(3DS eShop)

3D Space Harrier (3DS eShop)

Game Review

3D Space Harrier Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Welcome to the Fantasy Zone

Sitting here in 2013, it's almost impossible to fully appreciate the kind of impact Space Harrier had when it hit arcades way back in 1985 — a year when many of today's active gamers weren't even alive. A showcase for Sega's "Super Scaler" technology and the company's skill at creating impressive hydraulically-driven arcade cabinets, it has gone down as one of the company's most beloved outings. Space Harrier's massive sit-down arcade unit is the stuff of video gaming legend, and those lucky enough to have experienced it first hand usually have nothing but happy memories to recount.

Like the vast majority of Sega's coin-op hits, the game was ported to domestic formats soon after release and continues to attract attention even today — hence the large amount of interest in 3D Space Harrier. Considered by developer M2 to be the definitive version of the game, it augments an arcade perfect replication of Yu Suzuki's coin-gobbling classic with 3D visuals, lending Space Harrier a thoroughly convincing feeling of depth. This isn't the first time this trick has been attempted — Space Harrier 3-D on the Sega Master System used the SegaScope 3-D Glasses to create a similar effect — but it's by far and away the most convincing.

For many veteran players, the coin-op version represented their first contact with true analogue control, something which is commonplace today but was a massive deal back in the mid '80s. The 3DS console's Circle Pad might not possess the same imposing heft as the arcade version's bulky flight stick, but it arguably provides the a greater degree of precision and comfort. Releasing the Circle Pad causes your character to snap back to the centre of the screen, which feels odd at first but soon becomes second nature. There's also the option to use the touch screen — firing is triggered automatically in this mode — but oddly your character doesn't move back to the middle of the display when you lift up the stylus. There are benefits and drawbacks to both interface choices, but the fact that we were perfectly comfortable using either indicates that players are sure to find at least one of them suitable.

3D Space Harrier also features a wealth of options, including the ability to dial down the difficulty level, give yourself more lives per continue and even invert the controls to suit your own personal taste — the latter being an essential choice if you're serious about using touch control. You can even enable a screen tilt effect which simulates the feeling of being inside the original arcade cabinet, along with accompanying sound effects — right down to the clicking noise made by the coin-op's flight stick trigger. To be honest, many of these settings are entirely superfluous additions, but dedicated fans will appreciate being able to tinker around to gain the experience they desire.

There are other features which are unique to this particular version of the game. You can save your progress at any point and reload at a later time, and completed stages can be replayed even after you've expended all of your continues. It's also possible to save a replay of your performance for posterity, and you can listen to the game's iconic soundtrack from the options screen.

In fact, the sheer volume of options on offer belies the simplicity of the game itself. 3D Space Harrier is unashamedly an arcade experience, and that means it was designed to entertain in short bursts. Much of its initial fame arose from its amazing, smoothly-scaling visuals and that legendary arcade cabinet; the actual gameplay itself is incredibly basic, with little variety or room for experimentation. Your character flies through the various levels which make up the Fantasy Zone and shoots his cannon at a weird and wonderful selection of enemy sprites; the game never really develops beyond that core mechanic.

While the enemy design is typical of the 1980s arcade scene — dragons rub shoulders with massive Japanese-style robots and modern-looking fighter jets — all you really do is fly, avoid incoming projectiles and try to take out as many opponents as possible. Parts of the environment are destructible, while others are solid and will cause you to lose a life should you be unwise enough to collide with them. There are moments of genuine tension when you're tasked with guiding your character through an obstacle-filled section, but in general the gameplay is as shallow as a puddle.

Despite this, Space Harrier still manages to entertain on a very basic level. The straightforward appeal of simply flying into the screen and shooting things might not make for impressive longevity, but on a portable platform — where short pick-up-and-play sessions are more likely — Sega's arcade outing feels strangely at home. It's ideal for killing a few minutes, and score-chasing players will find focus in trying to improve on their personal best.


Even the staunchest of Sega fans will admit that Space Harrier has never been the deepest of experiences, and this 3DS iteration does little to change that. However, the introduction of an impressive 3D effect — along with a striking selection of options — makes this an attractive purchase for anyone who has a soft spot for the series, or Sega titles in general. This is arguably the best conversion of Yu Suzuki's seminal smash-hit, and while the gameplay is a little on the basic side, 3D Space Harrier still manages to communicate the excitement and intensity which claimed so much spare change way back in 1985.

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User Comments (50)



GuitarAnthony said:

I'll readily admit Space Harrier wasn't the greatest but this remake has some nice touches. If anything, It's nice to see Sega delve back into its arcade history they seemed to avoid during the Xbox/PS2 era when arcade collections were all the rage and all we got from Sega were a few games that needed to be unlocked on Genesis/Mega Drive collections. Now...let Sega remake us some Congo Bongo!



WaveBoy said:

Would of gotten an 8 if it were a nintendo title. i kid i kid. I'm really looking forward to this one! But mostly being out of pure Chuck E Cheese's nostalgia and being able to experience it in stereoscopic 3D. Seems like the perfect match, rather than wasting it on throwaways like Twin Bee or Ubran Champion. good grief. Xevious was pretty rad though.



Morph said:

I was never much of a space harrier fan, but this conversion has made me into one, its almost as if the game was made for the 3ds in the first place, 3d and the thumb pad are perfect for this game



Windy said:

I still need to pick this up. I promised my wife no games until after Christmas. But I think a stop by gamestop to pick up an Eshop card is in order after work today.......shhhhhh.....dont tell her. I hope these sell well so we might see Outrun as a 3D Classic



bugaham said:

@CountWavula If you haven't bought it yet, I can assure you, TwinBee is not a throwaway, and is, at least to me, in close competition with Kid Icarus for the title of best 3D Classic.



Shiryu said:

I really, really want SEGA to release all of this in a single physical cart.



TruenoGT said:

Yeah, this conversion really is remarkable. I didn't really consider the game all that playable previously, but the 3D makes the experience 100x better for me.

On a related note, anyone play "3D World Runner" on the NES with the red/blue glasses back in the day? It's like Space Harrier, but a platformer instead of a shooter. Super fun.



Klimbatize said:

How many levels in this game, and is there an ending of some sort?

EDIT: N/M, looked it up. 18 levels, with a boss at the end of each level. Sounds good to me.



unrandomsam said:

What about the Music ? (Is it correct or not ? M2 doesn't seem to be that bothered about Music).



andreoni79 said:

@Shiryu A Sega compilation, with 40 (forty!) games at budget (budget!) price? Impossible, unless you have a PS3, a 360 or a PC... or a PS2 or a PSP...



Gnoll said:

I bought this yesterday and it rocks!!!! Or maybe it's just nostalgia of the arcades of my youth...
@Windy Yeah, Outrun would be great in 3D!!! I miss it so much I would buy even just the Game Gear version!!!



Gioku said:

Nice to see the 3D Classics making a bit of a comeback! I only had Kirby's Adventure and Kid Icarus so far, and they fit the idea very well!
...and I'm looking for something to download on my 2DS when I get it; 3D Classics games will definitely have to stay on my 3DS, lol.



Gnoll said:

@unrandomsam It sounds good. There's a sound test option and you should be able to choose the music to play with, but I haven't tested it yet. Of course in such a game you usualy go SHOOTSHOOTDODGEhey, nice musicDODGESHOOTDODGE



KeeperBvK said:

Wasn't this supposed to feature an all-new boss or does my memory play tricks on me here?



Windy said:

@andreoni79 One thing I've noticed about the Eshop over the past few years is this.....It's not cheap and never will be. Sure some of the games are only 5 bucks but add them all together and it's pretty costly even with a sale. I have been willing to spend where others maynot. However I find myself getting more and more picky and will absolutely not download a retail game if I can get it on cartridge. In this case though im downloading to show sega some love for converting it to 3d and hopes we see more 3D Classics from sega. Plus im a big fan of most of the Games sega has chosen to convert to 3d at this time



dartmonkey said:

The Ambassador programme helped turn my 3DS into quite the retro machine. I've played Mega Man 1&2 and Tetris for the first time on it. If Nintendo were quicker about making VC available I'd have picked up LttP on it rather than finding a GBA cart on eBay. Never played Space Harrier but quite fancy giving it a blast, though it may involve finding a larger SD card...



Blue_Yoshi said:

So basically can I save my game? Is there any progress so that I don't have to retsart at level 1?



BulbasaurusRex said:

I first played and fell in love with Space Harrier on my Sega 32X (which was the first arcade perfect home console port of the game), then I got the VC Arcade version on my Wii, and I'll definitely pick up this version as well.



electrolite77 said:

I have a funny feeling this is going to make my eyes bleed and I'l be bored of it after an hour.

Still going to buy it though.....



masterLEON said:

The frame rate is so smooth like glass, a solid 60fps! Also to note, redrawn sprites all around. Not remake style, but redrawn enough so they don't look like huge pixels at the final frames of animation before they leave the screen. I've spent a good chunk of time on the aforementioned motion seat cabinet of Space Harrier and I can say this is the best port of the game I've ever played!



zipmon said:

Awesome!! =D I have to admit I've never played Space Harrier (in any form!), but Panorama Cotton is one of my favourite MD games ever and this reminds me so much of it that I have to check it out!



AyeHaley said:

bought it on a whim last night and I am really loving it! Super fun to play in 3D!



gojiguy said:

I got it. Wow.

It's incredible. Some of the best 3D I've seen on the system and the multitude of options is fantastic.



sleepinglion said:

Great review! Thanks a lot!
I'm glad to see it was done with care.
'Golden Axe' is one of my favorite arcade titles so I'm anxious to see how it goes in 3D, but sadly it looks like the Genesis rom and NOT the graphically superior arcade version. I'm glad they went with the arcade one here.



Zodiak13 said:

Enjoying Hang-On more, but still enjoyable. I just remembered I played this on a neighbors PC growing up, like late 80's maybe. Have a feeling I will barely play it ever again, but glad to support Sega releasing more games on the 3DS.



retro_player_22 said:

Being playing this on both my 3DS and 2DS. I had to say the game looks mighty impressive and it runs very smoothly too unlike the emulation version they had on collection before this.



manpretty said:

This game is remarkable. The 3-D is so good. I have it at around 75% and there's no eye strain at all. It's closer to arcade perfect than any other version. The game itself does get a little repetitive, but even as a casual fan of the game I know I spent more than $6 in quarters on it, so this is definitely worth grabbing now.



AcesHigh said:

How about Thunderblade? This game also featured the Super Scaler tech. And Super Monaco GP! And of course, need to have Rad mobile in 3D. Complete with the Sonic mirror danger hang in just inside your peripheral vision in 3D



AcesHigh said:

Would also love to see Golden Axe as a 3D remake. The Magic effects would be stellar in 3D



Genesaur said:

Similarly, Harrier doesn't move to centre when using the D-pad. Basically, don't use the Circle Pad.

I don't quite understand the bit about a lack of depth. It's an arcade shooter from the '80s. Who's expecting depth?



MAB said:

@Genesaur Yeah, it wasn't made by Nintendo so you've got to expect it to get points taken off for some lame reason



Spanish_Bread said:

Hello Damien McFerran, i just wanted to ask if there's an option for gyro controls in this game? I read a review from other website, his username is blaze627 and let me quote him

"The most notable addition, however, is the option to enable a control mode that uses the 3DS' gyroscope to simulate the moving arcade cabinet that the original game employed in it's initial arcade release."

What can you say about that?, I thought only the 3D super hang on has the gyro feature... I'm actually thinking of buying one of the 2 classic SEGA 3D titles... but since super hang on has the gyro feature, i got curious about it and just waiting for reviews for that game before I actually buy it... and then i just saw this review of blaze627 on 3D space harrier, so if there's really a gyro feature on 3d space harrier, i might buy it now and and just buy the other next time...



HandheldGuru97 said:

Well looks I'll be getting this one!!!!!! I'm still waiting for Sonic, but I do love a nice arcadey shooter every now and then. Hope the rest of Sega's 3D Classics are just as good or better



KeeperBvK said:

Since nobody here bothered to state anything on the matter, I did some research and this is the result:

"YO: And finally, since we have this opportunity, I’d like to talk about some additional content we’ve included in the 3D version as well.

  • … What?

NH: We’ve added the final boss from the Mark III version of Space Harrier, HAYA OH, in true arcade style. You can call it a reward for players that push the game really hard. HAYA OH’s music is played through the arcade sound generator as well. I hope it’s a nice surprise when you run into him in game."

So yes, there is a new boss in here that hasn't been in the Mega Drive or Arcade version before. Should have been in the review...



nintendork666 said:

Space Harrier was easily my favorite thing to play on the SEGA Arcade Gallery for GBA. and sounds dreamlike in 3d. I can't wait to try this. Cheers!



Gashole said:

This is one of the first 16-bit games ever, and a VERY important lost chapter in the history of video games.



Bender said:

Just bought 3D Galaxy Force II, and this is next on my buy-list!!! 3D Sega Classics FTW!!! Keep em coming! They're brilliant!

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