Genre: Shmup Developer: Sega Enterprises Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1 Released: 1989
When the Genesis launched back in ’89, nothing pleased us more than to get a sequel to Space Harrier. As one of the first titles out, it was great to have at what seem at the time to be a extremely fluid game. The scaling effects of the background to foreground were leaps and bounds for us who enjoyed the original back on the Sega Master System. So as far as Space Harrier is concerned, it’s a solid game.
The year is 6326. Space is your battlefield and destructive forces your enemy once again as Space Harrier II. Only this time, the call for help comes from somewhere deep in the universe, the 214th sector, which is light-years from your cruiser. However, you’re armed with the “Cosmic gate,” a special teleportation device, so you’re there in moments. And what you see is disastrous.
Fantasyland is unrecognizable. What’s clear are enemy forces, lots of them coming at you from everywhere. And there’s only you and your laser. This is going to be a tough assignment at which to succeed whether your rapid fire is on or off. So follow the path to victory by staying out of the line of fire and shooting straight. It’s a long and ugly road and the only ones who survive have the makings of a hero.
That was the story as it was printed in the manual. Pretty far in the future eh? There seems to be a little bit of a dialogue error for the second sentence too (Nice grasp of Engrish). Well, whatever the story is, it doesn’t matter too much for this game. It’s basic, but it’ll do. At least the game’s story is chronological in conjunction with the other harrier games.
Space Harrier plays like a 2nd person perspective “behind the man” view forward-scrolling shooter. The game is fast paced and gives the usual run of the mill enemies that have been typical over the harrier saga. The enemies are very fantasy or dreamlike, usually spit bullets, fire, circle O’s and other fun stuff at you, while trying to avoid running or flying into pillars or other similar structures throughout the levels. The character can be moved off the ground and all around the screen, giving more “depth from the ground effects” as you move the character up towards the screen. Armed with only one weapon, you can do one of three things: Shoot, shoot, or shoot very fast.
There are a total of twelve levels to go through, which the player can start at any level to begin, each ending with a boss to fight that must be destroyed by hitting a certain area while avoiding the patterns of attack by them. Once a boss is defeated, it’s on to the next level. Every four level that are completed though, a bonus round will begin (like the original harrier), but this time you ride a hover pad instead of a white dragon that zips you off to a very fast-paced bonus level. The objective on the bonus levels is to shoot as many enemies and ground targets as possible to up your score. This is a goal to achieve because extra points on the score mean extra men that are awarded later as one plays. Once the bonus is done, it’s off to complete the next level.
After all twelve levels have been finished, the player must, once again, fight all twelve of the level’s bosses in a row. Only once this is done will you fight the final boss: The Dark Harrier.
The game is simple and a blast to play. Although not too hard by many shooter standards, the game is long enough to enjoy what it offers. Its not hard to control, and it’s basically the “shoot everything that moves” law that applies here.
Not a brilliant spectacle as the other games on the system go (especially the later ones). The graphics are simple, not overdone and do the job okay. There are a few instances where a boss or enemy looks particularly cool or creative due to the design or detail of the figure.
The smoothness of how the ground moves, including the couple of stages that have the ceilings too, are animated well, look good, and are cool to watch. Overall though, the graphics do very well for the game.
The themes made for this game are consistent with the sounds of what we have been used to calling Space Harrier and have proven true in this sequel also. The music is enjoyable, with the main theme being long before it begins repeating. Boss music is pretty good and each boss has a different theme. As for the sound department, it gives a solid dose of enjoyment too. Although there are not many sound effects used in the entire game, the sound has been used correctly as far as a Space Harrier title and theme should be concerned. Hats off.
As for Space Harrier‘s difficulty, it’s not terribly difficult. A lot of enemies and structures can be simply avoided and not shot, but that’s what you have to do sometimes if the situation gets hectic enough. Veteran gamers are urged to increases the difficulty in the options menu.
As far as the options for the game are considered, there is, luckily, a sound test to listen to all the music from the game (which does have some good themes). Next, the difficulty can be adjusted to easy, normal (default), or hard. A rapid fire feature can be toggle on or off (default). Lastly, the direction of how the harrier flies can be switch from normal or reverse, for those of you who like flying more like a plane (down is up with reverse.)
Space Harrier II is an enjoyable game. It’s long enough to consider a purchase and should be added to anybody’s stack of games at home who like shooters, especially the Space Harrier series. The music is great, the challenge is decent, and the experience is fun. Playing this version is probably the closest thing next to playing the original version in the arcades. Pick this up, it’s fun.
Originally printed at Starbase299.
SCORE: 7 out of 10