I starting collecting arcade games at some point around 1994 with the purchase of a Nintendo Playchoice countertop from a local flea market. Like may of the games that have come and gone out of my collection over the years, I miss it very much. By the later part of the 90's I was attending vending machine auctions in North Carolina and Baltimore fairly regularly. From 1994-2001 my arcade collection was around 12-14 games, and it would become downsized to 5 at some point during 2003. In 2005 my marriage ended, and the remaining games would be sold. Although many of these games of my past collection had gone onto new homes (and I have no idea where they are today), a very special game stayed in the family even if not in my direct possession.
Space Harrier was released by Sega in late of 1985. I first played the game in what was probably the summer of 1986 while visiting my grandparents in Ocean City, Maryland. The 13 year old me was blown away by the (at the time) innovative 3-D style graphics. The music is also classic 80's Sega awesomeness, created by the legendary Sega composer Hiroshi Kawaguchi. The game was the design work of another Sega legend Yu Suzuki who also created other Sega classics such as Out Run and After Burner. I once blew over ten dollars to play the game from start to finish to the outrage of my grandmother, who then gave me a lecture on the value of money. The joke was on her however, it just made me love the game more.
Space Harrier did not enjoy the production run of other Sega 3-D games (using the then new Motorola 68000 processor) of the era, and explains the rather rare nature of the game today. I was able to get my Space Harrier fix via the Sega Master System version (which is pretty good considering the limitations of the system), and later with the excellent Space Harrier II for the Sega Genesis. Despite the low production of the arcade game, Space Harrier would continue to make appearances on multiple home consoles, computers, and even in the arcades with the sequel Planet Harriers.
I originally bought this game at auction for the whopping price of around $150 dollars in 1996. It was in worn but decent condition at the time, today it is in slightly worse shape but still working well. In 2005 (as mentioned above) due to my divorce, the last bits of my original collection was sold off except for this game. Space Harrier would stay with a family member (it was their favorite game) until earlier this year when they decided they didn't have a need for it anymore. Last month despite the current national lock down due to Corona, the game traveled from the East coast to the Northwest. Like an old friend, I was ecstatic to see it again.
The game at this point is in need of a top to bottom restoration. There is a good bit of cabinet damage on the bottom right of the machine. The game arrived with a dim monitor (covered in dust), a flaky controller, and a lot of dirt overall. Parts are impossible to find for this game, so this will be a long term and deep dive restoration for sure.
Oh and I haven't even mentioned the best part of this story, other than being reunited with this amazing game. This Space Harrier is the exact same one I played as a kid so many years ago at Playland in Ocean City, MD. You can check out the video below for a deeper dive into both my Space Harrier and the history of the game.