Space Harrier is a latest title to receive the Sega Ages treatment from M2 on Switch. Outfitted with all the options a fan could want, this is a great way to experience this classic title. Screen filtering, boarder options, screen size adjustments, gameplay modes, and online leaderboards are all the modern features fans would expect for a 2019 release and are here in spades. This game actually looks and plays well on Switch.
The biggest addition to this retro release is the newly added Komainu Barrier mode. When selected from the main menu, the player will be flanked by two raccoon critters that allow the player to fly right through barriers that would normally cost one life if contact is made. However, the player is still able to get nailed by enemy attacks such as fireballs. Further, if one of these critters takes a hit, the barrier will drop and will need some time to regenerate. This new mode, combined with unlimited continues, is fantastic for newbies and brings a new set of balance to the quarter munching arcade gameplay. In fact, this mode allowed me to complete Spare Harrier for the first time. Then, when finished, the game records the high score and uploads it to the online leaderboard. One important note, I currently do not have a Nintendo Online subscription but my high score was still loaded to the online leaderboard. At the time of this review, this game is not publicly available on American Nintendo Switch consoles so perhaps this will change upon release. In the meantime, this game was previously released in Japan so the leaderboard competition is already pretty fierce.
While the features are there and glad to see a retro game become available again on a new system, Space Harrier is a tough game. Playing as a flying dude wearing blue jeans and carrying an awkwardly sized space cannon is a little hard to comprehend, especially when being attacked by stone heads and snaky dragons. At the time, the flying effect was something special in arcades but today, when playing on a high def flat screen, can cause some headaches by the time a single play through is completed. Cheap deaths can happen at any moment and only gets worse nearing the end. Listening to the constant “I just died” sound effect can also wear on nerves quickly.
From a gameplay perspective, Space Harrier might not be the best retro arcade style game out there. From a technical stand point, M2 did their homework and hit a homerun as the quality of the emulation and included gamgeplay options are unmatched. Even if you are not a fan of the seizure inducing gameplay, it is hard to ignore the care put into this $7.99 eShop digital download.
Also Try: 3D World Runner (NES)
Did You Know?: Sega Ages is a palindrome
Wait For It: Sega Ages Puyo Pop