Space Harrier

From Sega Retro

For home computer conversions, see Space Harrier (Elite Systems) and Space Harrier (Dempa).


Space Harrier Title.png
Space Harrier
System(s): Sega Hang-On hardware, Sega 32X, Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear, Nintendo Famicom, TurboGrafx-16, Virtual Console, Android
Publisher: Sega
Nintendo Entertainment System
Takara, TurbografX-16/PC Engine NEC Avenue (JP), NEC (US)
Genre: Shoot-'em-Up

Number of players: 1
Release Date RRP Code
1985-12[1][2] ¥?  ?
1986 $?  ?
1986 £?  ?
Nintendo Famicom
1989 ¥?  ?
PC Engine
1988-12-09 ¥?  ?
TurbografX-16/PC Engine US 1990 $? TGX040025
Sega Master System
¥5,500 G-1310
Sega Master System
$43.00[3] 7001
Sega Master System
£24.95[4][5] 7080
Sega Master System
?F 7080
Sega Master System
DM ? 7080
Sega Master System
?Ptas 7080
Sega Master System
$? ?
Sega Master System
₩? GB-2310
Sega Master System
NT$? G-1310

Sega Game Gear
¥3,500 G-3212
Sega Game Gear
$34.95[7] 2314
Sega Game Gear
£24.99[9]More...[10] 2314
Sega Game Gear
?F 2314
Sega Game Gear
DM ? 2314
Sega Game Gear
?Ptas 2314
Sega Game Gear
Sega Game Gear
R$? 013510
Sega Game Gear
₩? GH1010JG

Sega 32X
¥4,980 GM-4005
Sega 32X
$? 84505
Sega 32X
£? 84505-50
Sega 32X
?F 84505-50
Sega 32X
DM ? 84505-50
Sega 32X
?Ptas 84505-50
Sega 32X
? 84505

Wii Virtual Console
Wii Virtual Console
Wii Virtual Console
Wii Virtual Console
Wii Virtual Console
Wii Virtual Console
Google Android OS

Space Harrier (スペースハリアー) is an arcade shooter game, in a third-person rail shooter format, designed by Yu Suzuki. It was released by Sega in late 1985, for the Sega Space Harrier hardware (an upgrade of the Sega Hang-On hardware).


Space Harrier Saga Prologue

Once upon a time there existed a beautiful utopia located far, far beyond the most distant galaxy of the universe, called "Dragon Land".

It was a peaceful world brimming over with life and light. Then suddenly in the space year 6226, a dastardly scheme carefully orchestrated by the evil one was unleashed on this land which had once been a "Garden of Eden". Supernatural phenomena became rampant throughout the devastated planet and barbaric and evil creatures could literally be seen roaming everywhere. Although everything imaginable appeared to have been destroyed on Dragon Land, the only living thing that continued to resist the forces of evil was "Uriah", a friendly dragon. He was nearly at his wits' end in his unrelenting search for a savior, when lo and behold, a fighter from Earth with superhuman ability and physic powers heard his plea for help and arrived on the scene to help save the day.

Now, with the whole universe as your audience, a legendary battle that is surely destined to be passed down to future generations, is about to unfold.

Welcome to Fantasy Zone

Storyline taken from western (EU and US) version of Master System port which is shown after 4 attract demos at title screen.


Space Harrier is an early example of what has now been termed the "on-rails" shooter - one in which the game is played from a "third-person" perspective firing "into" the screen. This was not the first game of its kind - Sega themselves had experimented with the idea in Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom in 1982, however Space Harrier is thought to have been the first significant release in this new sub-genre, and in turn went on to inspire many games, Sega or otherwise, made since.

In Space Harrier the player controls "the Harrier", a blond-haired man with a jetpack who travels across eighteen stages in the "Fantasy Zone" shooting at enemies and objects while avoiding enemy fire and other hazards. Unless hit, the Harrier constantly travels into the screen - the player can move horizontally and vertically, but has no control over the speed travelling forwards, which is instead dictated by the game.

Despite its name, Space Harrier is not set in space - the Harrier is always able to traverse a stage on land, as well as utilising his jetpack to hover above it. The differences are purely aesthetical - the rate at which the player moves through a stage is constant, only occasionally slowing down during two threat-less bonus stages, 5 and 12, which sees the player rides a friendly dragon known as "Uriah" with the objective of destroying as much scenery as possible.

The objective of the game is simply to survive. Each non-bonus stage has its own boss, and the final stage sees the Harrier fight all of these bosses for a second time. Once this is done, the game loops, and will continue until the player runs out of lives and credits.

In its original arcade form, Space Harrier relies solely on an joystick and fire button. The joystick is analogue - one of the first seen in an arcade game, with the ability to register movement in any direction as well as measure the magnitude of the force. It was also designed to self-center if not in use, though many home conversions lack this. Furthermore the game is notable for its use of digitized speech and its sit-down arcade cabinets, whose motion is affected by the movement of the joystick. Both features were rare things to see in 1985, as was much of the Super Scaler technology used within the game itself.


Notavailable.svg Moot
Notavailable.svg Geeza
Notavailable.svg Amar
Notavailable.svg Ceiciel
Notavailable.svg Bonus Stage (1)
Notavailable.svg Olisis
Notavailable.svg Lucasia
Notavailable.svg Ida
Notavailable.svg Revi
Notavailable.svg Minia
Notavailable.svg Darms
Notavailable.svg Bonus Stage (2)
Notavailable.svg Drail
Notavailable.svg Asute
Notavailable.svg Visel
Notavailable.svg Natura
Notavailable.svg Nark
Notavailable.svg Absymbel



Space Harrier was conceived by Yu Suzuki relatively early in his career, at a time where the concept of shoot-'em-up games in 3D space were considered taboo. For much of the early 1980s, the technology simply did not exist to deliver satisfactory results for what Suzuki wanted - low screen resolutions of the era were thought to make enemies too small to hit, and as a result, Sega's earlier rail shooters SubRoc-3D and Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom saw limited success in arcades, while "tube shooters" such as Atari's Tempest and Konami's Gyruss heavily restricted movement and aiming.

Initial plans were to use military planes (or more specifically, the Harrier jump jet), but a lack of memory space for the graphics caused a shift towards science fiction. The decision to use an analog joystick over a digital joystick was because Suzuki felt it was better suited for a flying game and it gave the player greater control over pointing and shooting[25]. According to Suzuki, in order to counteract the above problem with aiming at small targets, the team created a "homing missile system like a real fighter aircraft and made it into an easy to hit shooting system".

Suzuki wanted to keep the game's appearance family-friendly. The game's fantasy world is largely a homage to the artist Roger Dean and the 1984 fantasy film The NeverEnding Story. The game also references the Gundam anime series with its robotic "Dom" enemies.

Due to its limited production time, the game's six bosses were created within three months, a distinctive boss every two weeks. Each boss was made up of at least eight or more sprites, which move in sequence. The game makes use of repeated sprites moving at high speed, as a way around technical memory limitations[26].

The game introduced a true analog flight stick for movement[27], with the ability to register movement in any direction as well as measure the degree of push, which could move the player character at different speeds depending on how far the stick is pushed in a certain direction.[28] It also featured a basic homing missile gameplay mechanic, and a full-motion cockpit cabinet[29]; its cockpit-shaped arcade cabinet moved in the direction the player moved the joystick.


Space Harrier became one of 1986's major chart hits in the arcades[30]. Its success established Suzuki as the leading arcade game designer at the time[27]. Space Harrier's arcade success led it to become one of the most ported Sega games in history. Sega themselves would handle Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear ports in 1986 and 1991, respectively, the Master System game in particular being a top seller for the console and one of the more accurate, readily available versions of its day.

NEC brought Space Harrier to the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 with Takara also bringing it to the Nintendo Famicom in 1989. Squaresoft's NES game The 3D Battles of WorldRunner is often considered to have been heavily inspired by Space Harrier also.

With the release of Space Harrier for the Sega 32X (originally known as Super Space Harrier during development) in 1994, the full arcade experience was finally available in the home. This was followed by the Sega Saturn release of Sega Ages Vol. 2 Space Harrier in 1996, and as part of multiple compilations since, including the Game Boy Advance's Sega Arcade Gallery, the PlayStation 2's Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 20: Space Harrier Complete Collection and the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360's Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection. A remake and port was also released in Japan under the Sega Ages 2500 as Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 4: Space Harrier, which came to the west as part of Sega Classics Collection.

The game was included as a minigame in both Shenmue and Shenmue II, and more recently the Master System version of the game was made available via the Wii's Virtual Console service in 2008, followed by a Virtual Console Arcade release a year later. It has also appeared on the Nintendo 3DS as 3D Space Harrier.

The game's basic homing missile mechanic was the basis for, and was superseded by, the lock-on system of Yu Suzuki's 1987 title After Burner, which was then adopted by later rail shooters such as Sega's Panzer Dragoon and Rez[31].

Space Harrier (and its sequels, beginning with 1988's Space Harrier 3D) are set in the "Fantasy Zone", the same setting as the arcade game with the same name. This relationship was explored further with the Sharp X68000 port of Fantasy Zone, which includes a Space Harrier level, and the cancelled TurboGrafx-16 title Space Fantasy Zone, which was a hybrid between the two games.


Master system version

Space Harrier was brought to the Sega Master System relatively early on in the console's lifespan and, as was customary for virtually all home ports of the game (and others from this era, such as OutRun and After Burner), the game uses pre-drawn graphic sets as opposed to scaling the sprites in real time. This leads to a "choppy" scaling effect as enemies and objects move into and out of the screen, as only a handful of sizes can be rendered.

Unlike the Master System version of OutRun, Space Harrier "cheats" in order to accommodate as many objects on screen while retaining the checkerboard floor (and ceiling). From a technical perspective, the enemies are not rendered as sprites, but as background tiles, and therefore cannot be layered on top of each other. The lack of transparency around the edges of objects causes the levels to look "blocky" - something particularly noticeable with bosses which in the arcade game, are often constructed of multiple sprites layered on top of each other.

32X version

On the 32X, Space Harrier is close to being arcade perfect, but suffers from frame rate drops when too many sprites are on-screen.

Production credits

32X version

Master System version

PC Unit
Source: In-game credits [32]

TurboGrafx-16 version

  • Main Programmer: T.Kurebayashi
  • Music Driver: Perfect Senoko
  • Music Editor: Nazo1 Ken Ken
  • Sound Effector: ROM Writer Nasu
  • Graphic Coding: T.Matsushima, T.Kurebayashi
  • Test Player: K.Tsuchida, A.Yamashita
  • Special thanks to: Daddy Naniwa, T.Tabeta
- Space Harrier - ©Sega 1986
Source: In-game credits (JP)

©Sega 1986/©NEC Avenue 1988
Source: Manual creditsMedia:Space Harrier PCE HuCard Manual.pdf[33]


Magazine articles

Main article: Space Harrier/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

SpaceHarrier Arcade JP Flyer.jpg

Arcade JP flyer

SpaceHarrier Arcade EU Flyer.pdf

Arcade EU flyer
Master System JP TV advert

ACE UK 06.pdfACE UK 06.pdf

Master System print advert in ACE (UK) #6: "March 1988" (1988-02-04)
also published in:
  • Computer & Video Games (UK) #77: "March 1988" (1988-02-15)[34]

HobbyConsolas ES 043.pdfHobbyConsolas ES 043.pdf

32X print advert in Hobby Consolas (ES) #43: "Abril 1995" (1995-xx-xx)

BeepMD JP 1992-01.pdfBeepMD JP 1992-01.pdf

Game Gear print advert in Beep! MegaDrive (JP) #1992-01: "January 1992" (1991-12-07)


Photo gallery

Physical scans

Arcade version

Arcade, World
SpaceHarrier Arcade US Marquee.jpg

Master System version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
78 №1, p71[35]
77 №4, p107[36]
92 №1, p62/63[37]
80 №2/24
90 1987-05-16
60 №1, p97[38]
82 №5
80 №23, p59
87 №6, p29[39]
80 №49, p106/107[40]
Sega Master System
Based on
13 reviews

Master System, US
Spaceharrier sms us cover.jpg
Spaceharrier sms us cart.jpg
Spaceharrier sms us manual.pdf
Master System, EU
"English" variant
SpaceHarrier SMS EU English Cover.jpg
Master System, EU
"No Limits" variant
Space Harrier SMS EU Box.jpg
Space Harrier SMS EU Cart.jpg
Master System, EU
® variant
SpaceHarrier SMS EU cover.jpg
Master System, JP
Space Harrier SMS JP Box Back.jpgNospine.pngSpace Harrier SMS JP Box Front.jpg
Spaceharrier sms jp cart.jpg
Master System, AU

Master System, TW

SpaceHarrier SMS TW cart.jpg
Master System, KR

32X version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
73 №1995-01, p24[41]
91 №, p82[42]
70 №41, p104[43]
32 №5, p118-121[44]
68 №312, p39
78 №69, p58[45]
56 №25, p62
55 №9, p13
72 №40
68 №2/95, p44[46]
82 №27, p30/31
35 №2/95, p105[47]
49 №29, p88/89[48]
60 №2, p93[12]
77 №51, p104[49]
83 №63, p58/59
43 №41, p67
67 №56, p27
71 №3, p86/87[50]
47 №2/95, p91[51]
60 №74, p65[52]
Sega 32X
Based on
21 reviews

32X, US
SpaceHarrier 32X US Box Back.jpgSpaceHarrier 32X US Box Front.jpg
Space Harrier 32X US Cart.jpg
Spaceharrier 32x us manual.pdf
32X, EU
SpaceHarrier 32X EU Box Back.jpgSpaceHarrier 32X EU Box Spine.jpgSpaceHarrier 32X EU Box Front.jpg
Space Harrier 32X EU Cart.jpg
32X, JP
SpaceHarrier 32X JP Box Back.jpgSpaceHarrier MD JP BoxSpine.jpgSpaceHarrier 32X JP Box Front.jpg
SpaceHarrier MD JP CartTop.jpg
Space Harrier 32X JP cart.jpg
Spaceharrier 32x jp manual.pdf
32X, Asia
SpaceHarrier 32X Asia Box Back.jpgSpaceHarrier 32X Asia Box Spine.jpgSpaceHarrier 32X AS Box Front.jpg
SpaceHarrier 32X Asia Cart.jpg

Game Gear version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
46 №125 (Go!), p8/9[53]
80 №29, p124[7]
79 №40, p155[54]
87 №3, p58[55]
90 №23, p144[56]
80 №17, p80[57]
86 №30, p47
71 №5, p59[9]
92 №3, p54[58]
92 №7, p78[59]
63 №6/92, p123[60]
Sega Game Gear
Based on
11 reviews

Game Gear, US
SpaceHarrier GG US Box Back.jpgNospine.pngSpaceHarrier GG US Box Front.jpg
Space Harrier GG EU Cart.jpg
Space Harrier GG US Manual.pdf
Game Gear, EU
SpaceHarrier GG EU Box Back.jpgNospine.pngSpaceHarrier GG EU Box Front.jpg
Space Harrier GG EU Cart.jpg
Game Gear, JP
SpaceHarrier GG JP Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngSpaceHarrier GG JP Box Front.jpg
Space Harrier GG JP Cart.jpg
Game Gear, BR
SpaceHarrier GG BR Box.jpg
Spaceharrier gg br cart.jpg
Spaceharrier gg br manual.pdf
Game Gear, KR
SpaceHarrier GG KR Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngSpaceHarrier GG KR Box Front.jpg
SpaceHarrier GG KR Cart.jpg

Famicom version

SpaceHarrier NES JP Box Spine.jpgSpaceHarrier NES JP Box Front.jpg
Space Harrier NES JP Cart.jpg

PC Engine version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
89 №90, p108[61]
58 №8, p16[62]
82 №3, p45[63]
PC Engine
Based on
3 reviews

TurboGrafx-16, US
SpaceHarrier TG16 US Box Back.jpgNospine.pngSpaceHarrier TG16 US Box Front.jpg
SpaceHarrier TG16 US Card.jpg
SpaceHarrier TG16 US Box Front JewelCase.jpg
Jewel Case
PC Engine, JP
Space Harrier PCE HuCard Back.jpgSpace Harrier PCE HuCard Spine.jpgSpaceHarrier PCE JP Box Front.jpg
Space Harrier PCE HuCard Card Back.jpgSpaceHarrier PCE JP Card.jpg
Space Harrier PCE HuCard Manual.pdf

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega 32X
CRC32 5CAC3587
MD5 4619E328E1719BEE165941D891C08D81
SHA-1 8B0495257FA5392EF9DDCC9C3BA1860AE58F4F3D
2MB Cartridge (EU)
Sega 32X
CRC32 86E7F989
MD5 6180E973F678BFC96705E8BE4E0783F1
SHA-1 F32A52A7082761982024E40291DBD962A835B231
2MB Cartridge (JP/US)
Sega Master System
CRC32 CA1D3752
MD5 DDE5D7A2694E6917BAFAB185594A267E
SHA-1 9E92D8E27FAD71635C71612E8BDD632D760F9A2D
256kB Cartridge (EU)
Sega Master System
MD5 B2E5047DF186AF7C02DA17F1B285AE4F
SHA-1 51BA2185A2B93957C1C51B0A2E2B80394463BED8
256kB Cartridge (JP/US)
Sega Game Gear
CRC32 600C15B3
MD5 CD3809B8D6D32144C45DE8E102623AA0
SHA-1 D00B8FF195D4423F2A344490EB34156017F4EE64
128kB Cartridge
Nintendo Entertainment System
CRC32 43539A3C
MD5 D1B84CD414F7A099ECC4B05569462F61
SHA-1 AEE6BB2338E71CC9390FBB845225C19E194CDD21
128kB Cartridge (JP)
PC Engine
CRC32 64580427
MD5 2C476453F2156C7AFE10B5ED1FA60955
512kB Card (JP)
PC Engine
CRC32 43B05EB8
MD5 B87ABA8FAAE39F238A8B2176DAEC96F4
SHA-1 948E6A5C30DCF945AB8332009AE4FA3AB231255A
512kB Card (US)

External links

  • Sega of Japan Virtual Console pages: Master System, Arcade
  • Nintendo catalogue pages: Virtual Console: US, UK; Virtual Console Arcade: US


  1. 1.0 1.1 (archived: 2009-03-31 06:43)
  3. File:CGW US 051.pdf, page 51
  4. File:ACE UK 16.pdf, page 167
  5. File:CVG UK 078.pdf, page 26
  6. File:CVG UK 073.pdf, page 132
  7. 7.0 7.1 File:GamePro US 029.pdf, page 126
  8. File:GamePro US 027.pdf, page 95
  9. 9.0 9.1 File:SegaPro UK 05.pdf, page 59
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sega Power, "July 1991" (UK; 1991-06-06), page 20
  11. File:Supergame BR 09.pdf, page 48
  12. 12.0 12.1 File:NextGeneration US 02.pdf, page 95
  13. File:CVG UK 157.pdf, page 139
  14. (archived: 2018-03-06 23:35)
  15. (archived: 2008-08-25 01:50)
  16. 16.0 16.1 (archived: 2010-11-22 22:51)
  17. 17.0 17.1 (archived: 2017-07-04 15:50)
  19. (archived: 2018-01-28 13:27)
  20. 20.0 20.1 (archived: 2010-11-22 22:48)
  21. 21.0 21.1 (archived: 2017-07-04 12:33)
  24. File:SpaceHarrier Arcade EU Flyer.pdf, page 4
  25. Retro Gamer, №145, p27
  26. Retro Gamer, №145, p24
  27. 27.0 27.1
  29. Retro Gamer, №145, p22
  30. File:SinclairUser UK 059.pdf, page 92
  31. Retro Gamer, №145, p28
  33. File:Space Harrier PCE HuCard Manual.pdf, page 7
  34. File:CVG UK 077.pdf, page 10
  35. File:CompleteGuideToConsoles UK 01.pdf, page 71
  36. File:CGtC UK 04.pdf, page 107
  37. File:TheGamesMachine IT 001.pdf, page 62
  38. File:PowerPlay DE 001.pdf, page 97
  39. File:SegaPro UK 06.pdf, page 29
  40. File:Tilt FR 049.pdf, page 106
  41. File:BeepMD_JP_1995-01.pdf, page 26
  42. File:SSM_JP_19950901_1995-09.pdf, page 84
  43. File:ConsolesPlus FR 041.pdf, page 104
  44. File:CDConsoles FR 05.pdf, page 118
  45. File:GamePro US 069.pdf, page 60
  46. File:MAN!AC DE 1995-02.pdf, page 44
  47. File:MegaFun DE 1995-02.pdf, page 105
  48. File:MeanMachinesSega29UK.pdf, page 88
  49. File:PlayerOne FR 051.pdf, page 100
  50. File:UltimateFutureGames UK 03.pdf, page 82
  51. File:VideoGames DE 1995-02.pdf, page 87
  52. File:VideoGames US 74.pdf, page 65
  53. File:Go UK 06.pdf, page 8
  54. File:Generation4 FR 040.pdf, page 155
  55. File:HobbyConsolas ES 003.pdf, page 50
  56. File:Joystick FR 023.pdf, page 144
  57. File:PlayerOne FR 017.pdf, page 80
  58. File:SegaForce UK 03.pdf, page 54
  59. File:SegaForceMega UK 07.pdf, page 78
  60. File:VideoGames DE 1992-06.pdf, page 121
  61. File:CVG UK 090.pdf, page 108
  62. File:EGM US 008.pdf, page 16
  63. File:Joystick FR 003.pdf, page 45
NEC Retro has more information related to Space Harrier.

Space Harrier
Space Harrier Title.png

Main page | Comparisons | Hidden content | Magazine articles | Region coding

Music: Space Harrier (2018)
Videos: Space Harrier (1987)

Space Harrier series
Space Harrier (JP home computers | Elite versions | Sega Ages Vol. 2 | 3D) (1986) | Space Harrier 3D (1988) | Space Harrier II (Electronic) (1988) | Planet Harriers (2001) | Typing Space Harrier (2002) | Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 4: Space Harrier (2003)
Yu Suzuki Produce Hang On/Space Harrier (1997) | Planet Harriers The Original Soundtrack (2001) | Space Harrier II: Space Harrier Complete Collection Original Soundtrack (2005)
Other Media
Space Harrier (video) (1987) | Space Harrier: White Dragon no Yuusha (1988)