Space Harrier (SMS)

Space Harrier Box Art

Space Harrier

System: SMS

Release Date: March 1987

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up

Okay, it’s time for Space Harrier on Sega Master System. I feel like I should like this game, but I don’t. If you’ve never played Space Harrier, it’s like a side scrolling shoot ‘em up like Gradius, but it’s a behind the back third person view. I wanted it to be really good, but I can’t say that it is.

The boss of stage two.

You are Space Harrier and must save the Land of Dragons from extinction. There are 18 stages that you fly through. Enemies fly at set patterns and shoot at you are try to run you through. You also have to avoid obstacles that are indestructible. You control Space Harrier in all eight directions with the d-pad. This means flying and strafing to the extreme. If you stand still, you’ll die, trust me. You shoot with both the 1 button and the 2 button. My initial strategy was to spam both buttons to try and shoot really fast. Unfortunately, you can only have a few bullets on screen at once.

Trying to kill the flying enemies and avoid the mushrooms.

I started to realize by stage 7 or 8 that trying to tap both shooting buttons wasn’t doing me any good. I decided to calm down and try to be more deliberate with my shots. I didn’t do any better. I used the rewind and load state function liberally. I don’t think I would have ever been able to get through the game without it. There are two bonus stages where you jump on the back of Falcor… errr… I mean the brave dragon, Euria. You’re indestructible on the back of Euria and are supposed to run into obstacles on the ground. Each object you destroy adds bonuses to your score.

Dodging lots of shots from the enemies.

My biggest gripe with this game is how you can’t see what’s coming. When levels start bringing in a ton of ground obstacles, you won’t be able to see them when enemies are on screen, and vice versa. There were plenty of times I was shooting enemies and then BAM! I’m dead because of an obstacle I had no chance of avoiding.

The true final boss. He suuuuuucks to fight.

The bosses are huge and take 16 hits. They were slightly easier than the level, in general. Once you get to Stage 18, you go through a boss rush of sorts. This was fine, until you reach the true final boss Haya Oh. This guy was straight up cheese. It was two flying fire dragons that glowed like embers. They would shoot glowing embers, as well, which you couldn’t see coming, so couldn’t avoid. That’s a huge mess of garbage and makes me unhappy.

Graphics: 2.0

The graphics are good. It’s just difficult to see where the upcoming obstacles really show up.

Sound: 1.5

I like the music and sound just fine. Except the scream when you die. That’s annoying.

Gameplay: 1.5

Fly and shoot and die.

Difficulty: 1.0

A lot of the difficulty is incredibly cheap. I can’t give it credit here.

Fun Factor: 1.0

I wanted this to be fun, but it wasn’t. I am hoping the sequels are better.

Overall Grade: 1.4

Space Harrier earns a D+. It’s a neat idea, but it isn’t executed well.

Space Harrier Video Review on YouTube