Another week… another game for the Virtual Console. As in, not “More games for the Virtual Console.” One lousy game? Jeez. That said, the one game we get this week is a pretty well-known nugget from the past. That game would be Space Harrier. Sure, the more well-known sequel is already available on the Virtual Console, but the Sega Master System version of the original has its fans as well. Read on for the official GameFAN word on Space Harrier…
System: Sega Master System
Original Release Date: 1986
Price: 500 Wii Points
Charlie Marsh: Well, it’s not the best shooter out there, but its bizarre surreality gives it a special kind of charm. In what other shooters can you fight both huge dragons and cycloptic mammoths? I’m gonna say, none. The arcade action is fun enough the first few times, but I don’t think the fun will last. I’m saving my money on this one.
Christopher Bowen: In the 80s, Space Harrier blew me away. Look at the graphics! They’re coming right for me! Move to the ri–OH SHIT THE CHAIR MOVED WITH ME!? THIS GAME IS FUCKING AWESOME!!! And then I’d get dragged out of the arcade by my hair for swearing. Meeeeeeeeeeeemoriiiiiiiiiiiiiies~
Of course, twenty-three years later, Space Harrier isn’t as impressive as it was back when I was a wee lad, playing it in a pizza parlour (remember when they actually had the newest arcade games, instead of those stupid touch-screen pieces of junk like the one my father has?). It’s what we now know as a “rail shooter” with a steep difficulty curve, and though the arcade version isn’t as good as other games I could compare it to such as After Burner, or even Lucky & Wild, the move to the Master System, though impressive for it’s time, doesn’t pass the smell test nowadays.
If you’re a fan, it’s something to consider at $5, though I have a local arcade around here that still has an old Space Harrier unit, sit-down style, in working condition. I’ll personally stick to that if I ever get the hankering to play Space Harrier again.
Alex Lucard: I love Space Harrier. I have the second one already on the Wii and it was the only really enjoyable section of Sega Superstars Tennis. I find Space Harrier II to have aged decently thanks to the unique controls and awesome level design. I’ve always found the second game to be better then the first, and it’s only a few dollars more, so I’d suggest sticking to that.
If you do choose to pick it up, you’ll be playing one of the very first rail shooters of all time, which the old Sega was a master of designing with titles like Panzer Dragoon and House of the Dead. It’s certainly a game worth playing, but considering Europe got Castlevania III, I’m a bit put out by our selection this week.
Nathan Birch: Space Harrier – I was going to rant about Sega again releasing the lousy Master System version of a game when a Genesis version was available, but after checking it seems the original Space Harrier was ported to every system under the sun except the Genesis. I distinctly remember playing this game on the Genesis, but I suppose that must have been the 32X version, and since I doubt we’ll be seeing that, I guess this is probably your best bet you’ll have for playing the game on the VC.
Not that you’d really want to; Space Harrier was a good concept, but ahead of it’s time, with technology of the day not being up to the task. A rail shooter without 3D graphics simply doesn’t work very well.
Aileen Coe: If you played Space Harrier II first, this will feel like a bit of a letdown. Even so, if you liked Space Harrier II and/or want to add another rail shooter to your collection, this isn’t a bad deal. That being said, this game have been ported to a myriad of consoles, so you do have other options if you still want to check this out but also save your Wii Points. If you do pick this up in some form, be prepared to die a lot and have liberal amounts of “Hey what, where’d that shot/tree/pillar/whathaveyou come from?” moments (possibly accompanied with much fist shaking).
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