SPACE HARRIER | SEGA AGES VOLUME #1

Space Harrier

Sega Saturn Space Harrier Sega Ages Vol 1

Case Scan - Click for Larger

Space Harrier is one of the most famous games in the world. It was a true showcase title as to why Sega are the premier arcade developer.

In it’s time the game was a revolutionary jump in terms of graphics. Space Harrier literally bought a new perspective to games which had previously only been accustomed to 2D.

It’s fast action gameplay, smooth psychedelic graphics made the game an instant success and ultimately went on to have a huge impact on the arcade scene. Now some 17 years later new versions are being released for modern platforms.

The source for this article is based upon the Saturn version contained within the Sega Ages Vol 1 which also contains After Burner and Out Run. It was released in Europe in 1997.

Get Ready!

HISTORY

System 16 Arcade Board

SYSTEM16 BOARD

Space Harrier was created by Yu Suzuki in 1985 of team AM2 and ran on the System16 arcade board which at the time was one of the most powerful boards in the world.

The specification of the system included dual Motorola 68000’s and a Sega custom designed VDP for sprites games as well as various sound processors for the FM synthesised music and effects. The term for these systems was “Super-Scalar” Technology. Space Harrier was the first game to employ the technique. It was the effect used before the newer modes similar to Mode-7 to make the sprites appear smaller and larger. Super-Scalar was less elegant than future techniques yet is created the desired effect - by using several versions of the same sprite to represent it at different distances from the viewpoint of the player a, a sense of forward motion could be achieved. In the case of Space Harrier continuos and forward.

This was in a series of games based upon this technology. Others included Out Run, Afterburner and Buggy Heat. The same system board was also used for games like Enduro Racer.

Simple ports of the game began to appear. One of the first conversions out of the arcades appeared on Sega’s 8-Bit Master System. The undertaking was quite ambitious on Sega’s part due to the fact the Master System had no where near the power of the arcade machine. Whilst the conversion could not capture the smoothness and the speed of the arcade machine it did still manage to make a good challenging game.

Other simpler ports appeared for a huge range of home computers and consoles making Space Harrier probably one of the most ported games of all time.

It was not till the advent of consoles like the Mega Drive 32X and Saturn that a perfect port of the arcade could be achieved.

STORY

After years of attack from the demon Absymbel the protective shielding around Dragonland has been breached. Dragonland’s defences were no match for the invading army and now the land is under Absymbel’s reign.

You character is Harri - he is the last sentinels that defend Dragonland. Whilst evading the advancing forces he sees that their firepower has destroyed most of the surrounding terrain. Whilst contemplating the destruction he observes something metallic and shining that has been unearthed in all the chaos.

Curiosity makes him investigate - a Jetpack! but this was unlike anything he had ever seen. He knew the mythology of knights who once defended Dragonland who carried such powerful yet ancient machines. Jet packs also allowed these warriors of the past to run and fly and terrific speeds. These also apparently had some sort of weapon - a huge laser mounted in the front.

A big bright button on the side of the Jet Pack obviously had some sort of important function. Harri pushed it. Whoa! He felt himself lift off the ground. At first the experience was frightening but the simple use of this machine made the sensation soon turn to exhilaration.

He soon realised however, that he was not the only one flying. In the distance a formation of aircraft appear in the horizon. Their speed suggests that they are not friendly sentinel craft but Absylian. They change course and approach him. A new battle is about to begin.

As Harri, you will engage the enemy forces in each of the provinces of Dragonland starting with Moot. Absymbel will send stronger and stronger forces to destroy you. Can you make it to the capital and retake Dragonland from the demon Absymbel?

GAMEPLAY

Space Harrier

HARRI

Space Harrier is an incredibly simplistic to play and therefore makes the game easily addictive. Harri runs or flies across a chequered floor with the aid of his jet pack and laser cannon under his arm on a pseudo “face-on” 3D perspective landscape. Enemies and objects appear in the distance and get larger until they pass you. Most stages will be open landscape, however, some will have a chequered ceiling also giving an underground feel.

The mode for progress in the game is dodge and shoot; dodge the weapons fire from incoming enemies, the various pilons and pillars which litter the landscape, the larger rocks on the floor and shoot down as many enemies as you can. The pace in which a stage will progress and enemies come at you is also variable. For the most part you will stay at one speed, however, in some sections and entire stages, your speed will be double. On these stages sometimes the best strategy is simply to avoid.

The D-pad moves Harri around the full area of the screen. When touching the floor he is on his feet. Above the floor the low gravity allows him to remain in the air and fly. Whether you are running or floating your speed is the same.

Buttons A,B and C on the control pad are fire. Holding any button gives rapid fire but this is very slow. The best approach is to continuously press a single button for rapid fire. Your fire will also home to a certain degree. If you shoot to within a small area of an enemy it should find the target, however, do not rely on this.

Buttons X,Y,Z, L and R have no function. The NiGHTS 3D controller is compatible with this game.

On screen you will have your points, hi-points, the stage you are on and how many lives you have left represented by small harrier figures.

Your score begins counting up as soon as you start running and continues until game over. More points are earned as you destroy enemies and objects. More points can be earned in the Bonus Stages. Points earn extra lives though not many.

Most of the enemies that approach you can be destroyed with a single shot. Some, however, some need to be hit at certain times whilst very few are indestructible. You will know this as your fire will bounce off as like with pilons etc. Each enemy that appears is accompanied by a signature sound and each type of projectile launched at you will have a signature sound. This is handy when there is too much on the screen to see what is going on! There will also be a sound when an enemy fires at you.

You can die by being hit by an enemy, this be by a projectile or collision, or by running into a stationary object such as a pilon or creature on the floor. Most floor bound creatures along with small rocks can be destroyed unlike pilons. Harri will trip over some of the smaller objects that are on the floor. Whilst this does not harm you is does make him unresponsive for a second or two which is a long time in Space Harrier.

In a standard game you will begin with 3 lives. When all those lives are lost you will return to the title screen via the high score’s board if you are eligible. Upon game over you maybe able to continue from a stage. See about the bonus stage below.

A stage falls somewhere between 1 and 2 minutes of gameplay. You will battle waves of creatures before encountering a boss creature at the end. Boss creatures will require several hits before they are destroyed. As you damage them they will change colour. The weak spot is the head. When the creature is red it is close to destruction.

Stage 8: Ida Stage 1: Moot

A bonus stage is the opportunity to collect points which in turn gain extra lives. When you reach a Bonus Stage you will fly on the Uriahan Wind Worm. When riding this creature use the D-Pad left and right to direct it to destroy objects. The more objects you destroy the more points you collect.

Bonus Stage

You can continue if you have reached a Bonus Round before loosing your last life. You can continue from the stage directly following the bonus stage. This translates into being able to continue from round 6 and 13 if you have already passed them in a game. This is only relevant to the game you are playing now. It is not saved when you exit. The option for this will appear on the title screen.
Stage 11: Parms Stage 16: Natura

The game comprises of 18 stages in total; 16 stages of combat and 2 bonus rounds. The game ends upon completion of stage 18 - Absymbel which is a collection of most of the bosses in a different order to how they appeared in the game.

SATURN SPECIFICS

The Saturn version sports a few tweaks over the original arcade machine which are all conveniently placed on an options screen. This is accessed on the title screen. The available options are:

Level - You can select the difficulty of the game.

Player - The amount of lives you start the game with

Trial Time - Select either On or Off. With Trial Time on, for the first 60 seconds of the game you will not loose any lives even if Harri is killed.

Bonus Player - Set the amount of points that are needed before you receive an extra life. 5 or 7 million.

Music Test - Select tunes from the game. Press A,B or C to play.

Up/Down - Toggles normal or reverse mode for Up and Down on the D-Pad.

Ranking - Press A or C to view the top 99 scores for the game. Press B to return to the options screen.

Sound Mode - Switch between Stereo and Mono sound.

You can return to the title screen at anytime during play by pressing A,B,C and Start together. Pressing it again will return you to the Sega Ages select screen.

Options Screen

OPTIONS SCREEN

STAGES OF THE GAME

One of Space Harrier’s trademarks was the bizarre names for each of the stage or provinces of the game. You can see some more screenshots on this page.

Stage 1: Moot

Stage 2: Geeza

Stage 3: Amar

Stage 4: Ceiceil

Stage 5: Bonus Round

Stage 6: Olisis

Stage 7: Lucasia

Stage 8: Ida

Stage 9: Revi

Stage 10: Minia

Stage 11: Parms

Stage 12: Bonus Round

Stage 13: Drail

Stage 14: Asute

Stage 15: Vicel

Stage 16: Natura

Stage 17: Nark

Stage 18: Absymbel

Space Harrier Theme [MP3 160Kbit]

Welcome to the Fantasy Zone [MP3 160Kbit]

Get Ready! [MP3 160Kbit]

CHEATS AND TIPS

Arcade Mode

To make the game revert to arcade mode wait for the title screen, then press A, C + Start on Controller Two.

Diagnostics Screen

You can access the arcade diagnostics screens by holding X, Y, Z and Start in controller one. There you can change difficulty etc. Only works when the game has been switched to arcade mode.
Diagnostics Screen

ORIGINAL ARCADE VERSION

Space Harrier Arcade Flyer

There are 3 types of arcade cabinet for this game. There is the traditional upright standing console, the fixed sit down and the full motion cockpit. The control panels on each machine have backlit instrument gauges. The same branding appears on each of the units they being a dragon, the harrier character and the racing stripes.

Stand-Up Type Space Harrier Cabinet Cockpit Type Space Harrier Cabinet

STAND UP TYPE CABINET

COCK PIT TYPE CABINET

EMULATION

The game is emulated perfectly using the System16 Emulator version 0.82. Below version 0.80 lacks emulation for the sound chip and as such most rom sets will not contain the sound roms but they can be obtained.

Version 0.79 and 0.80 of the DirectX version emulate the game with no problems.

The game can also be played using MAME.
System 16 Emulator

SYSTEM16 EMULATOR

OTHER VERSIONS

Space Harrier is probably one of the most converted and ported titles ever. This port of the arcade version (this one) has appeared on a dozens of consoles and computers. The Sega versions are below.

The final release of the original Space Harrier came in a collection called Yu Suzuki’s Game Works for the Dreamcast in 2001. The game is also incorporated into Shenmue as a bonus feature.

Space Harrier - Master System and Game Gear

The first console port of the original arcade game. Quite a playable considering the power of the machine compared against the arcade board. This was later ported to Game Gear also which had the addition of a password system for stages.

Space Harrier 3D - Master System

A separate version of Space Harrier that was on Master System only. This one was designed to work with the novel 3D glasses for that leaping out the tv feel.

Space Harrier 3D

Space Harrier 2 - Mega Drive

A sequel which was produced as a launch title for the Mega Drive in 1989. Space Harrier 2 keeps everything pretty much the same yet with only 13 stages and reduced difficulty the game is inferior to the original.

The story is Harri responds to a distress call from fantasy land and departs to do battle against further waves of enemies.
Space Harrier 2 - Mega Drive Space Harrier 2 - Mega Drive

SPACE HARRIER 2

SPACE HARRIER 2

Space Harrier 32X

An almost arcade perfect port for the Mega Drive 32X. This was released along side After Burner. Can also be played in any 32X emulators.

Space Harrier - Gameboy Advance

Space Harrier appears as part of the new Sega Arcade Gallery. The package contains Afterburner, Outrun and Super Hang On.

Sega Arcade Gallery - Game Boy Advance

PLANET HARRIERS

Planet Harriers Page
Planet Harriers

SPACE HARRIER SEGA AGES 2500 VOL 4

3DAGES has released a new version of the original version of Space Harrier for the Playstation 2 under the Sega Ages 2500 series. Check it out here.

LINKS

The Space Harrier Absymbel

It was an excellent website documenting all the various incarnations of Space Harrier across multiple systems. It also has the sound tracks to download. It has since gone offline but viewable through an archive.

System 16.com

An enormous archive website devoted to arcade machines. There is a wealth of information relating to the System 16 arcade cabinet in which Space Harrier runs and the Hikaru arcade board on which Planet Harriers runs. Well recommended.

You can also download a copy of the System16 emulator from there.

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