If you, the reader, hasn’t already guesed, there’s going to be a perpetual 80’s theme to this website. (What can I say, I was born then and I totally love the way technology was changing at the time.) One of the biggest aspects of the 80’s was the local arcades that every shopping center and strip mall had across the United States. The flashing lights, the endless 8-bit bleeps and bloops signaling people obtaining the high score or losing a life, and the mammoth cabinets all called to children like a siren beaconing a ship to crash on its shore. (It’s sad that most of the future generations of children won’t experience this sense of wonderment.)
One game in particular that stood out in the arcades was a third-person rail shooter called Space Harrier. Space Harrier was a tour de force of sheer amazing. It was one of the first games to utilize 16-bit graphics, a pseudo-3D environment, and if your local arcade was lucky, it had the sit down cabinet that the chair bucked and moved with each touch of the controls. Your character had the ability to fly and you shot dragons, aliens, and prehistoric monsters. All this was mind blowing for a child like myself in the 80’s.
There has been many ports to Space Harrier over the years. In fact, a simple search will reveal a plethora of Flash versions of the game. When I stumbled across Escape From ’85, I figured it was going to be another Space Harrier port. I was right, it was another port, except the familiar sprite artwork of Space Harrier was replaced with a ton of 80’s references and the music was replaced by a kick ass 80’s infused rap soundtrack done by Spoek Mathambo.
Before we get things twisted, Escape From ’85 is Space Harrier. There’s no difference in the game play. However, what makes this game fun is that instead of using your dexterity to dodge columns, you dodge Michael Jacksons. Instead of shooting down a boss Chinese Dragon, you shoot down a flying Lionel Ritchie head with an ever growing Jheri Curl. You shoot down Deloreons while avoiding Robocop. (This is just scratching the surface. The 80’s references continue for days. Some are recognizable. Others, if you weren’t living in the 80’s then you won’t get them.) These elements do make the game fun and make you want to play, but the soundtrack is really what sets this apart from other Space Harrier ports.
Spoek Mathambo modern rap and 80’s infused style mysteriously works for this game. After I played Escape from ’85, I learned that the game was actually used as an extra bonus to his mixtape with the same name. This mixtape celebrates everything 80’s. Modern rappers of today should take lessons on how rap is made. The purist in me loved the music because of the easily recognizable and catchy samples. The futurist loved the music because Spoek’s flow is modern with just a small hint to what rappers are doing today.
Now the best part of both the game and the mixtape is that they are both free! You can play the game for free, and the mixtape can be downloaded from here. It’s worth every minute of your time.