Sequels, eh? What would life be like without them? Actually, I'll tell you what life would be like without them... It would be totally crap. Absolutely and totally crap. It wouldn't really be worth living at all.
Right, you see a wonderfully brilliant film for instance, it ends, erm, and that's it. What can you do? Well, you can always watch it again (if it's on video). And then you can watch it again. And then again. And then again. (Yes, we get the idea. Ed) But eventually you'll have had enough, and you're going to want something 'new' (but just as good). And it's the same with arcade games. Someone brings out something really excellent, you play it a trillion times, finish it and, erm, have to look for something else to get into. How annoying - especially as you've 'learnt the rules', as it were. This happened with Sega's Space Harrier and its rather wonderful Speccy counterpart. There you were one minute, blasting dragons by the dozen, and then suddenly, er, they were all dead. What I'm leading up to is this - here, at last, is a sequel to Space Harrier. And it's every bit as funky as the original.
First of all the scenario, but don't worry - it's quite a short one. Space Harrier (which basically means a futuristic sort of geezer with a jetpack on his back) has a quest, which is to rid the fantasy land (which is where he is) of the cruel tyranny imposed by the Dark Harrier (who's the super-mega-nasty at the end of the game). And that's it. Right. I'm off then. (Oi, come back! Ed)
Space Harrier II, like its prequel, is a viewed-from-behind pseudo-3D move-into-the-screen jobbie. You control the hero of the piece, Space Harrier (let's call him 'Space' for short, shall we?). 'Space', basically, has to zoom around all over the shop, avoiding the eight hundred thousand squillion enemy sprites which come hacking out of the screen at him. This is where Space's jetpack comes in very handy - it means he doesn't have to stick to being a pedestrian, his little legs running for all they're worth. Indeed no. He can take off and fly as well. This is quite often a good thing to do, as a lot of the floor detail scrolls at you with such speed that death is never far away. Mind you, things aren't really any easier when you're in the air, given the numbers of the enemy. To add to the panic, on some of the 12 levels there're also tall pillars to avoid. These items have to be, er, sidestepped.
At the end of each level there's the obligatory mega-nasty, each of which, it has to be said, is very nasty indeed - from a giant 'Go-Bot' type stompy-footed robot thingy to an absolutely ginormous jellyfish, which hops about and spews fireballs at you. After (or more probably if) you complete all the 12 levels, there's a sort of Level '12A' in which you take on each of the mega-nasties you've already seen in quick succession. Complete this and it's on to the final battle - with old Dark Harrier himself. What a nasty geezer he is. And hard to hit, too. He hops about as if he's got three litres of molten Bovril scrunged inside his underpants.
Oh, I forgot about the bonus rounds. These don't happen very often, but they're rather crucial. 'Space' jumps onto a jet-board and finds himself in a lump of action much the same as the main game. Only here points aren't just points. No, siree. In these bonus sections points make prizes. And guess what the prizes are? I'll tell you - they're extra lives. Yippee!
So there you have it. Space Harrier II is actually much the same to look at as its prequel, but the going is tougher and the mega-nasties are more 'mega'. Addictiveness is the name of the game - no gasp-inducing new graphics routines or anything like that - but if the first Space Harrier was right up your alley then this will be too. Of course, if you never saw the first Space Harrier then you'll be in for even more of a treat. (Until you finish the game that is, after which life will lose all meaning - see the first paragraph again.)
The sequel to Space Harrier. Not awe-inspiring, but hardly disappointing either. Frantic 3D shoot-'em-up action all the way.