,
leading to some frenzied clashes and more than a few mid-air collisions.
Although the checkered backgrounds make the world look more like a
surreal painting than an alien planet, the fact that they constantly
scroll straight at the player gives a sense of speed, which is often good
as a warning when navigating dangerous areas with indestructible
buildings. The double-checker levels like Ceiceil are especially
gratifying when the ceiling drops down, checkers flash different colors
on both floors, the scroll rate speeds up, and enemy Binzbeans fill the
screen. Extra details like different poses when at different parts of the
screen, explosive chain reactions when defeating the largest bosses, and
stumbling over the low weeds in the first levels made the game something
to behold. Then of course there were the levels where the local dragon
Euria decided to thank Space Harrier for lending a hand. So how can this
creature help a flying bazooka-man who has everything? Give him a ride,
of course. By jumping atop the big fuzzy dragon in two bonus stages, you
have the chance to demolish a variety of objects, some of them otherwise
indestructible in the game. If you and Euria destroy enough, Harrier can
get an extra life. Complement the great visuals with anime-inspired
robots and jets that look straight out of Macross and Robotech, giant
skeletons, upbeat music, crisp sound and perfect shooting control, and
you’ll know this is nothing short of a gaming classic. It may not match
the arcade original in terms of graphics and sounds, but original
concepts and dragon-riding levels are enough to merit a Top Dog status.

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