Elite Systems Ltd
Keith Burkhill
1986
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

28
Chris Bourne

Anyone who is remotely familiar with amusement arcades will have heard of Space Harrier. In tact so imposing is this arcade machine that it would be very difficult to miss. The arcade version incorporates a huge hydraulic arm on which is mounted a seat and a video screen. Apparently it's quite an experience to play. Unfortunately the Spectrum version doesn't include such fancy sundries.

You control a futuristic soldier, a Space Harrier, who is pitting his wilts against all manner of nasty aliens who are threatening to take over. One man against so many seems a fairly tall order. Your soldier is equipped with a jet pack and a powerful gun. This enables him to rocket about at great speeds while blasting away at the opposition.

The basic idea is to blast anything that hurtles towards your character from the back of the screen, whether it's a mean and ugly nasty or the odd bit of countryside. The person perspective action scrolls towards the player at a fair old rate. All the aliens zoom in from the far distant horizon and your soldier has to swoop and duck around blasting them out of the skies. Apart from the many monsters there are also landscape features that have to be avoided. Trees, rocks and large stone obelisks shoot out to meet you and then must be maneuvered around if success is to be yours.

There are sixteen levels to the game. Each one is identified by its distinctive colouring and different graphics. In the later levels the action gets quite furious with inanimate objects hurling at you. The Space Harrier must blast his/her way through all the nasties on a particular level, amassing the biggest score possible. At the end of each level there is a super baddie or baddies who must be conquered before your little soldier sets his feet down on the ground again and awaits the perils of the next level.

Although the majority of the demons in this game are nasty there is an exception. If you get up to level ten, a cute cuddly dragon appears who is obviously very friendly. When he appears in the later levels your Space Harrier gets to ride on his back and together they wreak havock on the attacking monsters. Gone is his powerful laser and the Harrier and his dragonesque mate simply drive into the approaching monsters and destroy them that way. In fact, huge bonus scores can be achieved on this level Your Space Harrier has nine lives in the game. One of these is lost every time he gets shot by one of the monsters. For those that know the Arcade version intimately, the ending is along the same lines.

CRITICISM

'Wow! This game moves at a pace! The first level is fairly easy, but even that's hectic first time through, but as you start to clock levels, things realty do start getting fast. The score table gave me a massive shock the first time I saw it, but I was fairly pleasantly surprised when my scores went into seven figures after ten minutes playing. Although It's quite easy, Space Harrier Isn't the worst ELITE conversion, and though being far from the best, might be worth considering if you're a big fan of the arcade version.'

'The graphics on the arcade version were always what people talked about - but the Spectrum version has tried to make them too detailed, and the result looks very messy indeed. 1 found that it was very hard to see what was coming up the screen at you - and the difference between the missiles and obstacles was very little when moving at such a speed as it does. To me the Spectrum version shows how little actual game is in Space Harrier. I got very bored with it after only a few games. As far as I'm concerned, ELITE can give the seat away with it, and I still wouldn't buy the game.'

'I really liked Space Harrier in the arcades but only because the machine itself jerked around on hydraulics so you got a really good sense of motion when you moved about on screen (experience not to be no. 346). This is not at all a bad version of the original, it plays at high speed and it is quite compelling. The graphics are well above average but they do tend to get a little messy at times. Your character is well drawn but I feel that he could have a few more poses to complete the flying effect. The sound is average-ish, there are no tunes and the effects are mediocre only. This is yet another good shoot 'em up this issue seem to be full of them (horay!).'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable, up, down, left, right, fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: pretty damn fast
Use of colour: vivid
Graphics: amazing perspective effect
Sound: the occasional spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: sixteen scrolling arenas
General Rating: A near miss.

75%
78%
76%
76%
72%
72%
77%

Screenshot Text

in stage two, the scenery changes to a city scape, but the action is still fast and furious.

Facing up to the dragon at the end of stage one; a pretty tricky opponent.