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Fantasy Zone

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Fantasy Zone II
Fantasy Zone II DX

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Fantasy Zone: The Maze
Galactic Protector
Fantasy Zone Gear
Super Fantasy Zone
Space Fantasy Zone

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Fantasy Zone: The Maze / Opa-Opa (オパオパ) - Master System, Arcade, PlayStation 2 (1987)

Japanese Cover

American Cover

Fantasy Zone: The Maze is a strange amalgamation of Fantasy Zone and Pac-Man. It's a concept that actually works out quite well. Each of the game's seven levels are patterned after stages from the original Fantasy Zone, and each consists of a small number of single screen mazes.

Instead of dots, Opa-Opa gobbles up coins, which can be used to purchase items in the shops littered about. Although Opa-Opa is initially defenseless, you can grab an assortment of guns and lasers, as well as items similar to Pac-Man's power pellets that make Opa-Opa invulnerable for a limited amount of time.

Endless Waves

At the center of the screen is an enemy generator, which will continuously pump out enemies to replace any that you kill. Although these generators cannot be destroyed, you can glide over to reset their energy, thereby preventing further small enemies from appearing. Various score power-ups also occasionally appear, including Flicky, the bird from the Sega arcade game of the same name.

The Maze is an interesting game, but isn't quite as fun as the proper entries in the series. The action isn't nearly as hectic, and the panic felt in Pac-Man is mostly allayed thanks to the prevalence of weapons. Purely as a score attack game, though, it's rather fun to challenge yourself to beat boards faster and get more points. The simultaneous two-player mode is a welcome addition too. And the renditions of the famous Fantasy Zone themes are much better than the original SMS port.

Like Fantasy Zone II, this game was developed for the Master System, but also released in Japan for the Sega System E arcade board. Other than some slightly enhanced graphics and music, and altered stage layouts (the arcade version fits double the amount of coins in each level), they're mostly the same.

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Fantasy Zone: The Maze (Master System)

Fantasy Zone: The Maze (Master System)

Fantasy Zone: The Maze (Master System)


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Galactic Protector (ギャラクティックプロテクター) - Master System, PlayStation 2 (1988)

Cover

Galactic Protector is another spin-off that has little to do with Fantasy Zone, but features Opa-Opa in the starring role. Your task is to spin around the planet in the middle of the screen, firing at the pieces of debris that come floating across the screen. It's a tough job, but two players can play as once, with the second player taking on the role of Opa-Opa's blue colored brother Upa-Upa.

Your ships can only take one hit before being destroyed, but you need to make sure to protect the planet too. It can only take so many hits before blowing up, which instantly ends the game. The most amusing aspect is the range of facial expressions on the planets, which express emotions from "jolly" to "angry" to "extremely worried".

It's a bit simplistic, and some additional weapons would've greatly added to the variety. It's also pretty difficult, especially in single-player mode, so expect to see Earth blown up over and over again. It's also very light on content. Even though there are 25 stages, there are only three different planet graphics. The shattered wreckage of Opa-Opa on the Game Over screen is also quite depressing, though the picture of him enjoying a tropical vacation at the victory finale almost negates this dark image.

This game was only released in Japan and requires the use of the analog paddle controller. Some believe that this was meant to be released overseas under the name Cube Zone, given that the description on some Sega sales fliers seems to match the description of this game, but no other solid evidence has been found. Perhaps, like Woody Pop, it was planned but canceled when Sega decided not to release the paddle controller outside of Japan.

Other than hunting down the extremely rare paddle controller and buying a Mark III, the best way to play it is on the Fantasy Zone Complete Collection for the PS2. However, the analog control is still pretty fidgety and not quite the same thing.

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Galactic Protector (Master System)

Galactic Protector (Master System)

Galactic Protector (Master System)


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Fantasy Zone / Fantasy Zone Gear: Opa-Opa Jr. No Bōken (ファンタジーゾーンギア オパオパJr.の冒険) - Game Gear, PlayStation 2 (1991)

Japanese Cover

American Cover

Unlike most Game Gear ports, Fantasy Zone Gear isn't just a miniaturized version of the arcade/SMS game. Rather, it's a completely new game. It was developed by outside company Sanritsu, who collaborated with Sega on many other projects during the era.

Little Things Lost

Since the game was developed from the tiny Game Gear screen, Fantasy Zone Gear removes the status bar from the playing field, which means there's no radar, or even any indicator of your weapon ammunition. In spite of this, the game still feels rather cramped. From a technical standpoint, it feels poorly programmed, as the animation and movement is distressingly choppy. The controls are also a bit floatier than the other games, so it's way too easy to accidentally stumble straight into an enemy.

There are a handful of new weapons, like the homing shot, as well as an auto-fire option. You can also pause the game and select between your power-ups, which is handy. There are seven levels total, including the usual final boss rush, though none of them are named.

The visuals are fantastic too. While not as full of pastel colors as its predecessors, the backgrounds are much more detailed than the Sega Master System games. Additionally, the soundtrack is also relatively well done.

For what it is - a way to play a Fantasy Zone game on the go - Fantasy Zone Gear is decent enough, but its awkward controls and cramped screen reduce it to being one of the lesser titles of Sega's series.

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Fantasy Zone (Game Gear)

Fantasy Zone (Game Gear)

Fantasy Zone (Game Gear)


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Super Fantasy Zone - Mega Drive, PlayStation 2, Wii (1992)

Cover

Fantasy Zone II and Fantasy Zone Gear weren't bad by any means, but they both ran on hardware quite inferior to the original arcade game. Released in 1992, Super Fantasy Zone for the Genesis is the first true sequel that not only matches, but surpasses its predecessor in aesthetics, with gorgeous graphics and an insanely catchy soundtrack. It was developed by Sunsoft, who had previously worked on the Famicom port of the first game.

During the entire time that you play, you forget about the Genesis' limited 64-color palette and marvel at the pastel glory. The music is some of the best composed for the Genesis. The opening cinematic story tells a traumatic story, as Opa-Opa sets off to destroy the Menon empire to avenge his father's death. For the most part, the game is exactly the same as the original Fantasy Zone, just with new enemies and levels. These include Picknica, Kazarne, Niagro, Risscave, Grandiuss, Le-Picker, Aflouricious and Menone. There are a fair bit more weapons to buy this time around, including the incredibly useful four-way homing missiles. Also, special weapons (like the classic megaton weight) now have their own button, so you can save them for the right moment. There are certain "gimmick" items you can purchase for some stages. One level is completely cloaked in darkness, so you'll have a much easier time if you buy the headlights. Another has electrified floors, requiring that you purchase boots if you want to land on the ground.

Since this was developed specifically as a home console release, the difficulty is tuned so it's challenging without being frustrating, and the rapid fire option is most definitely welcome. Even the scrolling has been fixed so it's easier to see what's in front of your ship.

One of the coolest parts of the game is the tie-in with one of its Sega arcade brethren - the final stage has a checkerboard pattern on the floors and ceilings, an homage to Space Harrier. You can also enter a secret code that lets you play the game with the soundtrack from the original Fantasy Zone.

Unfortunately, the biggest travesty of Super Fantasy Zone is that it was never released in America, only in Japan and Europe. Regardless, the game defaults to English anyway if you're playing on an American Genesis.

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Super Fantasy Zone (Mega Drive)

Super Fantasy Zone (Mega Drive)

Super Fantasy Zone (Mega Drive)


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Space Fantasy Zone - PC Engine (unreleased)

Cover

Space Harrier and Fantasy Zone were always sort of related - both had cracked out character designs, both referenced the same world (the "Fantasy Zone", of course), even the high-score themes are similar. So someone took the natural step and combined them into one mega game, Space Fantasy Zone. All of the levels and bad guys are favorites taken from both games, and some of the Space Harrier baddies have been given cutesy makeovers.

The gameplay is exactly like Space Harrier, although you have a shield meter and only one life. Shooting enemies will give you gold, while taking out whole waves yields even more money. In between stages you can buy tons of different power-ups at a store cleverly named "Weponalds", including several kinds of speedups, power shots, extra weapons, shields, bombs, and options. You can also spend your time poking the chest of the store clerk, if you feel so inclined, or order a smile.

The graphics capture the pastels of the original game, although since the PC Engine can't handle scaling, the movement isn't as smooth as it could be - it's about on par with Space Harrier II for the Genesis. The main theme is a combination of the famous songs from both games, although the rest of the music, alas, is disappointingly banal.

Not For Consumption

It's fun, although a somewhat short game (only nine short stages, compared to the 18 of the Space Harrier). But the biggest tragedy? The game never saw an official release - it was on release lists, it was advertised (with designs by famous artist Satoshi Urushihara), but it was ultimately canned. No one knows why for sure. Thankfully, a beta version was leaked to the internet, so it can easily be played.

However, be careful of bootlegs being sold online. Some fans have created replications of what the package should have looked like had they been released, but these are not authentic.

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  • NEC Avenue

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Space Fantasy Zone (PC Engine)

Space Fantasy Zone (PC Engine)

Space Fantasy Zone (PC Engine)


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Related Articles


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Fantasy Zone

Page 2:
Fantasy Zone II
Fantasy Zone II DX

Page 3:
Fantasy Zone: The Maze
Galactic Protector
Fantasy Zone Gear
Super Fantasy Zone
Space Fantasy Zone

Back to the Index