Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Walk into any arcade these days and the first thing to catch your eye are the big cabinets with fancy hydraulic systems. Not just a gimmick to attract customers (honest!), they also give a new dimension to gameplay.
This all started back in the mid-’80s with Space Harrier from Sega (who else?), who’ve since become the most innovative arcade coin-op manufacturers. Believe it or not, you can now play Space Harrier on your humble Game Gear!
The most amazing thing about the arcade original was the fast scrolling and ‘shoot, shoot, then shoot some more’ gameplay. The idea’s no more original than any other shoot-‘em-up but the angle’s a new one: you run and fly straight ahead on a continuously scrolling play area while creatures of all descriptions fly at you. Armed only with a light phaser gun, you must kill EVERYTHING.
There are 12 stages, each with a BIG end-of-level guardian to kill. Levels four and eight are bonus stages, where you’re picked up and must ride the guardian, collecting items on the way. Stage I 12 puts you up against all the end-of-level baddies you’ve just fought (tough, eh?!).
I held severe doubts whether the Game Gear could handle a game like Space Harrier. I was wrong: GG Harrier is amazingly close to the original. The graphics look like they’re from a Mega Drive and the scrolling’s the speediest and smoothest ever seen. The creatures are colourful and move fast even when there are many objects onscreen. But gameplay’s where a game lives or dies and this is GREAT, loads of tough, fast shooting — the action never lets up. Anyone who lacks blasting action for their Game Gear should buy this straight away. In fact, so should everyone else!
Great action, great conversion, great game