Fantasy Zone - Sega

Fantasy Zone

1986, Sega

Reviewed by Viper the Hedgehog.

It's quite a sad thing when someone passes up the opportunity to play a fun and challenging game due to it being cute and 'childish.' Fantasy Zone is one of these games. Hell, one glance down at the screen shots below will give you prime examples of the type of environments you'll be flying (and running) through: hyper cute, bizarre worlds filled with oddball characters and a rainbow of eye-pleasing colours; a far cry from the monochrome, cyberpunkish environments of R-Type. Underneath this adorable exterior, however, is an addictive and interesting game with a difficulty level that certainly gave this hardcore Gradius player a run for his money.

The story goes like this: deep in space, there is a strange dimension known as the Fantasy Zone, and in the space year of 1422, the Interplanetary Money System suffered from a very bad, very cute market crash. According to a Space Guild investigation, an unknown enemy is leading the Menon Planet Forces in an interstellar rape-and-pillage fest, stealing the money from all of the planets to construct a gigantic fortress in said Fantasy Zone. Enter our funky little hero, Opa-Opa. With a jet booster, a strong pair of little wings, an insane amount of ammo and a nippy pair of legs, Opa-Opa takes off to stop the Menon forces dead in their tracks. It might not be a tragic, emotional tour-de-force, but it gets the job done.

The player controls Opa-Opa with an eight-way joystick and two buttons, one for main weapons, one for bombs and super weapons. Each side-scrolling, free-roaming stage contains ten 'carrier' enemies which take a lot of punishment and release tiny, annoying enemies when Opa-Opa gets close to them. Also trying to stop you are swarms of normal enemies that take one shot to kill, and can get very numerous very quickly. To advance to the next stage, you must destroy all ten of the carrier enemies and defeat the end boss. This can be made fairly difficult by the scrolling of the screen, which requires Opa-Opa to be dangerously close to the edge for it to scroll at a reasonable speed. Then of course, there are the bullets. Oh dear God, the bullets. There a times in the later stages when I wonder if this is what being a spoon in a mass of peas is like.

But wait, there's more! You'll notice that carrier enemies and certain little enemies will drop coins of various sizes when they die. Once you've collected one or two, you'll see a SHOP balloon float down. This is one of Fantasy Zone's most interesting features. Touching this balloon and going into the shop will allow you to upgrade Opa-Opa's speed, firepower and defenses. Things like bigger wings and rocket engines will increase your speed, while lasers and wide beams help you take out enemies with greater ease. Why, you can even buy extra lives, although they do tend to get a bit pricey if you buy too many. It's not all good though. Most of the weapons either have a time limit, or one use only, so you'll definitely need to plan ahead in order to get the most out of your hard-earned cash. (How exactly a shop can function like this in the middle of a interplanetary depression, however, is beyond me. Chalk it up to that old Sega magic.)

The graphics in Fantasy Zone are very pleasing to the eye. You're going to be flying through lush green alien forests, delicious-looking deserts, and glorious fields with towering pillars covered in beautiful flora and sparkling waterfalls. If it weren't under siege, this would be a very nice place to live. The characters are very good-looking, too...well, as good-looking as flying marshmallows, mutant mosquitoes and really, really angry bricks can be. There are plenty of enemies in this game that only the special magic of an acid trip could help create. However, in my opinion, the sound is where Fantasy Zone really shines. This game runs on the classic Sega System 16 hardware, so the sound effects and especially the music have that pleasing old-style 'twang' that most of us love so well. I am not exaggerating when I say that this game has one of the most beautiful, spine-tinglingly excellent ending/high score tracks ever to grace an arcade. It's that good.

Fantasy Zone is a treat for any self-respecting gamer who isn't afraid to dig through a fairly large pile of cute to find a sweet, tasty, caramel-filled treat inside. From the beautiful settings, to the memorable music, to the original and unforgettable little hero, this game is a true underdog in every sense of the word. Absolutely worth playing despite its flaws.


...what the hell is that?

Here you can pretty much see what you're going to be looking at while playing. Each level has original and different enemies to fight, and also, they have a...


Meet the boss of Plaleaf: Tree Stump Who Can't Hold His Peas. He's harder when he's moving, believe me.



Edge Of Your Seat Stuff, Huh?

This is the short prologue that shows for approximately 100 milliseconds when you start a new game. For a full story that you can actually read, wait at the game to go through three play demos and it should show you.

He Burns With Very Cute Rage

This is the boss of Tabas, the second stage. After this, the game stops pulling its punches. Be prepared.


If there is one old game that could work as an adventure game, I'm pretty sure Fantasy Zone is it.


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie