Friday, June 5, 2009

Genesis look: Space Harrier 2

I'm a big fan of Space Harrier. While some people are turned off by the game's lack of depth, repetitive levels, and easy bosses I can't get enough of it. It's a simple game but it works well since it has a constant rising level of intensity and it's easy to jump in, play for several minutes, and be done with it. 

Space Harrier's success in the arcades obviously meant a Genesis port was in the cards. Sega took it a step farther however by making it a sequel. A console-only Sequel to an arcade game!? Okay maybe that isn't a big deal at all these days but back then...okay maybe it wasn't a big deal back then either.

Anyway like the previous game Space Harrier 2 is about as simple as you could imagine. You control Harrier(a guy with a jetpack and a gun) as he flies and runs constantly forward. You can move in any direction and fire straight ahead. Enemies will fly in(in formation or by themselves depending on the type), objects dot the landscape, and everything intends on killing you. Surviving is simple since all you need is good reflexes and perhaps a bit of understanding of the foes you face(they repeat fairly often so you pick up on how they behave). Everything dies in a single hit(including yourself) except for the bosses that are at the end of each stage. After five stages you get to enter a bonus round and score huge points and after 12 stages you fight every boss in the game and then the final before getting an ending.

To start with it's unfortunate that Sega felt the need to develop games for a piece of hardware that just isn't able to accurately replicate some arcade games. Super Thunder Blade suffered horribly due to the choppy scrolling and Space Harrier 2 has similar problems. On the other hand Space Harrier 2 is a bit easier to play and the choppiness is hardly jarring(especially if you're familiar with the arcade game and can accurately predict when and where enemies fire). Moving past that the developers actually did a good job on emulating the arcade version's gameplay. It's easy to get into and shows remarkable mechanics. Obviously if you're not a fan of the arcade version you definitely won't get into this but otherwise it's actually decent.

I'm not sure why Sega decided to call this game Space Harrier 2 though. While there are new enemies and bosses the basic gameplay hasn't recieved any advances and there really aren't enough new ideas or patterns put into play. This game does try a couple new things(like enemies that can attack from different directions) but they aren't pronounced enough or used very often to really change things up. I guess since this sequel never came to arcades it doesn't really matter. Still it's solid and if you somehow get this game by accident it just might be worth your time.

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