Space Harrier 3-D



Man, if the future is filled with giant eyeball overlords, count me out.



‘Sega Barf Bag’ also required.




GENRE: Shoot-em-up

RELEASE DATE: 02/29/88 – (JP), 07/88 – (US), 1988 – (EU)


Games are not your friends. They are, at best, neutral allies in the war against reality, and/or mere physical products with zero cognitive faculties whatsoever. Space Harrier 3-D is other. It is neither Switzerland nor mere product: it is your sworn enemy. It has seen the human race and what we are capable of and declared, “No. Mankind must feel pain.” While the game is ostensibly the console-only sequel to one of Sega’s most renowned arcade games of the 1980s, it is, in fact, a choppy brain melt of the highest order. Its attack is twofold. Physically, it seeks to prematurely blind you with flashes of distorted imagery, and mentally, it makes you question your taste for gaming in the first place.



You are Space Harrier 3-D‘s sworn enemy.*


You might think I’m joking or over-exaggerating. No. Space Harrier 3-D is a pile. I say that as someone who thought the first Master System game was average. The concept of Space Harrier – running/flying forward while shooting creepy enemies in a surreal pseudo 3-D zone of fantasy – I got nothin’ against. But after two Space Harrier releases in a short time span, it’s clear to me that the Master System can not handle this series.


Space Harrier 3D (UE) [!]-01

“Ah, there’s George Lucas. He’ll set me free from this nightmare.”


As a sequel, Space Harrier 3-D is comparable to “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” an incomprehensible mess that makes the first entry worse by comparison. Graphically, the game is like trying to view the original 3DS from an angle with the 3D turned up full blast. The framerate is atrocious. This is one of the slowest games I’ve ever played, and a rail shooter at that. Whether you’re playing a 2D horizontal/vertical shoot-em-up or a whatever-the-crap kind of 2-D/3-D shooter Space Harrier is supposed to be, shooters should equal fast-paced gameplay.


Everything is slow in this game, but strangely, enemies come at you faster than you can process. Your poor dumpy Space Harrier has to work hard to catch up at all times. I’ll admit, the original Space Harrier looked chunky and played slow on the Master System, but at least the game had a kind of momentum. Space Harrier 3-D makes the original look like Sonic the Hedgehog.


Space Harrier 3D (UE) [!]-02

That boss has quite the choppy ba-donk.


Now, perhaps you’re saying, what about the 3D effect? Perhaps all could be forgiven if the 3D was transcendent. No. The 3D glasses do not make Space Harrier 3-D a better game. Why? Because the three-dimensional effects do not fix the beleaguered framerate. In fact, if you’ve played faster 3-D games than this – Missile Defense 3-D, Zaxxon 3-D, hell, even Maze Hunter 3-D – the slow movements will be all the more jarring. Even if you play in 2D with the optional code, Space Harrier 3-D doesn’t speed up whatsoever.



Wake and bake for the Harrier, all day, every day, wooooooo*


If you wanted to take a more optimistic view than I, you could say that the slow framerate allows you to appreciate the 3-D effects more; that Space Harrier 3-D is less about gunning creatures and avoiding towers and buildings as quickly as you possibly can, and rather about enjoying the neat-o effects. Certainly the game’s difficulty seems to have been toned down from the original, so that’s a fair point. You might also say that enforcing true 3-D upon the Space Harrier series was the logical next step for a game that attempted to emulate three-dimensions with the Super Scaler arcade technology. Interesting. Alas, your optimistic viewpoints can not sway me. For I have already decided that, as Space Harrier 3-D hated me first, I now hate it. I can’t see it as anything other than a game of pure malevolence, a mistake that cast itself out of Sega’s loving bosom and into the pits of hell, before being sold to innocent, unsuspecting children.




*cheers and thanks to MobyGames for the screenshots

Posts created 353

13 thoughts on “Space Harrier 3-D

  1. Yes this game is a huge turd.
    I picked this up about 3-4 years after the system was gone from stores at a garage for sale for around $2.00. I got home and was very disappointed.

    I think the original one on the Master System was way better.
    Very sad game.

    Thanks for the review

  2. I take you didn’t enjoy this then !

    Sega is famed for it’s peripheral’s but thus far both the 3D glasses and the sports pad haven’t produced a single reason for having either.

  3. I sold my SMS to a friend to afford a Genesis. This is one of the first games he bought. I tried it and thought it was one of the worst games ever. Even the graphic style was just not very Space Harrier. And the frame rate was so low that it was basically unplayable. The 3D worked ok but it still didn’t make it playable. This really was a game too far on the SMS. From someone who loved the original on SMS, this was a huge turd. I’m glad I didn’t buy it. They made a 3D classics cart on the 3DS in Japan compiling all the exellent 3DS remasters in Japan. One of the bonuses exclusive to the cart that can’t be downloaded from the EShop is a 3DS 3D port of this game. I don’t know if they fixed the frame rate issues and cleaned it up like M2 usually does, but this is a like the least appealing exlusive game ever if you ask me. I imagine soon this year you will get to the true sequel, Space Harrier 2.

    1. You and I see eye to eye with this one. This game is just garbage.

      I’d be curious to find a review of the remastered SH3-D. Surely someone out there has written one!

  4. I am sure they wanted Space Harrier to be well represented in Sega Scope. I remember diving into this game after I got it and really feeling like the entire menagerie from the original had been replaced by rudimentary geometric shapes and flickery samurai armor. Ugh. What I wanted was a sequel covered new ground, not a shamble of lost junk. Terrible, yet I still have this in the attic like a disturbed offspring and wonder if I have the strength to ever set it free on anyone else in the world. Maybe I am doing the world a favor.

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