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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.
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 stage. 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, 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. He can also move down to land on the ground by sprouting feet and walking around until he flies again.
It is possible to upgrade Opa-Opa's weapons, bombs and flying engine to increase speed, as well as get extra lives. Before that, the player must get money by defeating enemies, bases or bosses, and access a shop by touching a marked balloon. 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 Mark III/Master System. The game eventually saw ports in other consoles and home computers, such as the MSX, Famicom/NES, Sharp X68000 and PC Engine/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 they have left, 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.
- 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.
- One of the songs from this game is used as a Takeshi's Castle BGM.
- Fantasy Zone guide at StrategyWiki
- Fantasy Zone Series 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