Japanese Fantasy Zone arcade flyer
|Arcade system||Sega System 16A|
|Display||Raster, standard resolution
Fantasy Zone (ファンタジーゾーン Fantajī Zōn ) is a surreal arcade game released by Sega in 1986. It was later ported to a wide variety of consoles, including the Sega Master System. The player controls a sentient spaceship named Opa-Opa who fights nonsensical invader enemies in the titular group of planets, full of settings atypical of the traditional scrolling shooter and pastel colors. Opa-Opa is sometimes referred to as Sega's first mascot character. The game design and main character had many similarities to the earlier TwinBee, and together the games are credited with the creation of the "cute 'em up" subgenre.
In the space year 1422 (6216 in the Master System version), the Fantasy Zone was cast in panic at the collapse of the interplanetary monetary system. The Space Guild brings to light the plans of the planet Menon, whose forces are stealing the other planets' currencies to fund a huge fortress in the Fantasy Zone. Opa-Opa is sent to stop the invading army and discover who is behind it. In the end, it turns out that the leader was none other than Opa-Opa's long lost father, a revelation that leaves Opa-Opa with mixed emotions.
This is directly followed in Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa, which takes place ten years later.
In the game, the player's ship is placed in a level with a number of bases to destroy. When all the bases are gone, the stage boss appears, who must be defeated in order to move on to the next level. There are eight stages, and in all of them, except the final one, the scroll is not fixed; the player can move either left or right and the scroll follows him, though the stage loops. The final level consists of fighting again all previous bosses in succession and then facing the final one.
Opa-Opa uses two different attacks: the standard weapon (initially bullets) and bombs; the normal shot is generally useful though weak, while bombs are powerful though they only drop downwards. He can also move down to land on the ground by sprouting feet and walking around until he flies again.
In the game, it is possible to upgrade Opa-Opa's weapons, bombs and flying engine which makes him faster, as well as get extra lives. In order to do that, the player must first get money by defeating enemies, bases or bosses, and access a shop by touching a red balloon with the "Shop" word written on it. The screen later changes to a menu where the player, for a limited time, can select any item of choice. Each time a new item is bought, they become more expensive. When the player chooses to exit or the time runs up, another screen appears, in which he or she can select what upgrades Opa-Opa can use; only one engine, weapon and bomb can be equipped at a time.
Some of the new weapons have a time limit that starts as soon as the shop is left. Some of the bombs can be used at any moment, but they are limited. On the other hand, the engines are permanent, though some of these actually makes Opa-Opa hard to control, as he moves too fast. The powerups can also be re-assigned by reentering the shop or touch a balloon with the word "Select" written on it. If the player loses a life, all of the upgrades are lost.
Fantasy Zone was originally an arcade game. It was later ported to the Sega Master System. The game eventually saw ports in other consoles and home computers, such as the MSX, Famicom/NES, X68000 and TurboGrafx-16. While all of these ports play similarly to the original version, some of them have several omissions and changes. For instance, the Master System version lacks some features such as the radar that indicates the location of the bases or a gauge that indicates how much energy left they have, and two of the bosses were replaced by original ones. Other versions have several changes as well.
Fantasy Zone was later remade for the PlayStation 2, under the Sega Ages label. Although similar in appearance to the arcade version (even incorporating the original arcade sounds), this version used polygons instead of sprites and added some levels, including bonus levels in which the game takes the view behind Opa-Opa as he tries to collect coins from any boss that was defeated at the moment. The game mode is very similar to Space Harrier, or the unreleased Space Fantasy Zone. Also, even though "2UP" can be seen in the score display, this version only has a single player mode. This version was released in North America along other remade classic Sega titles in the compilation Sega Classics Collection.
On March 11, 2008, the Master System version saw a re-release in Japan for the Virtual Console. In Europe and Australia, it was released on April 11, 2008, and in North America, on April 14, 2008. In all territories, it was released at a price of 500 Wii Points.
On September 18 of the same year, Sega released another Sega Ages disc devoted to the series, title Fantasy Zone Complete Collection. This time, instead of a 3D remake, the disc compiled all of the games in the series, including spin-offs, and all of Sega's own ports. It also included a remake of Fantasy Zone II created for System 16 hardware. It was the final release in the Ages series.
The original arcade release is also included in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection.
- Arcade, 1986
- Sega Master System, 1986
- MSX, 1986
- Nintendo Famicom, 1987
- NEC PC Engine, 1988
- Nintendo Entertainment System, 1989
- Sharp X68000, 1989
- Sega Saturn (part of Sega Ages), 1997
- Windows95/98/Me (part of Sega Memorial Selection), 1998
- Mobile phone, 2002
- PlayStation 2 (part of Sega Classics Collection), 2003
- Wii Virtual Console (re-release of the Master System version), 2008
- PlayStation 2 (part of Sega Ages 2500), 2008
Other appearances in media 
- Opa-Opa appeared in the Japanese anime series called Zillion. The video-game Zillion that was based on this anime series was available on the Sega Master System console. This game also featured Opa-Opa, where it served as an item that boosted your character's abilities.
- One of the downloadable contents for Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast using its own Internet homepage was a new Kart Racing track named Fantasy Zone, a nod to the series. Omochao was also playable for this race, driving an Opa-Opa-shaped kart (which was the first and probably last time Omochao was ever playable in any Sonic game).
- One of the Gear in Sonic Riders is named the Opa-Opa, a reference to this game.
- In the Dreamcast game Shenmue, several capsule toys can be collected, including the Opa-opa, shop balloon and the stage 3 boss.
- In the arcade and Sega Master System versions of the game Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars, the goal of the second stage is to find Opa-Opa.
- In the Sound test screen for the Sega Master System adaptation of Quartet (arcade game), Opa-opa can be seen flying horizontally across the top of the screen. Teddy Boy, Pit Pot and Alex Kidd can be seen in this screen as well.
- Several of the enemies from Fantasy Zone II appear as attack waves for the final boss in the cult Dreamcast game Segagaga.
- In the Muppet Babies episode, It's Only a Pretendo, Baby Gonzo, Baby Animal, and Baby Miss Piggy were playing Fantasy Zone. During their imagination in Fantasy Zone, Gonzo and Piggy both fought over the controls to Opa-Opa, while Animal spotted an enemy approaching and destroying Opa-Opa.
- In Arcade Gamer Fubuki one of the challenges Fubuki had to do was get a higher score than the opponent in Fantasy Zone.
- Intentionally making over one hundred strokes in the Sega Genesis game Arnold Palmer's Tournament Golf allows the player to play a short, one-screen-long version of Fantasy Zone as an Easter egg, albeit one which continually loops until the console is either reset or turned off. The Opa-Opa also appears as a cursor in some selection screens within the game.
- Phantasy Star IV has a remix of "Pao-Pao" playing when a group of dancing girls come on a stage in the Hunters Guild in Aiedo.
- In Phantasy Star Online, Opa-Opa is a rare mag.
- In Phantasy Star Universe, Opa-Opa appears in one of the random attacks from the cast SUV "Ascension Gift".
- In Phantasy Star Portable, Opa-Opa is a rare RCSM.
- The game Space Harrier, also by Sega and released the previous year, supposedly takes place in "the Fantasy Zone" as well (Space Harrier begins the phrase "Welcome to the 'Fantasy Zone'! Get Ready!"). It includes the same bright pastel color scheme, although the game scrolls into the screen as opposed to horizontally.
- There is an entry in the series titled Space Fantasy Zone that was to have been officially released on the NEC PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) around the year 1990 that was to have finally bridged the gap between the Fantasy Zone series and the Space Harrier series by having a gameplay similar to Space Harrier, but have the layouts of the stages directly based on their Fantasy Zone counterparts. The game was never released through official channels because NEC Avenue developed the game without Sega's permission to use the Fantasy Zone property; when the game was finished, they contacted Sega, who promptly told them not to go any further with it. Although the game was never released in stores as a result, the game was eventually leaked anyway and is now widely available online in ISO format. A gameplay video of a prototype of the game was also found.
- In the arcade game Planet Harriers, Opa-Opa appears above the head of the killed player while being queried on whether to continue or not. Opa-Opa is also a playable character after enabling a certain code at the character select screen.
- In Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity 80's Blvd course a Fantasy Zone character appears on the first jump and gives out rings.
- Opa-Opa appears as a playable character in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
- During a video in Bayonetta (another Sega game) Bayonetta says "Welcome to my fantasy zone " just before starting a mini game sequence similar to Space Harrier.
- In the Sega Genesis/Megadrive version of motorcycle game Super Hang-On, the music from Fantasy Zone's Shop Balloon plays during the bike customization screen in Original Mode.
- Opa-Opa appears in Sega's Virtua Fighter 5 R and Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown as a Floating Clothing Item. He hovers around the character head in a circle formation.
- In Project X Zone, Ulala from Space Channel 5 summons Opa-Opa during her attack.
- Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa (1987)
- Opa Opa (Released internationally as Fantasy Zone: The Maze) (1987)
- Galactic Protector (1988)
- Space Fantasy Zone (1990, not officially released)
- Fantasy Zone Gear: The Adventures of Opa-Opa Jr. (released internationally as simply "Fantasy Zone") (1991)
- Super Fantasy Zone (1992)
Fantasy Zone proved to be very successful in Japanese arcades, helping to give rise to the popular System 16 arcade board. It was largely ignored by the gaming media, as were most arcade games at the time.
- "Fantasy Zone and Mega Turrican Now Available on Wii Shop Channel!". Nintendo of America. 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
- Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (August 1988). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (136): 76–81.
- Fantasy Zone guide at StrategyWiki
- Fantasy Zone at MobyGames
- Fantasy Zone A rather detailed website on the Fantasy Zone series
- Fantasy Zone at Hardcore Gaming 101
- The Fantasy Zone Sky" A website on the Fantasy Zone series
- Overview of the series