Space Harrier. The game that needs no introduction. And so what better excuse not to write one.
It won the hearts and most of the pocket contents of millions of people everywhere when it made its debut as a chunk of coin-op hardware a couple of years back. You know why? Not because it was a particularly good game, which it is. Nor was it because of the 'never before seen the like of' 3D superfast graphics, which by some strange coincidence, it has. It was because Space Harrier was one of the first machines to have a bucking hydraulic seat.
Yet when it came to it, the only thing that really kept people coming back for more was the game itself. With that in mind, Elite have come up with the best conversion of Space Harrier I have yet seen - including Sega's own and that of the mighty PC Engine!
Scroll along the chequered landscape avoiding all the indestructible items, shooting anything else which gets in your way including the end of level guardian. The only real difference between this and any other shoot-'em-up is that this is done in a second person perspective view, situated directly behind the main sprite.
As you rush forward through the incredibly quickly scrolling landscape, various items attempt to block your way. Mysterious floating rocks, flying toadstools and weird flying monoliths. Then there are the enemy ships that fly on in waves, throw loads of flak at you, and then fly off again. At the end of each level, you get a real nasty thing to get rid of, which normally has to be hit several times. On the first level, you get to do battle with a huge dragon that swirls in and out of the foreground and has to be shot in the head. Level two has you battling huge monolith heads that need to be shot quite a bit. Further on in the game come two-headed dragons, and even two dragons at once.
I never really rated Space Harrier in the arcades. To me it was just Sega saying "We've got a new, even faster 3D update routing, and we're gonna use it". However, Space Harrier on the Amiga is a masterpiece of modern programming. The sprites are the same. The scrolling is just as silky smooth as the arcade, and as for the update on the sprites themselves. Brilliant. Colour has been used really well, too.
Sound is good. Elite have successfully managed to take the original Space Harrier tune and jazzed it up a bit. All the in-game effects are there, as well as speech.
Space Harrier has finally been converted perfectly. It looks good, sounds good and thankfully, it plays very well.