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Space Harrier - VC Arcade Review

Game Info
Space Harrier

Virtual Console Arcade | SEGA | 1 Player | Out Now | 800 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Wii Remote (joystick); Classic Controller; GameCube Controller
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3rd April 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

It's undeniable that SEGA has been a pioneer of some excellent arcade experiences in times past. Now, seeing SEGA bring the original, arcade-conditioned version of Space Harrier to the Virtual Console Arcade is certainly great to see. Although it's considered to be a timeless classic for many, does Space Harrier still hold enough weight in this day and age? Has it succeeded in appealing to new audiences who have yet to experience the game?

    In Space Harrier, you control a bold, young hero who travels through the virtual cyberspace known as the Fantasy Zone. Equipped with a rapid-fire laser gun, the hero is ready for you to jump in and take on a whole slew of mysterious creatures in a nice range of environments. In addition to the mix of prehistoric and futuristic-looking enemies, what makes the game unique is its camera which is placed behind your character, with dangerous enemies floating towards the screen in a 3D space. It's definitely a different take on the typical camera settings you'd expect to find in a space shooter. 

Controls work pretty well for an on-rails shooter. In an attempt to try to re-create the arcade experience for home consoles, SEGA added in the ability to use the motion controls of the Nunchuk to simulate that of a joystick, standing it upright, tilting in the desired direction and using the A/B Buttons when need be. These motions get the job done but they're a bit spastic in their follow-through. Moreover, it's best to stick with the standard control scheme, using the Nunchuk's analog to control. Wii Remote IR support would've been a great experiment for this game's re-release but alas, such an innovative control scheme isn't present.

    The arcade version allows players to customize gameplay the way they'd like to depending on what they'd like to get out of the game. Not only controls be toggled and switched around, but you can also change the number of lives to make the game challenging or less intimidating, or even to set the game to infinite lives, where gameplay only ends when you want it to. Those aspiring for the true arcade experience, however, can still opt to play with the standard options.

Space Harrier is a pretty cool game if you're trying it for the very first time, in part thanks to its good presentation. Environments mostly stay the same with city and forest-like landscapes permeating the game's atmosphere. Don't expect a sense of realism, though, as everything has a very cyber feel to it, even right down to the checkboard-style panels that run across the bottom and top of the screen. Music is sure to be a classic hit with those who have already experienced the game in one form or another, but because there are only two tracks in the whole game, some may tire of it easily. Still, the music suits the gameplay it's designed for.

    Most will recall that the original arcade version was actually a pretty tough game, and that fact still remains true here even in this day and age. This is a major reason why being able to customize your options is such a welcome addition -- you'd be surprised with how quickly your lives will deplete if you lack confidence. Enemies are rather varied and they almost feel like they belong to two different periods in time, with mammoths, robots and alien pods being the norm. Some are obviously more offensive than others, and as you get to levels in the double-digits, you'll definitely notice it becoming more and more challenging to hold onto whatever lives you have!

Space Harrier is a classic arcade game with a pretty big nostalgia factor that comes with release of the original arcade experience that hit the gaming scene years ago. Many will find that the game delivers a good arcade experience that's worth re-living on occasion or even trying for the first time. If you can see yourself playing the game more than a few times then the game is already worth getting, since you'd otherwise might go broke if you were to play this in a real arcade. Let's hope SEGA continues to deliver on their promise to bring VCA games over like this one. If this release is any indication then we have quite a bit to look forward to.

23/30 - Good

Gameplay 8/10  - Great shooter that still holds up with a few kinks, challenging aspects should appeal to many
Presentation 7/10 - Unique camera system, navigating the 3D space is executed fairly well, music can get annoying
Enjoyment 4/5 - Can be rather addicting, gameplay won't frustrate as much with the ability to customize options
Extra Content 4/5 - As an arcade game, don't expect too much beyond high-scores, will feel compelled to come back

Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Space Harrier
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