#125 Space Harrier

Posted: 2nd July 2012 by Mulholland in Games
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159th played so far

Genre: Shoot ’em Up
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega

15% of games on this list are shoot ’em ups. Since this is not a genre either of us usually think of when it comes to picking games we are probably going to splurge on these every now and then… sorry about that.

Our Thoughts

Although this was orginally released in 1985 in the arcades of Japan my first experience of this game was worlds away. I was about seven and my ‘cousins’ were in possession of a Sega Saturn (just note that the inverted commas is because they weren’t cousins but friends of family on my father’s side). I hated going around there because I was a complete townie and they lived on a farm and collected Border Fine Arts. The one saving grace (apart from Jennifer who really took pity on me) was this Sega Saturn.

I was transfixed with this console and I always went straight for this room when I was forced to go there since I didn’t particularly want to see where they hung the cattle they had just slaughtered for meat (that image still haunts me). So on this console is where I played games like Virtua Fighter 2, some of the Sonic games, a few I can not remember and then there is Space Harrier.

I guess this long pre-amble does not really mean much in terms of how good the game is but the moment I started playing it all these memories really came back to me. Just like songs and smells I guess video games can hold a lot of memories and I remembered this game being utterly brutal… and it still is.

Just like games such as DoDonPachi  and Mad Planets this is a manic shooter but unusually this is done from a third-person perspective. Your control is a joystick and it is your mission to shoot your way through 18 levels (containing many a pallete-swap) before blitzing your way through the ends boss run towards victory.

It’s perfect for the arcade because it is so incredibly lethal. You would be hard pressed to make it to the end without spending enough money for a decent bottle of cologne and in many ways it feels like the game is really out to get you. Unlike many games of this era it is painfully clear that these crazy enemies are gunning for you. Whether they be floating Easter Island heads or skeletal dragons you are pretty much screwed.

The graphics are pretty damned decent for a 1985 game but for me the best touch is one of the ice levels populated by cyclops-mammoths. Basically when shot by your enemies they disitegrate into a pile of mammoth bones… strangely cool. Then again so is the game.

Considering the age of the game, the graphics are quite good, and part of that has to do with its background. Unlike most shooters, especially in the days when the game was created, the graphics are vaguely 3D – not as we know it now, but it plays with depth and scaling to give the impression of enemies and the environment coming towards you or moving away. It feels speedier and puts you inside the action, making for more fun gameplay. It also looks impressive, even now in a cartoony way.

Final Thoughts

Tough, true, this game was doing its best to eat your change while you played. It’s not overly long, but long enough to keep you going for quite a while.

The game’s currently available on the Wii Virtual Console, so if you want to play it, go there now to give it a go. Assuming you don’t mind a bit of weirdness in your life.