The Elite Systems ports of Space Harrier (published by Mindscape in North America) are home computer conversions of the game intended for release in Western markets. They were released for the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum across 1986, with an IBM PC port released by Mindscape in 1989.
Elite had originally planned to go further by releasing copies for the aging Acorn Electron, BBC Micro (on both cassette and disk) and Commodore 16 computers - start-up instructions are mentioned in the C64, CPC and Spectrum manuals, but no physical copies of the game have been found. The Commodore 16 version was also extensively advertised, having been set to retail for £7.95 in the United Kingdom and L18,000 in Italy.
The home conversions were well received, making the game a runner-up in the category of "Game of the Year" at the 1986 Golden Joystick Awards.
Note: None of the Elite ports of Space Harrier include the bonus stages from the arcade.
The Amiga version of the game is mouse-only, complete with added auto-fire if the player holds down the mouse button. For reasons unknown, the "GET READY" sample has been re-recorded
Amstrad CPC version
On the Amstrad, Space Harrier uses "vector" graphics both for the sake of speed, and to avoid graphical overlap problems seen in other versions of the game. This version does not allow the player to shoot and destroy scenery such as trees. By the time the game reaches level five, it begins to deviate from the arcade original, failing to include some of the correct enemies and simplifying much of the scenery.
Atari ST version
Like the Amiga version, the ST version can only be played with the mouse, though this time suffers from noticeable slowdown whenever too many objects are on-screen. This is particularly apparent when a boss appears (likely peaking on stage 3's boss). The game also takes a considerable time to load - the player is forced to wait in limbo after a boss while the next level is loaded off the disk.
Unlike the arcade game, no stages have "ceilings". The game also runs in a smaller window than the Amiga version, with an added border on the right hand side.
Commodore 64 version
Elite rushed the Commodore 64 version to market in the UK against the wishes of programmer xxxx, leading to a product that, while fully playable, shows noticable signs of being unfinished. Improvements to the game were, however, put in place in time for launch in the US, with improved graphics and added floor animations missing in the UK version. Levels three and four of the UK version are swapped, and only six different levels exist in total.
ZX Spectrum version
While the Spectrum port is able to render the checkerboard flooring in full (unlike the CPC and Commodore 64 versions), there is no in-game music, and a lack of colours makes the game more difficult to see. Only a 48k version of the game was ever made - were an 128k version to exist, music would have likely been an option.