Planet Harriers is different from all other Space Harrier games, in that it has four selectable characters and is presented entirely in 3D. The players have health bars, and enemies can be locked onto similar to After Burner.
Utilizing the powerful Sega Hikaru hardware, it demonstrated advanced graphical capabilities, such as Phong shading, a long draw distance, particle effects, and many polygons and light sources on screen. At the time of its release in 2000, it was regarded as having the best video game graphics seen up until that time. It debuted at the Amusement Machine Show 2000, where it was the biggest crowd-pleaser. The game was a popular arcade hit in Japan.
Planet Harriers uses a twin seated cabinet, which allows for two players to play simultaneous single-player games, or a networked two-player game. Control is through a joystick with a missile and bullet trigger, and view-change and bomb buttons on the main panel. A player may select one of four characters; Glenn, X, Cory or Nick. Gameplay involves the character flying from an into-the-screen perspective, shooting oncoming enemies and missiles.
In a two player game, the two characters may 'dock' together in order to recover life.