European arcade flyer
|Cabinet||Standard and sit-down|
|Arcade system||Sega Space Harrier Hardware|
|CPU||2x 68000 (@ 10 MHz)
Sound CPU: Z80 (@ 4 MHz)
|Sound||YM2203 (@ 4 MHz)
Sega PCM (@ 31.25 kHz)
|Display||Raster, standard resolution,
horizontal orientation, 32,000 colors
Space Harrier (スペースハリアー Supēsu Hariā?) is a third-person rail shooter game, released by Sega in 1985. It was produced by Yu Suzuki, responsible for many popular Sega games. It spawned several sequels: Space Harrier 3-D (1988), Space Harrier II (1988), and the spin-off Planet Harriers (2000).
Space Harrier was originally made for the arcades, and later saw ports to many home game systems. Space Harrier's release on the Sega Master System is notable, as there were two versions: one was just like the arcade, while the other, entitled Space Harrier 3-D was actually a sequel.
It was one of the first arcade games to use 16-bit graphics and Sega's "Super Scaler" technology that allowed pseudo-3D sprite-scaling at high frame rates, with the ability to scale as many as 32,000 sprites and fill a moving landscape with them, along with over 32,000 colours displayed simultaneously on the screen. It also introduced a true analog flight stick for movement, with the ability to register movement in any direction as well as measure the degree of push, which could move the player character at different speeds depending on how far the stick is pushed in a certain direction. The game was also an early example of a third-person shooter; 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 in 1993.
Space Harrier is set in the "Fantasy Zone", a surreal world composed of bright colors and a checkerboard-styled ground. The enemies are also unique, featuring prehistoric animals, Chinese dragons, and alien pods. The player is forced along the levels, running or flying around enemy fire, while shooting back with fireballs via the character's under-arm cannon (which doubles as a rocket-esque device allowing the character to fly). The character graphics are sprite-based, though the level backgrounds are pseudo-3D.
The arcade version of Space Harrier used digitized voices. When starting the first level, for example, the player would be greeted with "Welcome to the fantasy zone; Get ready". After defeating a boss, the player was assured that "You're doing great".
Like After Burner, Space Harrier was among the first (perhaps the very first) arcade game to feature a console in which the player sits, and which moves according to the joystick movement. There is also a non-moving sit-down version and a standard upright version.
The arcade version has a total of 18 levels, each containing a boss at the end. Three exceptions are the bonus levels (5th and 12th), and the 18th level, which is a boss rush containing some of the bosses encountered up to that point.
Computer Gaming World in 1988 called Space Harrier "the best arcade shoot-'em-up of the year ... as exciting a game as this reviewer has ever played". The game was runner-up in the category of Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards.
The game was translated to various home computer systems and consoles. Among the home versions, the ports for the Sega 32X, the Sega Saturn and the Sharp X68000 (the latter being a Japan-only) are considered to be the most faithful to the original arcade version. The game is also playable on the Dreamcast (within Shenmue, Shenmue II and Yu Suzuki Game Works Vol. 1) and Xbox (within Shenmue II). It is included in Sega Arcade Gallery for the Game Boy Advance and the enhanced Japanese Sega Ages vol.4 PS2 remake is included in the Eur/NA Sega Classics Collection (a compilation DVD including other games from the same era that were remade for modern audiences) for the PlayStation 2.
Space Harrier II for the Mega Drive was released for Nintendo's Virtual Console on December 18, 2006 while the first Space Harrier for the Sega Master System was released in Europe on October 17, 2008 and in North America on November 3, 2008. The arcade version was released on the Virtual Console in Japan on March 26, 2009, in the PAL regions on May 29, 2009 and in North America on June 15, 2009.
The arcade version of Space Harrier is available as an unlockable game in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. While the port's emulation is accurate to the arcade original, there are off-pitch voices and music in the port's sound emulation.
The main theme of the game is remixed for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and used as the soundtrack for the course Race of AGES, a track that is a representative of Sega as a whole. The game also features Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue as a playable character, driving a Space Harrier sit-down arcade cabinet during air-based portions of a race.
- Space Harrier Complete Collection. This collection offers the arcade version of Space Harrier, Space Harrier II, the Sega Master System version of Space Harrier and Space Harrier 3D. Also included as an Easter egg was the Game Gear version of the game. It was released for the PlayStation 2 as the 20th volume of Sega Ages.
- Space Harrier – Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear, Sega 32X, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, various other non-Sega systems
- Space Harrier 3-D – Sega Master System
- Space Harrier II – Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Virtual Console
- Space Harrier Sega Ages Edition – PlayStation 2
- Space Fantasy Zone (Fantasy Zone/Space Harrier spin-off) – PC-Engine
- Planet Harriers – Arcade
- Sega Ages 2500 Vol. 20: Space Harrier Complete Collection – PlayStation 2
- "Sega Space Harrier Hardware". System16.com. Retrieved August 5, 2006.
- IGN Presents the History of SEGA: World War, IGN
- Bernard Perron & Mark J. P. Wolf (2008), Video game theory reader two, p. 157, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-415-96282-X
- Space Harrier Retrospective (Page 2), IGN
- Top 10 Sega Franchises That Deserve Platinum Treatment, GameZone
- Star Fox at Allgame
- Worley, Joyce; Katz, Arnie; Kunkel, Bill (September 1988). "Video Gaming World". Computer Gaming World. p. 50.
- "Two WiiWare Games and One Virtual Console Game Added to Wii Shop Channel". Nintendo of America. 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
- "Mario Calculates the Time Needed to Catch Toasted Rainbows in Space". Nintendo of America. 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- Space Harrier at the Killer List of Videogames
- Space Harrier page at arcade-history
- Arcade hardware
- Sega-16's retrospective on the series
- Space Harrier at MobyGames
- Space Harrier at World of Spectrum
- The Space Harrier Absymbel – dead fan site viewable through archive.org
- IGN Space Harrier Retrospective
- The Space Harrier Page