Get ready... The Challenge at the Twenty-Fourth Mega Drive Championship will be...
Space Harrier II will be the game that English Mega Drive Championship contestants compete on in the Challenge competition this time around. One of the earliest games released upon the Mega Drive, the temptation was to run it like the Super Hang On Challenge at the 21st Tournament and have the highest score win, however, we endeavour to be as original as possible with Challenge competitions. So, members will be paired off and in a knockout and race each other with the first to cross a pre-determined check point qualifying to the next round. The year is 6236 and Harrier has received a call from help from the 214th sector, what hazards will await our brave members this year?
The first level Harrier faces is the grasslands of the Stauna Area: Dodge Bilkanries firing spearmint polos, run through forests destroying the obstrees (which behave exactly the same as real trees) until you come to the sub-boss Puti-Squilla a descendant of the Land of Dragons: the standard boss dodging technique will help defeat him - watch out for those spearmint polos! After Puti-Squilla, Harrier must face the three headed monstrosity of the Three-Headed Tortoise who guards the exit of the Stauna Area - attack the heads when he approaches the front of the screen, but watch out for the fireballs! Tournament members will not be required to battle in the Stauna Area.
Fors Yard is the second level of the game, on this mountain approach Harrier has to face the Barbarian enemy (another survivor from the Land of Dragons which resembles a cabbage) and impregnable columns, running into which will lose a life. The ante is upped from the Stauna Area and it is here tournament members will get their first bite of Challenge action. A sub-boss of a circle of cabbages/barbarians block access to the boss of Fors Yard - Paranoiazum, a purple witch surrounded by glowing orbs. Destroy the orbs and then the witch before she retreats from the battle.
Harrier now enters Yees Land a cavern of ice - the descent of the roof makes no difference to gameplay. Tournament members will not have to face Yees Land, which introduces a few new enemies, however, the level itself is quite easy. Rageref is a jellyfish creature which cannot hit you on the ground, Cyborgman is a clone of Harrier wearing dark clothes and shoots fireballs, Demon Toad shoots fireball and exits the screen on the ground, Starfish on poles are impossible to kill, but the clams on the ground can be destroyed. The boss is an ice dragon called Blizzard who fires spearmint polos on his approach and is easily defeated with standard boss technique.
Round Two of the Challenge shall begin in the futuristic city of Zero Polis we have got quite a fight on our hands! The action hots up here with the introduction of the Neo Dom robots and Ghost Armour enemy, Neo Dom's appears quickly, fire fast and exit at the front causing death if collided with. Erratically placed pylons are deadly obstacles in a level where the ante has clearly been upped. The boss is a circle of Neo Dom's firing electricity at Harrier, when they stop firing and move to the front of the screen they are vulnerable. Eventually the Neo-Doms will retreat if they are not destroyed.
The mountain range of Copper Hill awaits those who survive the ordeal of Zero Polis. Rows of columns block the path and Harrier must navigate between the gaps. The boss is Mantichora; an evil winged tiger! First destroy its wings and then the tiger will fall to the floor and rush at Harrier - this is the first time the standard boss technique will not work. Mantichora firing at the bottom of the screen as he rushes across. Be careful to dodge the boss when he comes to the front of the screen! Completing Copper Hill will end Round Two of the Challenge.
Stage six is the Fallpyram a desert city. Columns litter the landscape and Harrier faces ghost armour, Syura (a rock/cloud with a face) and Giddore (a bat winged demon), all content in hurling fireballs, in his quest to cross the burning sands. Unless there are less than eight-members at the Twenty-Fourth Tournament, Fallpyram will not be used. But if it is, members who reach the end will have to cope with the terror of the wizard boss which guards the route to Stage Seven. The boss conjures two doppelgangers of himself and while Harrier is wasting time attacking the invulnerable mirages, the wizard will unleash a volley of fireballs!
Carahdda is an ancient ruin and where Round Three of the Challenge will start. Like Yee's Land, the roof descends and the battle begins! Giddore (bat demons) and Syura (rock faces) are plentiful and there are sporadic columns for Harrier to dodge. Carahdda feels quite short and isn't overly difficult, although the action is quite steady. The boss is Medusa, who moves towards you in the shape of a snake with a woman’s head - she is invulnerable at this point - reaching the front of the screen you see the Gorgon's true form and then the battle begins. Firing an array of spearmint polos at Harrier, she is very much like Blizzard and standard boss technique will ensure she is despatched without effort.
Defeating the Medusa allows access to the forests of Monark an array of old favourite enemies return to fire spearmint polos at Harrier; the Bilkanry from Stauna Area, the Cabbage from Fors Yard and the sodding frogs from Yees Land make Monark a rather nostalgic level to battle through. The Neo Tmos enemy is a particular annoyance, they are orbs which open up to fire spearmint polos and are invincible when closed. The boss of Monark is a cluster of Neo Tmos who come spinning at Harrier firing polos, the boss retreats if not killed quickly enough. Finishing Monark ends Round Three of the Challenge.
The arctic wasteland of Felcold will not be in the Challenge. The roof drops for the third and final time in the game and with crabs ready to kill you on the floor, bilkanries firing electricity from the sky, Feldcold sees the game change from medium to hard difficulty as by the end of the stage Harrier will be dodging evil starfish trees, which are impossible to destroy. The boss Cragon, a giant jellyfish, is not that difficult, although his projectiles of small jellyfish are quite fast, effective standard boss technique will help avoid them. Cragon eventually comes to the front of the screen and then it is time to blast the hell out of him.
Hope City, a futuristic metropolis is the scene for stage ten. This is Zero Polis on steroids! Pylons have never loomed as large, they litter the landscape, and the Neo Dom's return with even more venom than before, a steady nerve will be required for those members who reach Hope City; the start of the final leg of the Challenge. Before the boss players will be assaulted by an array of electricity fighting bilkanries, destroying these early will maximise any chance of survival as electricity bolts, pylons and bilkanries all become deadly hazards. The boss is Binzbean a twenty-sided spaceship. He will rush at the screen twice, causing death if Harrier touches him, instead waiting until the third pass when the spaceship opens and a rapid bolt of electricity is fired. Binzbean is surprisingly weak, although he remains invulnerable until the third pass. Standard boss technique is destined to fail here!
Hell Peak places Harrier in the depths of a volcano as the Challenge will near its conclusion. The two finalists, should they negotiate the hazards of Hope City will need all their wits about them to survive. The bat demon Giddore is back and showing no mercy, as is a new type of Syura (rock face) which rushes towards Harrier causing death by collision, Barbarian (Death Cabbages) appears for one final outing and in greater numbers and Neo Tmos continue the attack. Littered with enemies and columns, this battle is not for the faint hearted, the boss is Rock-face and when he opens his mouth dive into one of the corners for he is about to split into four parts with contact causing death. After that he will dart around the screen firing; so switch to standard boss technique. When he comes to the front move in front of him and start firing, that is, until he opens his mouth... so the pattern repeats.
The Hot Palace is the final selectable level of the game and the final arena for our competitors. Struggling to hold onto precious lives is vital as cruel rows of columns, six abreast, act as huge barriers to progress. Ghost Armour and Giddore has an annoying habit of firing between the gaps, so be prepared for some rapid vertical movement. The final boss is Cthugha, a clone of stage threes Blizzard who fights in exactly the same way but faster and takes more punishment. Standard boss technique can slay this devil and bring a curtain on the Challenge for the Twenty-Fourth Tournament.
So, in summary, the levels our members shall battle across are:
Round One: Fors Yard
Round Two: Zero Polis and Copper Hill
Round Three: Carahdda and Monark
Final: Hope City, Hell Peak and Hot Palace
Of course, should a competitor lose all his lives before the round ends then he is eliminated from the Challenge.
Standard Boss Technique
The best way to dodge boss attacks is to move around the screen in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, since there are no obsticles to crash into, this will almost ensure safety. Some bosses can be attacked while performing the technique, other times Harrier must wait until the boss is vulnerable and then move to attack, before reverting to the technique when the boss resumes its attack. Here is a list as to when the move is effective.
Stauna Area: Yes
Fors Yard: Yes
Yees Land: Yes
Zero Polis: Yes
Copper Hill: For the first stage of the battle only
Hope City: No
Hell Peak: No
Hot Palace: Yes
Some Final Tips
Stay alive! Death is the quickest way to lose time, lose too many lives and you'll be out.
Dispatch enemies quickly! Once they are dead the next volley will arrive gaining Harrier valuable seconds.
Boss battles are key! Standard boss technique ensures that Harrier should avoid death, however, it is not necessarily the best form of attack.
Good luck and happy Harriering!!