Sunday, June 28, 2009
Oh my god --- we are in the Fantasy Zone!!! If you've ever wondered what a Japanese 80s acid trip would feel like, look no further - this title blasted into the arcades, courtesy of Sega, in the middle of that decade, and landed promptly on their 8-bit home system, ported to their rival Nintendo (in Japan as well as domestically), and even dd some time on the PC-Engine/Turbografx-16 - I think it might've been a launch title for that system (in the US), or close enough, in 1989..
Sunsoft released an upgrade of it for the 16-Bit Genesis (Japan) - and those with a keen eye were able to find it tucked into a certain Genesis golfing launch title (check it out!) around the same time..
So, yeah, a weird game. Here's the lowdown, for the so-called "cute-'em-up" - you play a living ship, the Opa-Opa, who must destroy all the "bases" in a level, visible on your radar - you kinda fly back and forth, Defender-style, laying out enemies with your Vulcan and your bombs, kill all the bases and go toe-to-toe with a funky boss. The bosses in this game are, well, pretty wacky in their own right - each dripping with character, and all of them PISSED and hell-bent on your destruction. Good stuff.
Kill dudes, collect money, enter shops and buy power-ups, and that's pretty much the order of the day in this pastelly kill-fest. And that's all you really need to know. The graphics are goofy, charming, and definitely "touched" - the music is zany and bouncy (yep, zany is still a word!) and all the character designs are wild and just tweaked. It's a shame Sega was a relative no-name when this was released, the world of Fantasy Zone is one that could have done with some serious exploitation (to the tune of the Mushroom Kingdom) but instead it's just collecting dust on the shelf. Too bad, but then - maybe someone could still pick up the torch..
Fantasy Zone made it's mark and then faded away, it re-emerged in some pseudo-3D form on.. I am too lazy to research, was it PC-Engine CD-Rom or even Sega Saturn? In an unreleased form (I know, I know, here come the torches!) It doesn't matter, the thing never saw a proper release. The Sega Master System saw a Pac-man-ish psuedo sequel as well (on top of a "normal" sequel, if one could call anything Fantasy Zone related "normal"). All of these games are worth checking out. For my money, I am happy to hang with the TG-16 version, personally..
Not an easy game, not one that would be so lovable today, but still quite charming and worth a spot in any retrogamer's memory banks. Have at it!! Bring on the brightly-colored death from above...!! VIVA LE FANTASY ZONE!!!!
The hell with Phantasy Star.