Space Harrier is a fast-paced rail shooter game played in a third-person perspective behind the protagonist, set in a surreal world composed of brightly colored landscapes adorned with checkerboard-style grounds and stationary objects such as trees or stone pillars. At the start of gameplay, players are greeted with a voice sample speaking “Welcome to the Fantasy Zone. Get ready!”, in addition to “You’re doing great!” with the successful completion of a stage.The title player character, simply named Harrier, navigates a continuous series of eighteen distinct stages while utilizing an underarm jet-propelled laser cannon that enables Harrier to simultaneously fly and shoot. The objective is simply to destroy all enemies—who range from prehistoric animals and Chinese dragons to flying robots, airborne geometric objects and alien pods—all while remaining in constant motion in order to dodge projectiles and immovable ground obstacles.
Fifteen of the game’s eighteen stages contain a boss at the end that must be killed in order to progress to the next level,while the eighteenth and final stage is a rush of seven past bosses encountered up to that point that appear individually and are identified by name on the bottom of the screen. The two other levels—the fifth and the twelfth—are bonus stages in which Harrier boards a massive, white cat-like dragon named Uriah who is invincible and maneuvered with the joystick to smash through landscape obstacles and collect bonus points. After all lives are lost, players have the option of continuing gameplay with the insertion of an extra coin. As Space Harrier has no storyline, after the completion of all stages, only “The End” is displayed before the game returns to the title screen and attract mode, regardless of how many of the player’s extra lives remain
The Amstrad CPC conversion was a dissapointment, the main sprite was good but all of the enemies were see through, which spoilt the game making it slightly difficult judging shooting the enemies. This obviously affected the gameplay bringing in a level of frustration.