That was a sprite, that was

Space Harrier 1 logo

INCREDULITY has been expressed at this game, especially in its original arcade form. The hydraulic version is the only arcade machine in which there is a very real danger of personal damage - falling off is no fun.

Contrary to popular belief, Space Harrier does have a plot although not a very good one. Apparently the fantasy zone have gone weird and need cleaning up. They always were a bit weird, but this time they really have had a serious wack attack.
Enormous things straight out of a deranged head rush towards you and it's a good idea to get rid off them asap. You see, it's either them or you. And since you paid for the pleasure, it's got to be them.

You are a small fair haired chap toting an enormous pulse laser held aloft by a powerful jetpack. Everything scrolls towards you in the manner of all recent Sega games, but at an unbelievable speed.
OK, some of the time all that's happening is the chequered landscape moving, but other times there are a lot of large sprites moving too quickly to see, let alone count.

Bits of the scenery don't give in to your luminous lentil laser and are also too high to fly over, so very fast flying out of the way is needed. At the end of each level huge guardians zoom about nastily doing their best to remove a life or six. These always have a weak spot - finding the technique is the difficult part.

The programmers have seen fit to include a mouse option, which is not quite as accurate as the joystick but much faster. Control can be switched between the two devices instantly, so it's possible to play certain parts of the game with the correct controller.

The first level, Moot, is really a test of control and memory. Everything can be shot but all the waves must be learnt or you'll lose a few of your nine lives.
The second level, Geeza, is best tackled low. Two-thirds of it can be handled without moving. Level three, Amak, needs fast, high flying and the double-headed dragon at the end is a real killer. From Ceciel - level 4 - things get harder. Forests of impenetrable pylons, rolling dodecahedrons, nasty big things and all.

The screen is overscanned so you really feel "in" the game. The sound effects and tunes have been lifted straight from the arcade machine, including the rambling, tuneless bits once you've run out of lives. The only bit they shouldn't have lifted is the appallingly sampled "Get Ready" at every new life. I've heard better on a Spectrum. Honestly.

The stereo is used to locate your player. If he moves to the left, the majority of the laser noise comes from the left speaker.
Maybe it's been done before, but it's a real cute touch. Actually, the arcade machine's sound wasn't all that great so I guess the programmers are just working to brief.

Amiga Space Harrier is the closest thing to the real machine. The speed and clarity of the sprites is totally astonishing and if the mouse option is used the main sprite moves too fast to follow. If you feel in need of an adrenal hotshot coupled with some senseless violence, the prescription is this game.

Space Harrier 1 logo

Price: £24.95

Space Harrier. The game that needs no introduction. And so what better excuse not to write one. It won the hearts and most of the pocket contents of millions of people everywhere when it made its debut as a chunk of coin-op hardware a couple of years back. You know why? Not because it was a particularly good game, which it is. Nor was it because of the 'never before seen the like of' 3D superfast graphics, which by some strange coincidence, it has. It was because SH was one of the first machine to have a bucking hydraulic seat.

Yet when it came to it, the only thing that really kept people coming back for more was the game itself. With that in mind, Elite have come up with the best conversion of SH I have yet seen, including Sega's own and that of the mighty PC engine.

Scroll along the chequered landscape avoiding all the indestructible items, shooting anything else which gets in your way including the end of level guardian. The only real difference between this and any other shoot 'em-up is that this is done in a second perspective person view, situated directly behind the main sprite.

As you rush forward through the incredibly quick scrolling landscape, various items attempt to block your way: Mysterious floating rocks, flying toadstools and weird flying monoliths. Then there are the enemy ships that fly on in waves, throw loads of flak at you and then fly off again. At the end of each level, you get a real nasty thing to get rid of, which normally has to be hit several times. On the first level you get to do battle with a huge dragon that swirls in and out of the foreground and has to be shot in the head. Level two has you battling huge monolith heads that need to be shot quite a bit. Further on in the game come two-headed dragons, and even two dragons at once.

I never really rated SH in the arcades. To me it was just Sega saying 'We've got a new, even faster 3D routing, and we're gonna use it'. However, SH on the Amiga is a masterpiece of programming. The scrolling is just as silky smooth as the arcade, and as for the update on the sprites themselves: Brilliant. Colour has been used really well, too.

Sound is good. Elite have successfully managed to take the original Space Harrier tune and jazzed it up a bit. All the in-game effects are there, as well as speech. SH has finally been converted perfectly. It looks good and thankfully it plays very well.

Space Harrier 1 logo

Elite, Amiga £19.99 disk

All over the globe, factories are falling into ruin, economies have fallen apart, interest rates are rising, the TV companies are out of business and (worst of all) milk production has come to a standstill. No more Shredded Wheat for you, mate.

So what's behind all this? A band of deadly, virus-like aliens which have infected every part of the planet with their horrible disease, that's what. Pretty nasty, huh? So absolutely, horrendously nasty, in fact, that the combined efforts of the army, the navy, the air force, the fire service, the police, Machomen and Postman Pat have been totally liquidised in their attempt to stop it.

Zzap's Nose

Just when you thought that the end of the world was nigh, when everybody thought it was OK to eat lots of cream cakes 'cos they were gonna die tomorrow anyway, a little speck became visible in the sky.

Was it a bird? Was it a helicopter? Was it a speck of chocolate on your glasses? Nope, da da daaaaaa - it was Space Harrier. Yeaaah!

With nothing but a laser and a jetpack to his name, he battles through waves of ugly looking aliens, dodges dangerous missiles, survives end-of-level tussles with great, big enormous fire-breathing dragons, tries to stop himself from splatting, slap bang into the nearest obstacles, get his eyebrows singed and still survives.

Some selfless guy, huh? Not really. He just couldn't face another day without three Shredded Wheat.

Gordon Houghton I'm not on a diet for nothing you know. If I keep off the doughnuts for long enough, I might actually manage to squeeze my porky loins into one of those snazzy arcade style hydraulic chairs. Then again, maybe I'll stick to the doughnuts and keep on playing the Amiga version because it's just as good. I'm really impressed at the way they haven't compromised on the full-screen scrolling and the breakneck speed of the 3D action. If you want a really fast-moving arcade conversion, get your grubby hands on this - it's a lot more fun than a poke in the eye with a pointed stick.
Kati Hamza Well, this is a lot better than shoving 50p into a hydraulic machine gadgi and dying three times before you've even had a chance to stick your bum on the chair. I reckon, if you're the sort of person who can't even stand losing 2p in the bubble gum machine, this is the conversion for you. Not only do you get all the entertainment value of brilliantly smooth full-screen scrolling, incredibly breathtaking and mega-fast action, you also get it for the price of 40 goes one of those fancy metal machines you have to wait ages to get a shot at. Bargain or what?