Review by JPeeples
Reviewed: 10/01/01 | Updated: 10/01/01
A blast from the past that will etch it's images into your brain.
Space Harrier was released for the Japanese Sega Saturn in 1996 as a part of Sega’s “Sega Ages” program. This program saw the re-release of three of Sega’s most successful arcade hits: OutRun, After Burner II, and Space Harrier. The games were released at a reduced price in comparison to new import Saturn games. SH was originally a 1986 arcade release. SH was recently revived as one of the hidden games in the Sega Dreamcast game, Shenmue.
SH puts you in the role of Harrier, a young man who flies through space in an attempt to vanquish evil. The gameplay in SH sends you careening through space at lighting speeds in a 3D world the likes of which had never been seen before. You speed through space shooting any and all evil creatures that stand in your way. The gameplay is as fast-paced as I’ve ever seen, so be on the lookout at all times. You’ll need an itchy trigger finger and lightning-fast reflexes if want to have even a fleeting chance at surviving, let along attaining victory in this game. The quick nature of the gameplay helps to keep you glued to your seat, the gameplay is, in a word, addictive. Now I know the idea of shooting through levels upon levels of opponents may seem a bit redundant, but believe you me, once you play the game, you’ll be hooked. The game will engulf you into its world. After a minutes of playing this game, you will become Harrier, you will be the one fighting for your life, and you will be the one bobbing and weaving your way out of the path of your enemies’ attacks.
SH has some of the simplest controls you’ll ever find. You only need to use the D-pad and one button in order to fully control Harrier. This might make you think that the control is limiting, but have no fear, because the control is actually quite deep. There’s quite a bit of strategy involved with the controls in SH. You can go into a level, and just shoot enemies, or you can pick and choose who and what to shoot. You can also mix these strategies around a bit. For example, you can shoot like a nut during certain battles, then take a more defensive route for some other battles. No matter which strategy you choose to use, it will be a snap to execute as a result of the game’s extremely responsive controls that never skip a beat.. It’s really surprising what you can do with the controls in the game. SH is one of the few games that makes the most out of what it has.
The graphics in SH stand the test of time very well. The 3D effect used in the game, is truly a marvel to behold. The amount of depth in this effect is staggering, as it actually holds up pretty well to the 3D effects seen in many of today’s games. No matter what’s happening on-screen, the game’s ultra-tight engine is there to keep things manageable. Enemies will swarm the screen and the game will never slow down, given the game’s mad-dash gameplay, this is really surprising. The character designs are extremely original and they fit their settings perfectly. For example, the first level takes place over a grassy area that is seemingly ripped from a fairly tale, the same can be said for the enemies that inhabit the levels, dragons, and other fantasy-esque creatures litter this level. The second level takes place over an Egyptian desert populated by stone statues and stone heads that attack you with fire. It is this kind of character design that adds a lot to the game, the attention to detail is fantastic. Each and every character in the game has a crisp look to them that really helps give the game a look all its own. These crisp characters, combined with the lightning-fast gameplay, gives you tons of memories that will stay etched in your brain for years to come.
SH has some of the most fitting sound of any game. The music in SH is fast-paced, just like the gameplay, and gets you into the mood to play this game. The tunes throughout the game feature a quick tempo that puts you into the perfect mindset to play this game . The music is also stage-specific, for example, the music in the first level has a fanstasy-esque tone to it that fits the fairy tale-ish setting. Also, the second level features rather subdued music that really fits the desert setting perfectly. The sound effects in this game are fantastic. While they aren’t as plentiful as the tunes in the game, they do fit their actions perfectly, so it does balance out nicely.
SH features four difficulty levels: extra easy, easy, medium, and hard. Extra easy is perfect for gamers who have never played SH before, or for those who are just trying to get their timing back. Easy is a nice, steady, step-up from from the previous difficulty level. Each of the following difficulty levels are nice, progressive steps-up that don’t cram too much at you at once, well, that is, until you get farther into the game.
Overall, Space Harrier is an amazing title that makes for a fine addition to any gamer’s game collection. The gameplay is fast and frenetic. The control is about as perfect as one could expect. The graphics are mind-blowing, believe me, images from this game will stay burned into your memory for years; and to top it all off, the game’s music does a great job at complementing the fast-paced nature of the game, it really gets you into the mood to play this game.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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