3D Space Harrier – Get Ready!

3D Space Harrier

I’m not a fan of 3D.  It’s an interesting concept… for a few minutes.  That probably sounds weird coming from a guy who loves his 3DS, but I bought the handheld because I knew the games would be awesome, not for its 3D capabilities.  I rarely ever turn up the 3D slider, and, when I do, it’s usually because I accidentally bumped it.  Keeping that in mind, I recently downloaded 3D Space Harrier from the 3DS eShop.  Not for the promise of a beloved classic coming to the third dimension, but because I’ve always been a huge fan of Space Harrier.  Throw in the fact that it was going to be a portable, arcade-perfect port, and you know I had some high expectations.  After playing through the game, I’m ecstatic to say 3D Space Harrier crushed my expectations, and, surprisingly, its 3D effects played a big part in that crushing.

Welcome to the Fantasy Zone!  GET READY!


Game: 3D Space Harrier

Console: 3DS

Developer: M2

Publisher: Sega

Release Year: 2013

“Space Harrier is a great game.  3D Space Harrier is Space Harrier; therefore, 3D Space Harrier is a great game.”


It’s simple logic, people.  I really can’t break it down any more than that for you.  I love Space Harrier and 3D Space Harrier, and you should, too!  But, for the love of God, don’t get 3D Space Harrier confused with Space Harrier 3-D, the original Space Harrier‘s shitty sequel on the Sega Master System with the shitty 3D glasses that made the game look like shit.

Space Harrier 3-D

 I bet the cartridge even tasted like shit.

Unlike the shit that was Shit Harrier 3-D, 3D Space Harrier is a fantastic game.  Sure, looking at the embedded trailer above pretty much shows all the game has to offer, but, to me, that’s not a bad thing.  The game is 18 levels of Harrier zooming forward while enemies and obstacles happen, and it’s your job to shoot and avoid them.  Simply put, there’s a beginning and an end to the game with some points to get in between – if you’re so inclined – and that’s it.  Though derivative, what the game lacks in gameplay variety it more then makes up for in bat-shit craziness, and isn’t that important, too?  I mean, what other game pits you up against fighter jets, wizards, aliens, dragons, mech suits, sentient boulders, and cyclopean wooly mammoths, all while flying around with a jetpack gun and rocking sweet blonde hair and a set of blue jeans and shades?  That’s right; only Space Harrier had the balls to shoot whatever!  And since it was the 80s, you better believe it all exploded!



Obviously, Space Harrier‘s fun, but it was also pretty revolutionary when it released to arcades in 1985 because its deluxe cabinet was very immersing.  Players could sit while they played the game and, as they moved the joystick to move their in-game character, the entire cabinet would move as well, simulating the direction Harrier was flying.  This was done by using a couple of motors, a wheel, a nut, and a shaft, which – besides being the sexiest sentence I’ve ever typed in my blog – is interesting because only until recently I was under the impression that the cabinet used hydraulics.  I honestly don’t care what kind of Black Magic Sega used to make the cabinet move as long as it kicked ass!  Which it totally did!

There was nary an uncrowded bowling alley or Chuck E. Cheese if they had one of these babies.

And that music!  Man, it takes me back!  There are only a few tracks in the game, but the Main Theme (which you heard in the above video) is the one you’ll hear the most.  There are other tracks you’ll hear during end-stage boss fights, but those are fleeting.  VERY fleeting.  Most bosses in Space Harrier can be taken out in mere seconds.  But it’s all good because 3D Space Harrier lets you listen to the game’s soundtrack in the Settings menu.  So you can rock out to your heart’s content!

But music isn’t the only thing 3D Space Harrier‘s Settings menu lets you tinker with.  Along with standard things like “Difficulty” and “Number of Lives,” you can also toggle on and off “Arcade Cabinet Noises” (whenever you shot your gun in the original cabinet, there was a very satisfying clicking noise that accompanied each shot) and “Moving Cabinet” (the top screen on the 3DS will tilt as if you were looking at the monitor in a moving cabinet).

Screen Size

Errbody in Fantasy Zone gettin’ tipsy…

The above picture isn’t the result of your drinking problem (though you should get that checked out), nor is the 3DS cocked to the side.  That’s a head-on screenshot.  What you see is the screen tilting as Harrier goes left, a result of toggling on the “Moving Cabinet” option.  And the border isn’t the 3DS.  In the Settings Menu, you can alter the “Screen Size,” creating a border that looks like you’re viewing a monitor deep within a cabinet.  All of these customizable options found in the Settings menu really help to recreate the deluxe cabinet experience I grew up with.  Granted, there was no way M2, the game’s developer, was going to exactly replicate that experience, but all the little details they added are more than enough to bring back all those fuzzy feelings I felt way back when, and I honestly can’t thank M2 enough for working so hard to simulate the deluxe cabinet.


Thank you, M2’s Naoki Horii and Sega’s Yosuke Okunari, for all the love you put in this game!  I’ll do my best not to make you the subject of any dick or fart jokes.

Though I’m not a fan of 3D, the tilting screen and deep-cabinet border only get better when you crank up that 3D slider.  I can say that the effect truly enhances 3D Space Harrier‘s gameplay and “feel.”  I’ve played through the game a few times now, and I can’t get enough of its 3D: the way it makes everything pop out at you as you zoom by, the way the deep-cabinet border makes you feel like you’re staring down into the monitor, the way those levels where you’re sandwiched between two checker-patterned surfaces blow my fucking mind!


If you value your soul, do not stare into the horizon…

There are 3 ways to move Harrier: The Circle Pad, the D-Pad, and the stylus.  Using the Circle Pad takes some getting used to because taking your thumb off the pad returns Harrier to the center of the screen.  If you don’t like that, use the D-Pad.  Lifting your thumb up doesn’t affect Harrier and he’ll stay put.  Lastly, the stylus moves Harrier to wherever you touch, and holding the stylus on the touch pad makes Harrier fire automatically, a wise design decision that would have greatly benefited another on-rails shooter for the 3DS…

Kid Icarus Stand

I can’t even make a funny caption.  The sight of this thing pisses me off too much.

What else can I say about 3D Space Harrier?  It’s an amazingly polished and entertaining love letter from M2 to Space Harrier and Sega fans, and it’s one of the only games I can think of that actually uses 3D effects in a way that makes the gaming experience better.  If you like shooters with a side order of campiness, or if you’re an 80s kid who remembers the deluxe cabinet and wants to relive those memories using the game’s unique settings, then I highly recommend this game.  M2 needs our support on this one, guys.  They did a wonderful job, and the industry needs to know we appreciate it.  I already downloaded my copy.  Have you?

Thanks for Your Playing!  What do you guys think about 3D in gaming?  Do you know of any ports that are actually better than their original game?  Hit me up in the comments!

Now, for your pleasure, here’s the bonus stage in Space Harrier, where Harrier gets to ride a dragon – Neverending Storystyle! – recklessly into trees in order to destroy them for points!  And, of course, the trees explode upon impact.  Because it’s the 80s, and FUCK TREES!

Bonus Stage



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