Space Harrier II was released by Sega for their Genesis system at it's JPN launch in 1988 (and in America likewise in 1989 -20 years ago - ulp!) Based on the popular arcade original, this was supposed to be one of the early titles to showcase the 16-Bit monster's raw power, blowing away the competition - how did it fare?
Compared to the preceding games available on the manufacturer's 8-Bit hardware, this was certainlya huge step-up. While still quite a departure from the raw power of the original arcade model (with tons of advanced scaling features), SHII still showcased a fancy graphical prowess not before seen on a home console. Everything was big, colorful, and intense to look at. The action moved fast, and the music - though quite goofy-sounding - was definitely not tinny like the Master System versions. A sharp, clear digitized voice sample prompted you to "Get Ready" each time you prepared to attack after losing a life.
The game itself is rather simple, always has been - you fly "into the screen" and shoot creatures, monsters and robots, taking down bosses at each round's end. No power-ups, just blast away with your standard cannon and avoid, avoid, avoid. Occasionally you'll strap onto a hoverboard and play through a bonus round (no death), but that is about all the variety you get, except for different variations in checkerboard colors..
Again, though this was impressive, it was still a shadow of the arcade. Though things looked nice and felt smooth, control-wise - the scaling effects were quite limited and in fact faked, so there was never any real feeling of "oh my God!" when first playing this new title on a new system, unlike say, F-Zero some years later upon first opening up a SNES. However, despite the drawback, the game remained fun and my friends and I were eager to see the game through. Personally, I believe I made it all the way to the last boss before eating it - my buddy Josh was made of stronger stuff than I, and he finished the whole thing that New Year's Eve as we waited for the ball to drop..