Sega is back again with new additions to their SEGA AGES collection that will be launching this week on Nintendo Switch. For those who don’t know, the Sega Ages lineup is a collection of games from Sega’s classic back catalog that have been making their way to the Nintendo Switch. What has been great about these ports is that they have been handled by M2 who is well known for their excellent emulation. Up until now there have been eight of these released such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Gain Ground, Outrun and others. I got to recently play and review the two newest ones releasing this week bringing the total to ten in the lineup.
Space Harrier is the newest addition to the SEGA AGES lineup and as expected from M2 the emulation quality is excellent. Space Harrier was originally released in 1985 from a man you might he familiar with, Yu Suzuki. That’s right the man known for the Shenmue games such as the upcoming Shenmue III (can’t wait!) Space Harrier is basically a rail shooter where you play as a man named Harrier and have to fly around the screen with your jetpack and shoot monsters. Levels feature different environments that are full of obstacles you need to avoid and each stage features a boss fight at the end. The game isn’t easy and I died over and over while playing through it. You do have options to modify the difficulty and the amount of lives you start with though. There is also a new mode called Komainu Barrier Attack that gives you two dog like creatures that will protect you from objects in the levels. If you get hit by enemies though you’ll lose their protection for a period of time. You also get infinite retries in this mode which should allow anyone to make it to the end of the game so long as you don’t give up on trying.
For other options the game lets you modify screen size and how the screen is presented. You can opt for widescreen, standard screen, or play as if you are staring at the game running on an arcade cabinet. You can also use stage select to begin from any stage you want and there is a music player to listen to the rather good soundtrack. There is also an option to play in what is called “Joystick Mode” which just lets you hold a Joy-Con vertically as if you were holding an arcade stick. It’s a neat little touch but not my preferred way to play this that’s for sure. Online rankings are also included letting you see how you stack up to all of the other players around the world.
I never placed Space Harrier before playing it here and while I appreciate many things about it some other things I found a bit annoying. For instance, the viewpoint the game uses can make it difficult to see objects and enemies on the screen at times. Many times I died by running into something that I didn’t really have time to see. The shooting also didn’t feel as accurate as I would hope for this style of game. Still the art style of the game still holds up even in 2019 and it runs super smooth as well just as one would expect out of a product from M2.
Is Space Harrier on the Switch worth your time? Well it really depends on what you want out of it. It’s a competent rail shooter for sure but it’s not without issues. That said, if you enjoyed this back in the day and struggled with beating it then many of the new options included in this SEGA AGES release should make it possible for you to finish it now. It also looks good still and runs like a dream. I just didn’t find it to be as memorable as some of the other games in this lineup of classics.
*Sega Ages Space Harrier is out August 22 on Nintendo Switch. Reviewed on a Switch in both Docked and Handheld mode. Review copy provided by Sega for this review.