Space Harrier


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 7

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 6


Space Harrier had a goal when it was released into arcades in 1985: Amaze. It did that better than most of the games sitting next to it on the arcade floor. Wild sprites flying across the screen, countless colors, and fast paced gameplay made the game a classic. It also worked on the Master System when it was ported. That leaves the question as to why Sega found it necessary to release a nearly 10-year old arcade game onto their new console as a stand-alone product.

It's not that this is a bad translation. It's just the opposite: perfection. There's nothing here that's been changed. Much like Afterburner, there's no purpose to a 32X release like this. Maybe if this were included as a package deal with their other arcade hit, it would almost make sense. They didn't.

As it stands, Space Harrier is still enjoyable, even if it doesn't even try to use the new, upgraded hardware. It suffers from the same problems it's 32X brother does. It's impossible to see what actually kills you most of the time. Why the development team didn't make the character transparent or a wire frame model doesn't make much sense. It's better here than in Afterburner as Harrier doesn't have anywhere near the amount of onscreen mayhem. Still, you're going to die cheaply, and have no idea why.

The fast pace has been retained, as stated above, perfectly. Most of the sprites scale in without hardware tricks, but hand drawn animation. It cuts down on the oversized pixels, yet the choppiness can make it harder to determine depth. The checkerboard ground (and occasionally ceiling as well) sells the effect. Enemies are huge, especially as they make their advance. It's a fantastic sense of scale and really makes you feel like the underdog.

The music of Space Harrier is legendary, and rightfully so. If you've been a gamer for any amount of time, you've heard the main theme, hummed it at work, and stuck in your head where you couldn't get it out. All the voice samples are here, slightly grainy, which is either an attempt at accuracy or a sad sign that the sound chip in the 32X was useless.

Space Harrier is a classic, and there's little doubt as to whether it deserves that status. If you're going to play it, you can seek out some of the compilations that carry it (Sega Ages on the Saturn), find the arcade cabinet, or stick with this version. Any of them are fine, though you might as well try to get something extra on the Saturn.


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Last updated: Friday, July 01, 2005 12:51 PM