I wouldn’t count Space Harrier as one of my very favourites, but this classic shoot ‘em up has still left its mark on me. I now fully appreciate the dangers of mushrooms – countering Mario’s pro-fungus propaganda – and every time I see a large fluffy dog I sing the Bonus Stage music to myself. I actually just learnt that the opening phrase isn’t “welcome to the family, people” but “welcome to the Fantasy Zone”! You really do learn something new every day.
The sheer number of bizarre enemies in Space Harrier was without parallel until the Keio series started, with bouncing mushrooms, deadly Moai statues and reflective metallic… things. The dragon bosses stand out as great encounters, the original red dragon even being resurrected as a minigame in Sumo Digital’s recent Sega Superstars Tennis. It’s had quite a few good home conversions, the best of course being on Saturn’s Sega Ages Volume 1 (shame we never got Volume 2!), but make sure you avoid the 3D debacle on Sega Classics Collection for PS2. It burns!
Recently Tez Okana teased us with the prospect of a brand new Space Harrier, claiming that any future projects (including a new Fantasy Zone!) hinge on the sales performance of underwhelming PS2 shooter ThunderForce VI. I’m not holding my breath, but as always the promise of a new take on an old classic brings with it so many conflicting emotions. Don’t mess this up, Sega!