Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Space Harrier needs to be remade

Classic games are getting remade left and right these days. In fact, this isn’t even a new trend—it’s been that way for at least a decade (Frogger for PSX, anyone?). I see no problem with this, assuming the game is good. The fans win, because they get a new game in the franchise. The n00bs win, because they get introduced to the wonderful franchise. The publisher wins, because the franchise’s built-in fanbase will buy the title, and new fans will be gained along the way. A lot of what was appealing back in the day is still appealing now. If it worked once, it can work again.

So, that said, I’d like to request that Sega consider beginning production on a Space Harrier remake. Yes, Space Harrier, the 1985 arcade game in which a red spandex-clad hero flies forward through the Fantasy Zone at high speeds while battling spaceships, floating volleyballs, and giant mechanical peanuts. It was absolutely awesome, and a real technological marvel at the time of its release. Weaving in-between iron poles at 90 miles per hour while shooting at one-eyed wooly mammoths is still a thrilling experience.

If done completely right, I think a remake could end up being Sega’s Halo. Well, maybe not quite that huge, but how about Sega’s Resistance: Fall of Man? It wouldn’t be a straightforward rail-based shooter, that’s way too limited to have a big audience. I’m thinking more along the lines of a third-person shooter with flight thrown into the mix, and some high-speed segments that harken back to the frantic nature of the old games. I think people underestimate how much fun jetpack-oriented gameplay can be. The last games I can think of that gave the player jetpacks at all times were the Tribes titles. And those were frigging awesome. The storyline would be a mix of epic space opera and Top Gun. I can just imagine the dialog between Space Harrier and his love interest (Space Harriet, duh) following a speedy race of some sort:

Harrier: “You’re pretty good… for a girl.”
Harriet: “Maybe next time I’ll let you win.”

I’m probably not the best person to write the dialog for the project, but you get where I’m going with this. Everything in this game, from the environments to the character design to the music would be just a bit over-the-top and exaggerated, with more of a bent towards fantasy than sci-fi. The villain will be Dark Harrier from Space Harrier II, who is ultimately revealed to be… Space Harrier’s brother. And in another obviously cliché bit, the wooly mammoths will be treated the same way they were in the film 10,00 B.C.—they’ll be enslaved!

Unfortunately, it seems that massive, epic, big-budget games not based on proven franchises aren’t en vogue these days. Were Sega to give Space Harrier the reboot treatment today, I get the feeling it might be received about as well as Golden Axe: Beast Rider or Altered Beast for PS2. Remember that one? No? It wasn’t released Stateside due to sucking. But if Sega got its shit together and did this franchise right, I’d certainly be down for another trip into the Fantasy Zone…

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