Space Harrier 2 was developed and published by Sega back in 1988 as a launch title for the Mega Drive in Japan. It was then made available for the US launch of the Sega Genesis in 1989 and for the PAL/European Mega Drive in 1990.
The original Space Harrier was one of many popular arcade games made by Sega that used sprite-scaling technology to achieve a 3D effect. Other titles include Hang-On, Out Run and After Burner which most people are familiar with.
Unfortunately the system hardware for the Mega Drive and Genesis wasn’t able to handle sprite-scaling, so a compromise had to be made where each enemy and part of the landscape was pre-rendered at different sizes to give a similar illusion. This resulted in the projectiles being harder to avoid and the game looking a little bit choppy, but for the time this was forgivable and still much more impressive than any of the ports of the original game on other systems.
Visually, Space Harrier 2 holds up pretty well to its arcade predecessor, keeping with the surreal, psychedelic, space greek-inspired theme (I can’t quite think how else I could describe it). There’s a fair amount of familiarity with enough new enemies and bosses to keep it interesting over the 12 stages which you can play in any order, followed by an added final stage if you can complete them all. Something I’ve never been able to achieve due to its high difficulty.
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