Space Harrier II Review (Sega Genesis / Mega Drive)

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Space Harrier 2 was developed and published by Sega back in 1988 as a launch title for the Mega Drive in Japan. It was then made available for the US launch of the Sega Genesis in 1989 and for the PAL/European Mega Drive in 1990.

The original Space Harrier was one of many popular arcade games made by Sega that used sprite-scaling technology to achieve a 3D effect. Other titles include Hang-On, Out Run and After Burner which most people are familiar with.

Unfortunately the system hardware for the Mega Drive and Genesis wasn’t able to handle sprite-scaling, so a compromise had to be made where each enemy and part of the landscape was pre-rendered at different sizes to give a similar illusion. This resulted in the projectiles being harder to avoid and the game looking a little bit choppy, but for the time this was forgivable and still much more impressive than any of the ports of the original game on other systems.

Visually, Space Harrier 2 holds up pretty well to its arcade predecessor, keeping with the surreal, psychedelic, space greek-inspired theme. There’s a fair amount of familiarity with enough new enemies and bosses to keep it interesting over the 12 stages which you can play in any order, followed by an added final stage if you can complete them all. Something I’ve never been able to achieve due to its high difficulty.

The gameplay here is as fun as ever and ideal for playing in short bursts. Sega’s original approach of creating arcade games for it’s home console wasn’t quite as successful as they’d hoped, as most people wanted more longevity and value from their video games; a lesson they were quickly learning from their biggest competitor Nintendo and which led them to eventually create Sonic the Hedgehog.

In terms of audio, we’re no longer welcomed to the fantasy zone and the main theme tune is unfortunately absent. The game does boast some digitised speech which was impressive for the time and the new music is still pretty good. It’s just that the original introduction and theme tune are so iconic. I would have loved to have that still in there.

Over the years, Space Harrier hasn’t quite received the same treatment from Sega as After Burner and Out Run. After Burner Climax and Out Run 2 were fantastic true 3D sequels and I really wish they’d done something more with this other than just the odd tribute here and there in games like Bayonetta and the fairly uninspired 3D version that came as part of the Sega Classics Collection on the PlayStation 2. Be sure to check my review of that if you haven’t seen it already.

If you have any fond memories of this game of the original Space Harrier I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. If you enjoyed this video, please consider hitting the like button, subscribing and sharing it with your friends and as always thanks for watching, take care and I’ll see you in the next video!

Space Harrier II Review Summary

B Recommended
Overall Space Harrier 2 is a good sequel and home console version of the classic arcade game. If you're after something that plays much more like the original though, I've heard that the Sega Saturn and 32X versions are possibly the best, but you can also play this on the Nintendo 3DS, in Shenmue on the Dreamcast or as an unlockable in the Mega Drive and Genesis collection that was available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

If you are a fan of Space Harrier, I'd recommend you add this to your collection as it's fairly cheap to pick-up and worth a play through from time to time. Otherwise, if you're new to the series or just want to emulate the arcade, check out my other suggestions.

Matt has been hooked on games since he received his first console (a SEGA Mega Drive) for his 7th birthday. He now spends most of his time on the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Nintendo 3DS, but will use any excuse for a retro gaming night.


Posted on October 16, 2016 | Last modified: 16th October 2016