Tuesday 1 January 2019

Space Harrier (Sega 32X review)

Developer: Rutubo Games
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1994

Space Harrier is a third-person rail-shooter that was first released in the Arcades in 1985.

Playing as a Sentinel named Harri, your mission is to reclaim Dragonland from the demon Valda. There's 18 stages and while using a jet-pack to fly around the auto-scrolling playfield you can shoot enemies with your laser. Gameplay wise, the sprite scaling is terrific and although this port only runs at 30 frames per second (compared to 60 in the Arcades) the animation is smooth. The sense of speed is incredible and at times it's almost too fast as bullets, enemies and scenery litter most of the playfield! What's most difficult is judging spatial distance when enemies and bullets scale towards the front of the screen; pattern recognition and learning A.I. placement is key to succeeding and as long as you're a patient gamer you'll find lots to love about Space Harrier. There's a huge range of unique enemies and memorable stages (especially the ones featuring vertically narrow corridors) and I love that each level ends in a cool boss battle. The Bonus Stages where you ride a creature and bash obstacles for points is also a welcome addition to mix things up. However, while you can lower the difficulty and increase your life count from 3 to 5 in the Options menu, the action is still extremely challenging; unless you're well-versed in the game's patterns and enemy placement you will see the Game Over screen within minutes and it can be disheartening replaying the same early stages in order to advance just a few seconds past your previous best. One saving grace is the hidden Arcade Mode that can be unlocked via a button combination (see below) that affords you three continues.

If you're a fan of tough-as-nails Arcade shooters, Space Harrier is easy to recommend and this Sega 32X port is impressive thanks to its fast-paced action and awesome sprite scaling. For casual gamers, it's likely more of an acquired taste and the lack of continues in this home conversion could be a detriment to its playability.

Random trivia: The game contains both an Arcade Mode and a Diagnostic Mode by entering certain button combinations.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Find a Review