Space Harrier is one of those classic Sega games. The name is recognizable by anyone who has seen it in the 34 years since it made its arcade debut. Whether it is in an arcade, on a console or perhaps even in a Yakuza 0 virtual arcade, this early Yu Suzuki title has a sense of presence. There are plenty of reasons to remember it. Now, with the Nintendo Switch Sega Ages Space Harrier release, there is a refined version of the original game that takes optimized elements from past releases and a few optional gimmicks that provide a new way to look at the game, regardless of how good you may be at it.
As is common with games from this era, there is no real method to Space Harrier’s madness. Harrier is a person with a laser cannon who is flying through different areas in the Land of the Dragons. Odd enemies, like cyclops mammoths and two-headed dragons, appear. Sometimes, a friendly dragon named Uriah shows up to give Harrier a ride through bonus levels. If you meet certain conditions, a former console-exclusive boss named Haya Oh appears for a fight.
What is uncommon has always been Space Harrier’s perspective; this is an on-rails shooter that did a better job of providing a 3D-like experience years before other games.
What is uncommon has always been Space Harrier’s perspective; this is an on-rails shooter that did a better job of providing a 3D-like experience years before other games. In Sega Ages Space Harrier, M2 has made things look clearer and crisper than ever before. Everything is pixel perfect, providing an incredibly detailed look at the enemies environment. While 3D Space Harrier popped on the Nintendo 3DS, it looks just as impressive here. The forced perspective is handled so well, and it could perhaps help someone feel like their accuracy could improve because of that presentation. Even things like the widescreen presentation and optional filters make it look quite good.
Each of the Sega Ages games has special features. With Sega Ages Space Harrier, there are two gimmicks. One is the goofy joystick control scheme. This is M2’s way of adding motion controls in. But, don’t let the idea of “motion controls” dissuade you. They are actually a positive option that lets a person use a Joy-Con vertically, as though they were holding a Space Harrier joystick in an arcade. If you are playing docked, it is actually rather accurate and can be a fun option if someone wants to change things up.
The other Sega Ages Space Harrier feature is Komainu Barrier Attack. In this mode, Harrier gets two friends while people go through the levels. The two Komainu, a pair of mythical dogs who typically protected Wiwi Jumbo in stage 17, offer invincibility against everything except bullets. Considering some of the hazards here are keeping Harrier away from obstacles like rocks, ruins and trees as he zooms through the sky, it eliminates some dangers and lets people focus on dodging bullets and shooting at enemies.
One of the only downsides is that Sega Ages Space Harrier hides away its jukebox function. Its soundtrack is incredible. It’s one of Hiroshi Kawaguchi’s finest works. It is possible to listen to its 11 tracks for fun. However, it hides it away in the Settings menu, where people can find everything in the Music Player. It is a shame it doesn’t have an option to have songs play one after another or organize actual playlists. In a version of a game where so many other features get special attention, it is especially noticeable when a part that should, doesn’t.
Sega Ages Space Harrier is the latest version of an incredibly influential game and, thanks to things like Komainu Barrier Attack, it makes it easier for people to play and appreciate it.
Sega Ages Space Harrier is the latest version of an incredibly influential game and, thanks to things like Komainu Barrier Attack, it makes it easier for people to play and appreciate it. It looks and runs perfect on the Nintendo Switch. The extra features aren’t forced on anyone and, if someone does opt in for a different control scheme or the Komainu buddies, are integrated in a way that feels natural and work well with the gameplay people have known for years.