Space Harrier

Space Harrier (arcade)  1985

 

Emulation: mame

 

First shadow from player in 3D game, 2nd game to use 16-bit graphics and Sega's "Super Scaler" technology

 

Arcade system: Sega Space Harrier

Space Harrier
ORIGINAL POSTER

Gameplay video

Space Harrier
cabinet

Review - GameFAQs   - Space Harrier- A fun and colorful shooter (2015)
"Trippy environments, fast gameplay, and an urge to destroy everything in sight. Just a few of the many reasons why one would want to play Space Harrier; a fast pace shooter filled with bright colors, great sound, and a beautiful fantasy style environment.
Space Harrier is an Arcade game that was released in December of 1985 by Sega. It was one of the first games of its time to use 16-Bit graphics as well as include over 6000 colors. Space Harrier is a 3rd person rail shooter using pseudo 3D graphics, allowing for a strong sense of depth and distance. There weren't many games like Space Harrier during it's time, even in the arcades, mainly due to its superior graphics, sound, and gameplay. The game had a lasting effect on me that really made me want to both play it again and share it with my friends.
There is no true story presented in the game. At the very beginning, there is a voice of a man saying "Welcome to the fantasy zone!" and off you go. If I had to infer what the story was about, I would think that a man (who I guess can fly) is trying to protect his home world from foes such as spaceships, giant robots, stone faces, dragons, and many other enemies that you will face throughout the many stages of the game. Just like many other games of its time, the story/ plot is mainly up to the player, allowing your imagination to figure out the cause of why you're flying through random environments destroying basically everything you can in sight.
Graphically, I have to say, the game was superior to many others during its time. There are so many colors present and each of the eighteen stages that you play have there own unique feel and personality to them. Many of the levels have certain psychedelic attributes to them, such as random mushrooms on the ground, and like the picture to the right, one-eyed mammoths, which to me, makes me believe the developers were on all sorts of drugs when they made the game, only making Space Harrier that much more awesome!
There is only one song and one voice present in the game, although this isn't a bad thing. The music is pretty catchy that doesn't get annoying and the voice at the beginning puts you in the mood to start flying around and shooting whatever you can. Though the sound is pretty much unchanging, it does fit the atmosphere Space Harrier was trying to go with.
There are eighteen stages in Space Harrier, each different from the next, but always with the same premise, fly or run through the screen, shooting the many different enemies you will face. Each stage is about two- five minutes long and at the end, you will always fight a boss of some sort. There is a score system on top that will always go up. You have five lives to get through the game, with the chance of gaining bonus lives, but don't fret, since you aren't sent back to the beginning of the game if you lose all your lives. Instead, you just pick back up where you left off, which is an awesome addition to the game. You have the choice of choosing the difficulty you want, however, it doesn't seem like it makes much of a difference. As you progress, tougher and more frequent enemies will start coming after you. There are two bonus levels that you will come across where you jump on the back of your dragon friend and fly through the previously unbreakable obstacles in your way, getting bonus points for every thing you get. At the end of the stage, you jump off and you're back to the normal gameplay. On the last stage, you will face many of the bosses that you previously defeated back to back, ultimately, beating the game.The controls are easy to use, consisting of moving the character and pressing the one button you need to shoot your laser. All the controls are very tight and responsive; you won't have many problems as you fly through the game.
Space Harrier really isn't that difficult when playing in today's time, especially on a ported home console. As I said before, there are different difficulty settings you can put, yet I haven't seen a noticeable difference between them. When you lose your lives, you simply start back where you left off, however, back when the game first came out in the arcades, once you lost your lives, you had to add more coins in the machine, giving the game more difficulty. You won't get to frustrated with the game, but that doesn't mean its not challenging. It's easy to get through to the end, but I feel like that's what really makes it fun. It shouldn't take you more than 45 minutes to beat the entire game, but you'll have fun doing it.
The game is single player, but seeing as you will die often, you can easily pass the controller onto someone else when done so, making it a now multi-player game. The replayablity of the game is rather high as well, seeing as you can play it over and over again, either for the sheer enjoyment of playing the game, or trying to beat your old high score. There was only one glitch that I found in Space Harrier, which happened whenever I faced a boss. I realized that the game will lag for a few seconds when you are introduced to the new boss, but this can be easily forgiven, since it doesn't effect gameplay in the slightest.
Overall, Space Harrier is a really fun game to play. It's very bright and colorful with a fun concept. During its time, there weren't many other games like it. With a new concept, easy controls, and a fun environment, it's no wonder why this game is still a fan favorite, even in today's time."

Trivia:
!) It was influenced by the earlier 1982 Sega game Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom, and Space Harrier in turn influenced later 3D shooters such as Nintendo's Star Fox/Starwing in 1993.
2) Running on the Sega Space Harrier arcade system board previously used by Hang-On.
3) The sprite/tile scaling in the game was handled in a similar manner to textures in later texture-mapped polygonal 3D games of the 1990s.
4) The game was also proto-third-person shooter (first real third-person shooter was Xybots (1987).
5) Space Harrier originally mentioned that it took place in the Fantasy Zone just as the game of the same name, (remember the "Welcome to the Fantasy Zone! Get Ready!" intro?) and many have claimed that the games take place in the same universe considering the similarity in graphic design. While SEGA never made any official statement they did try to capitalize on the similarities with Space Fantasy Zone. An unreleased Fantasy Zone sequel for the PC Engine CD was developed that used the pseudo 3D gameplay of the Space Harrier series but used Opa-Opa and his gang of cute characters and levels. It is unsure why the game never got released, but several beta copies have been leaked and you can easily find them around the net and run them with an emulator.

6) Harrier was name of the  military jet from  1967,(harrier is a nickname or occupational name for someone who hunted hares, or who was thought to resemble a breed of dog used in hunting hares. nickname for someone thought to resemble a harrier, a kind of hawk).
7) Processor 32 mhz.

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