I absolutely did a double-take when I looked up the details of today’s Retro Game of the Day, Space Harrier. I thought there was actually a mistake in the listing of the game. This game was made in 1985. Nineteen eighty-five. This beautifully done, very 3d world with smooth, bright colors and solid gameplay. 1985. Sega were wizards back then, I tell you.
Space Harrier is, at its core, a shooter game, one that places the player view behind the player on screen, which can be moved around the screen freely, aiming and shooting “inward” at oncoming enemies and obstacles. Pretty standard stuff, except that it is a very early example of a really well done 3d environment (even though it’s all rendered as sprites, the calculations for the objects onscreen were done in 3d) and smooth gameplay.
Control was done on the arcade game with a flight stick, but mapping that to a mouse for home emulation works quite well and feels solid. A wonderful game that is worth experiencing.