Space Harrier 2
Box Shot
Space Harrier 2
Platform: Genesis
Publisher: Sega
Designer: Sega
Genre: Shoot-em-up
Players: 1
Published Date 1989
Reviewed by: Rob Strangman

Dragonland has been at peace for many years. Then one day, a distress call comes in from Sector 214, halfway across the galaxy. Fantasyland is under attack - apparently by the same forces who ravaged Dragonland years earlier. Fantasyland needs help, and the only person who can stop the evil forces laying waste to Fantasyland is the one who defeated them all those years before. Once again, Space Harrier has been summoned to fight evil, and the fate of Fantasyland is at stake. . .

Space Harrier II is the Genesis sequel to the arcade and SMS game Space Harrier. One of the first games released for the Genesis, Space Harrier II was also one of the best. It's one of the best pseudo 3-D shooters in existence actually.

The graphics are excellent for such an early game - some of the creatures, as well as Harrier himself, look almost photorealistic. The scaling effect in the game (when objects come out of the distance) is done pretty well for a system that didn't have anything like the SNES' Mode 7 capability - there is some choppiness, but it's not too bad. The music is good - it's very memorable (I still find myself humming several themes from it to this day - the main BGM, "Harrier Saga", in particular). It was done with a synthesizer, and considering that the Genesis' sound chip isn't the greatest, it's a surprise that it was pulled off as well as it was. The control is also very good - Harrier does exactly what you want him to.

There are 13 stages in all. The stages all have very imaginative names like Stuna Area (Stage One), Zero Polis (Stage Four), and Hell Peak (Stage Eleven). All the stages are full of obstacles, and some of the stages have a mirror ceiling that comes down (Stage Three, Yees Land, has a particularly stunning ceiling and floor, thanks to the choice of colors used). The enemies are mostly ripped from Space Harrier, but there are some new ones - the bosses in particular, although some are from SH, are mostly all new. The bosses are well designed - a couple of them are very cool looking (particularly Blizzard, Medusa, and Mantichora, which is a giant tiger - with wings!). The last boss is somewhat of a surprise - turns out it's a renegade Harrier, now going under the name Dark Harrier (who is surprisingly easy to beat). SH II is played from a behind-the-back perspective. In addition to running on the ground, you can fly around with some invisible jet pack. You only start with three lives, and there are no continues (no big deal, as it's fairly easy to complete, and you get extra Harriers left and right as you play). There is an option screen, which you access at the title screen by pressing the A button.

Some of the enemies in the game have patterns which are very easy to learn - the key to surving in SH II is to never stay still. One boss in particular, Binzbeen (a giant twenty-sided spacecraft) will charge Harrier, travel along the bottom of the screen, then travel along the top, move down to the middle and fire a shot at Harrier. This is the only time Binzbeen's vulnerable - one shot into him when he opens up to shoot will take him down. Dark Harrier is fairly easy as well - just keep moving and firing, and when he flies off into the distance, he turns into a fireball and comes flying back up at you. Just stay out of his way, and when he parks himself in the center of the screen, it's over!

Space Harrier II is still a great game after all this time. It's still a fairly easy game to find, so if you get a chance to, grab it. I highly recommend it - it's a true classic.