Assessment: SEGA AGES Fantasy Zone – Traditional Cute-Em-Up Motion With A Nice New Mode

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Wager you don’t know who Sega’s mascot was for a short time through the ’80s. No, we’re not speaking about Alex Kidd – we imply Opa-Opa, the marginally weird residing spaceship from Sega’s oft-overlooked basic shooter Fantasy Zone. And that recreation is precisely what we have now right here, due to these gurus at Tokyo-based M2.

Fantasy Zone isn’t precisely unknown to these of us who love Sega, but it surely’s honest to say that the youngsters at present won’t be completely conversant in this one. Launched in response to a different basic shooter, Gradius, Fantasy Zone might look nothing like Konami’s basic at first look. Certainly, the jarring pastel colors chosen particularly to make the sport totally different to the quite a few different space-based blasters of the time might result in folks into not anticipating a shooter in any respect. That is Sega, although; it knew what it was doing, and injecting a little bit of trademark Sega ‘blue skies’ appeal turned out to be precisely what the style wanted. Together with Konami’s personal TwinBee, the ‘cute-em-up’ style was born.

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This isn’t a easy horizontal shooter although, in fact. As a substitute, this one is free-roaming, like Defender. You discover the realm from left-to-right-to-left destroying all of the bases scattered throughout the map whereas additionally taking down enemies and avoiding bullets as you’ll in every other shooter. As soon as all of the bases are annihilated, you progress on to the boss. Those that picked up the early Swap launch Swish Explosion Machine a number of years again will just about know what to anticipate when it comes to its non-linear construction.

At your disposal are your commonplace bullets in addition to bombs. Reasonably than choosing up new weapons and upgrades through the run of play – as in most shooters – gamers as a substitute go to outlets the place they will purchase new weapons in addition to improve their spaceship utilizing cash dropped by downed enemies. This mix makes the sport extraordinarily distinctive and much faraway from the house shooters of the time, and whereas the visible model is a bit bit extra ‘Marmite’, there’s no doubting its appeal and character.

What do you have to anticipate from the Swap model, then? Properly, these of you already conversant in M2’s earlier Sega Ages releases received’t be too shocked with what we have now right here. As you’d anticipate, you get the unique System 16 arcade recreation emulated to the same old excessive M2 commonplace of high quality, and this nonetheless performs completely positive. It’s the arcade recreation, albeit with the optionally available capability to pick phases as soon as accomplished. The star of the present, nevertheless, is the brand new Upa-Upa Mode. This shakes issues up by eliminating the weapons and improve store solely. As a substitute, gamers can freely swap between totally different weapons and bombs utilizing the shoulder buttons so long as they’ve picked up sufficient gold to unlock that individual weapon.

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Any issues that this would possibly make the sport too straightforward are dispelled by the truth that firing weapons now additionally makes use of gold per second, with extra highly effective weapons requiring extra gold to fireside. In follow, which means that a lot larger emphasis is now positioned on taking out the smaller enemies along with the bases to build up as a lot gold as doable. Precise ship upgrades are utilized earlier than you begin enjoying fairly than being selectable throughout play. Frankly, this mode makes the sport considerably extra gratifying and whereas it does finally make the sport simpler by having weapons obtainable always, the trade-off is that you’ve got far more alternative to mess with every part the sport has to supply. That is accompanied by a a lot simpler to grasp mini-map show displaying precisely the place every base will seem on the display screen fairly than merely their tough neighborhood (which is offered in Arcade Mode too, however solely when utilizing particular display screen modes).

Along with this can be a Time Assault Mode, which could sound a bit boring in contrast with the Upa-Upa Mode (and in equity, it’s not precisely as enjoyable), however M2 has carried out a good job of constructing this greater than a run-of-the-mill time assault providing. For starters, gamers don’t get factors on this mode in any respect. That is an intentional resolution to make coping with small fry utterly pointless (aside from for gold) and as a substitute power gamers to concentrate on taking down the bases as rapidly as doable. One good contact is that this mode information the precise time it takes to take down every base in addition to attain the boss, permitting you to concentrate on shaving off very important seconds. The essential gameplay is similar to Arcade Mode in all different areas, but it surely’s good to see a little bit of thought put into what’s in any other case a fairly commonplace mode.

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Apart from this, every part else right here must be fairly acquainted to those that have performed the opposite M2 Sega Ages releases. The standard display screen modes are right here, together with four:three in addition to full display screen 16:9 (for heathens), and whereas the essential smoothing filter isn’t to this reviewer’s tastes, the scanline filter is considerably higher than most. We advocate utilizing one of many ‘Regular’ display screen modes in transportable mode as this brings pretty, pixel-perfect integer scaling and appears wonderful even with scanlines.

Apart from that, we actually would have favored to see a few of the different residence ports included – particularly, the Grasp System recreation, but additionally Sunsoft’s Famicom model or the superb PC Engine port. M2 tends to concentrate on particular variations of video games, but it surely did break that rule by together with the Mega Drive port with Ichidant-R. The shortage of M2’s personal System 16 remake of Fantasy Zone II is telling on condition that they developed it themselves – it will be a secure wager to anticipate a Sega Ages: Fantasy Zone II launch sooner or later, with that hopefully together with the Grasp System recreation. We’ll should make do with the 3DS model till then, we guess.


Fantasy Zone is a captivating recreation which could not be as flashy as House Harrier or Out Run, however is true up there the place it issues: gameplay. It’s exhausting to advocate this over Shinobi, which additionally releases this week, however this can be a excellent addition for anyone remotely curious about all issues Sega.

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