Amstrad Action1st February 1987
Published in Amstrad Action #17
If you've visited the arcades over the past year, you may well have noticed this game. The arcade version allowed you to sit in a booth that was moved around in relation to the action to enhance the feeling of movement. Of course that isn't possible for the home versions, but this still looks like another big smash for Elite.
It's another game where you don't have to worry much about the scenario just blast everything foolish enough to stray onto the screen. You take the role of a man toting a hip-slung gun.
You can move all over the screen, running along the ground or flying through the air. When the man runs carrying the gun, the rear view gives the impression he's playing a guitar. This is dispelled when he flies or turns sideways, or by loosing off the gun's lethal blast.
The ground scrolls towards you; scenery in the background moves when you swing away from the centre of the screen. Trees - drawn with vector graphics - loom fast toward you. Avoid these or they will cost you a life. You can't shoot the trees on any of the many levels, but they do vary in height and shape.
Once you experience the speed of the game you may think this enough to cope with. But there's plenty more to come: all manner of weird aliens are going to be thrown at you.
Aliens too are all drawn using vector graphics, and come on in waves from different parts of the screen. Sometimes they appear from behind you, sometimes from the distance ahead and sometimes zip in from the sides.
Once on screen they'll wheel about in a pre-set pattern, blasting off oval-shaped charges at you before disappearing off screen. If a shot hits you, you lose another life, but if you can hit the aliens with your bullets they blow up.
At first you'll wonder what on earth is going on. But as you get used to the speed of the action, the vector graphics against solid-graphic background, and the three things you have to avoid (trees, aliens and shots), things will become easier. The most important thing is concentration: at the speed things move, you have to be at your peak of seeing and thinking.
This isn't one of those horribly tough games, mind you, because you can get right into it and have plenty of blasting fun whatever your standard of play. If you survive enough waves, you get through to a different scrolling background with new trees (which aren't always trees!). On some levels you must first defeat a multi-segmented dragon, which stays on screen firing salvoes at you until you hit it enough times or lose all your lives.
The graphics are superb and incredibly fast. At first you may find the vector-graphic aliens hard to pick out out, but keep playing and you'll appreciate them more and more. The music that accompanies the game is just right and the gameplay is sheer, unadulterated blasting bliss. You'll come away from the game mentally, and probably physically, exhausted but very satisfied.
If you like it fast and furious, then Space Harrier has got it. You have to be wide awake to play this game. Trying to amass multi-million scores at four in the morning is not the way to do it. The speed and mindlessness of Harrier ensures that I for one shall be playing it for weeks.
Green Screen View
Everything is much clearer in green. Be thankful - you need all the help you can get.
First Day Target Score
500,000 points. Don't you just love it?
P. Amazingly fast action.
P. Good scrolling backgrounds.
P. Great vector graphics for trees and aliens.
P. Many levels of increasing challenge.
P. Good music for accompanying game.
N. Both you and your joystick may be knackered.