INCREDULITY has been expressed at this game, especially in its original arcade form. The hydraulic version is the only arcade machine in which there is a very real danger of personal damage - falling off is no fun.
Contrary to popular belief, Space Harrier does have a plot although not a very good one. Apparently the fantasy zone have gone weird and need cleaning up. They always were a bit weird, but this time they really have had a serious wack attack.
Enormous things straight out of a deranged head rush towards you and it's a good idea to get rid off them asap. You see, it's either them or you. And since you paid for the pleasure, it's got to be them.
You are a small fair haired chap toting an enormous pulse laser held aloft by a powerful jetpack. Everything scrolls towards you in the manner of all recent Sega games, but at an unbelievable speed.
OK, some of the time all that's happening is the chequered landscape moving, but other times there are a lot of large sprites moving too quickly to see, let alone count.
Bits of the scenery don't give in to your luminous lentil laser and are also too high to fly over, so very fast flying out of the way is needed. At the end of each level huge guardians zoom about nastily doing their best to remove a life or six. These always have a weak spot - finding the technique is the difficult part.
The programmers have seen fit to include a mouse option, which is not quite as accurate as the joystick but much faster. Control can be switched between the two devices instantly, so it's possible to play certain parts of the game with the correct controller.
The first level, Moot, is really a test of control and memory. Everything can be shot but all the waves must be learnt or you'll lose a few of your nine lives.
The second level, Geeza, is best tackled low. Two-thirds of it can be handled without moving. Level three, Amak, needs fast, high flying and the double-
The screen is overscanned so you really feel "in" the game. The sound effects and tunes have been lifted straight from the arcade machine, including the rambling, tuneless bits once you've run out of lives. The only bit they shouldn't have lifted is the appallingly sampled "Get Ready" at every new life. I've heard better on a Spectrum. Honestly.
The stereo is used to locate your player. If he moves to the left, the majority of the laser noise comes from the left speaker.
Maybe it's been done before, but it's a real cute touch. Actually, the arcade machine's sound wasn't all that great so I guess the programmers are just working to brief.
Amiga Space Harrier is the closest thing to the real machine. The speed and clarity of the sprites is totally astonishing and if the mouse option is used the main sprite moves too fast to follow. If you feel in need of an adrenal hotshot coupled with some senseless violence, the prescription is this game.