“Space Harrier” Turns 30 Years Old This Year

Ever stumble across this old favorite when researching classic arcade games for sale? Believe it or not, 2015 is Space Harrier’s 30th year of existence. The Sega game saw many subsequent releases and sequels and was ported to many other gaming systems. The original was one of the first games of the time period to forego the traditional side-scrolling game and allow the gamer to view play from behind the main character.

Game Play

Gamers control the “harrier,” a man with a red shirt and blue pants, with a joystick. The harrier flies through the backdrop and must shoot everything in his path, usually enemy creatures such as a one-eyed wooly mammoth or dragon. The harrier is also shot at by the enemy, so the gamer must duck and move quickly to avoid losing a life.

The game has 18 different levels and the harrier must face a final challenge from a boss at the conclusion of each, but must face extra enemies at the end of the fifth, twelfth and eighteenth levels.


Sega’s game developing mastermind Yu Suzuki designed Space Harrier using Sega’s “pseudo-3D sprite-scaling” technology. The game was one of the first arcades to showcase 16-bit graphics and paved the way for development of 3D games in the following decade. The game’s main theme song was composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi, a Sega legend who continues to work for the company to this day and developed scores to fit many of Suzuki and the company’s games, including After Burner, Out Run, Fantasy Zone and more.

Today, Space Harrier is a rare arcade machine find, but later versions such as Space Harrier II can be played on many systems including PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game has also been released for the Nintendo 3DS, the Wii and has also been ported to the Atari 8-bit computer. With research and dedication, you can revisit the old classic that may have consumed a large percentage of your stash of quarters beginning back in December 1985.