By: Matthew Striplen
Were the ’80s a weird time? According to Space Harrier, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” All bizarreness aside, Space Harrier 3D is a port of the 1985 Sega arcade game. Like other Sega arcade games, this has been ported to a multitude of devices, most notably the Genesis, and most recently, the 3DS. This port, like the other Sega ports for 3DS, sports a hefty amount of changeable settings.
Here’s an interesting factoid for you: Did you know Space Harrier was one of the first games to use pseudo-3D graphics? To achieve this, they used sprite scaling, meaning all the crazy monsters flying past you are actually rapidly changing sprites of different sizes. Pretty neat, right? This accomplishment went on to inspire the Nintendo classic Star Fox. Unfortunately, the addition of real 3D effects does not work as well as it should. Since the scenery already looks like it has depth, 3D only made my eyes hurt and see double.
The start screen, like the other Sega 3DS ports, displays a new menu before the original Space Harrier screen. This lays out the usual buttons: Start, Settings, Replay, Load and Credits. Start brings the player to the original start screen, replay allows the player to save a single replay, load brings the single save file and credits is self explanatory.
Unlike other Sega arcade ports, Space Harrier 3D is a direct port of the arcade version and is still coin operated. In order to start the game, players must use the assigned button to “insert” a coin. This is also the case after losing your last life. The game grants the player a traditional countdown to insert a coin to resume play. This does not mean, however, that one can play indefinitely. The game allows the player only three continues before forcing the session to end.
Now, let’s dig into the settings page. Space Harrier 3D has four different difficulty levels. Along with that, the number of lives can be altered from two to five. Since Space Harrier was originally an arcade game, the developers sought to emulate the feel of an arcade cabinet. Players have the opportunity to make the cabinet move, thus tilting the screen whenever the player’s sprite travels to the right or left.
Other ports have also had this tilting capability, but it doesn’t work well here because of the lack of gyro controls. Also, the player has the option to turn on “cabinet noises.” This is one of the weirder things I’ve seen in a Sega port. My best guess is that the original cabinet had several moving parts that vibrated, producing a sound. By turning on this function, the game simulates ambient noises by adding various beeps, clunks and whistles. Why? Because they can.
Three methods of control are offered to the player: circle pad, d-pad and touch screen. My favorite by far was the touch screen. It was responsive and had the added bonus of simultaneously engaging the rapid fire button. The others require the player to hold down “B” indefinitely. The rapid fire function also has three different speed settings.
The d-pad’s movements were jerky and unrefined, but the worst was the circle pad. Instead of moving the player normally, whenever the pad is released to its neutral position, the character’s sprite also resets to the center of the screen. This method just didn’t make much sense to me. Gamers will be happy to know Space Harrier allows for inverted and standard flight controls.
The aspiring acoustic engineers reading this will be happy to learn that Space Harrier allows gamers to micromanage the sound. In addition to changing the game and environment sounds, an equalizer enables the restructuring of any soundtrack down to the last hertz unit. Why go to the trouble of adding all this? Why not?
Sega has rereleased tons of classic games to the 3DS recently, all with souped up settings. Some options are cool and useful, such as the touch control option, but most are pointless to the point of hilarity, like the cabinet noises. Thankfully, these additions are, at the end of the day, only options, so they do not detract anything from Space Harrier 3D. So let’s blast some cyclops mammoth aliens!