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Old 08-26-2019, 01:59 PM   #1
BeardedSonOfNel
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One Quarter One Play - Space Harrier


On this weeks One Quarter One Play I take on the iconic Space Harrier from Sega. So, click the headline to learn more about this awesome game, and see how well I do on one quarter with no practice sessions.

Oh, and you can get a great version of this game right now for your Nintendo Switch. Sega has launched its popular Sega Ages series to the Nintendo Switch. Ive been playing the Switch version for a couple of weeks now, and its fantastic. Thanks to Sega/M2 and Evil Avatar for the review copy!

Id also like to thank my oldest daughter Cecilia for creating the new intro graphic for this series. Ive even got an Evil Eye on my hat in the picture! Become a subscriber to the website and Im sure Evil will hook you up with your very own Evil Avatar patch!
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Old 08-26-2019, 01:59 PM   #2
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In December of 1985 Sega released the marvel known as Space Harrier. From a technological stand point Space Harrier did a lot of firsts. It’s one of the first arcade games to use 16-bit graphics, and scaled sprite technology, or more commonly known as Super Scaler technology. The game could also display a staggering 32,000 colors on screen, but I’m getting ahead of myself. More on the hardware in a bit.

In The Beginning
Space Harrier wasn’t originally going to be Space harrier. A designer at Sega named Ida originally wanted to create a realistic military game with the word “Harrier” in its title. The arcade hardware at the time didn’t have enough RAM to render the 3rd person view of the player’s controlled aircraft, so the game was retooled by Yu Suzuki.

Mr. Suzuki change the jet fighter in the game to a human. He did this because it required less RAM, to render on screen. The human character was easier to render on screen than a jet. (The jet would be seen from far more angles than the back of a human on screen.) Mr. Suzuki then rewrote the entire design document. He changed the setting of the game from a jet simulator to a science fiction setting. Mr. Suzuki says he took inspiration from the 1984 movie The Neverending Story, the anime series Space Cobra, and artist Roger Dean. He did leave the “Harrier” name in the title, and named one of the enemies “Ida” (a nice little nod to the original designer of the game.)

Yu Suzuki is a name I’m sure many Sega fanboys know. He is both a programmer, and hardware engineer. He headed Sega’s AM2 team for 18 years, and is credited on a number of arcade hits including Hang-On, Out Run, After Burner, Virtua Racing, and Virtua Fighter to name a few.

Mr. Suzuki also had a hand in designing the Sega Space Harrier, Model 1, Model 2, Model 3, Dreamcast, and NAMOMI hardware/system boards.

The music was composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi. Mr. Kawaguchi has done a lot of music for Sega over the years including Out Run, After Burner 1 and 2, and Sword of Vermilion.

Gameplay
Space Harrier is an on rails shooter that is very fast paced. Played in the 3rd person perspective, you control a character named Harrier. The game starts with a voice saying “Welcome to the Fantasy Zone”. It is believed that Space Harrier is unofficially connected to Sega’s 1986 arcade game Fantasy Zone. Many believe that both games take place in the same universe.

In the arcade version of the game you control the character using a self centering analog stick. Using the stick you can move the protagonist around the entire screen to both target, and dodge foes/environmental obstacles. The game is comprised of 18 stages, 15 of which have end bosses that you must beat to move on to the next stage. The game world is very colorful, and the sprite scaling is wonderful with sprites becoming very large.

Hardware
Space Harrier came in three different cabinets. The deluxe model was Sega’s first electro-mechanical motion cabinet. The cockpit of the cabinet tilted and rolled during play. Sega advertised it as a ("body sensation") arcade game. However, the deluxe model of the cabinet almost didn’t happen because Sega was concerned about the cost of producing it. Yu Suzuki, offered his salary as compensation if the game failed. Sega took his bet, and green lit the deluxe model (which did very well in the arcades).

The second model of the game was like the deluxe model, but had a simple chair. The third version was a stand up style, and the lowest cost version an arcade could buy.


The system board was known as the Space Harrier Hardware, and powered other games such as Enduro Racer, Hang-On, and Super Hang-on.

CPU:
  • Primary: 2 MC68000 @ 10 MHz
  • Secondary: Z80 @ 4 MHz (used to control the sound chips)
Sound chips:
  • Yamaha YM2151 @ 4 MHz & SegaPCM @ 15.625 kHz
Display:
  • Raster, standard resolution 320 x 224, horizontal orientation
  • 128 Sprites on screen at a time
  • 2 tile layers
  • 1 text layer
  • 1 sprite layer with hardware sprite zooming
  • 1 road layer
  • Translucent shadows

Finally
Here is my One Quarter One Play of Space Harrier.

Overall
Space Harrier is as fun to play today as it was in 1985. The graphics hold up surprisingly well, and I still think the audio is great. I love that Sega continues to publish this classic to current hardware, and the version I’ve been playing on the Nintendo Switch is fantastic! Developer M2 has done a great job of porting this game, and adding wide screen support. The sound and visuals are spot on! My only complaint (and this might be me just being dumb) is I can’t change the axis of the flight stick.

Switch Screen Shots



Images and information were gathered from...
wikipedia
System 16
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Old 08-27-2019, 02:31 AM   #3
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Everything's cool here, the game, the hardware, your article and your daughter's artwork! I can already tell she's having a good grip on things. Haha, are you trying to raise your own in-house game artist? How old is she, and is this just a hobby for her or she being serious?
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by RAV View Post
Everything's cool here, the game, the hardware, your article and your daughter's artwork! I can already tell she's having a good grip on things. Haha, are you trying to raise your own in-house game artist? How old is she, and is this just a hobby for her or she being serious?
Thanks man! She is 19 and is about to start an apprenticeship to become a tattoo artist.
Some other stuff of hers.
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:43 AM   #5
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I'm bummed because I've never got the chance to play the game in the deluxe cabinet. I've played the standard sit down, and the upright cabs.
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Old 08-27-2019, 07:12 AM   #6
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Special thanks to SEGA for providing us a Switch copy to use in the article this week!
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Old 08-27-2019, 11:24 AM   #7
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Special thanks to SEGA for providing us a Switch copy to use in the article this week!
Yes, A big Thanks to SEGA for the Nintendo Switch copy!!!
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:29 AM   #8
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Great article. This is one of those games that I remember playing a lot on the Master System (and then part 2 on Genesis) but only a couple of times in the arcade. So when I see the arcade version running, I'm always surprised at how good it looks as the home versions were valiant efforts but lacked the smoothness that really helped make this game shine. That sprite scaling they used was very cool tech for its time and still holds up today. I played the game again recently too. You lasted about 2 1/2 minutes longer than I did.
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Old 08-28-2019, 06:14 AM   #9
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Great article. This is one of those games that I remember playing a lot on the Master System (and then part 2 on Genesis) but only a couple of times in the arcade. So when I see the arcade version running, I'm always surprised at how good it looks as the home versions were valiant efforts but lacked the smoothness that really helped make this game shine. That sprite scaling they used was very cool tech for its time and still holds up today. I played the game again recently too. You lasted about 2 1/2 minutes longer than I did.
I owned the Master system version too as a kid, and played the heck out of it. I was so excited for the Genesis version and while good, you're right the arcade version is so smooth.

As for the play time of the video... If I hadn't been playing the Switch version over the last two weeks, I would have failed miserably
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