“Welcome to the Fantasy Zone. Get ready!”
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a bloke with luscious flowing locks, armed with a mahoosive hand cannon, allegedly equipped with a jet pack (yet I can’t see it – possibly his gun?). It’s Space Harrier. Unleashed onto the arcade by Sega in 1985 and developed by Yu Suzuki (who also helped craft Hang On, Out Run, After Burner and Virtua Racing amongst many others), Space Harrier is a third person, on rails shooter. It’s the story of a man who has realised he’s left the stove on at home and has to quickly rush back to turn it off as he’s concerned not only about the risk of fire to his space galaxy property but also the increase in his space galaxy utility bills. Namely space gas which has gone through the roof in recent months due to tension in the space middle east zone. I think that’s the basic premise anyway as you’re not given any back story, so we’ll go with that.
At the time of its release Space Harrier was a huge success and the first to be running on Sega’s Super Scaler series of pseudo-3D arcade hardware and according to the flyer, the first time “a graphic capacity of 1.2M” was used in an amusement game machine. I can recall being blown away by this upon release and in particular the sit down rolling motion cabinet which felt like you were ACTUALLY nipping home to turn the gas off. The flyer describes the gameplay as thus;
– Attack the enemy with the SHOOT button.
– Avoid the obstacles by moving the Joystick in the backward/forward, horizontal and diagonal directions.
-When all of the players are lost, the game is over.
So far so simple… The current world record on the Arcade over at Twin Galaxies is 42,384,290 held by Philip Campbell and the MAME record, our emulation platform of choice, is 32,270,540 by Stu R Rankin. Are these reachable? Are these surpassable? Are these even worth bothering with? Only the Ten Pence Arcade duo and its merry band of listeners can find out…