Sega’s enthusiasm for the 3DS continues unabated, which means that gamers have another excellent port-with-extras from the technical wizards at M2 available on the Japanese eShop: the twenty eight year-old Fantasy Zone. As we've now come to expect, this 3D remake is a port of the arcade version of the game with incredible attention to detail; containing both the Japanese original and international versions of the game, sprite flicker when the screen gets overloaded with enemies and a neat optional visual effect that recreates the curvature of an old CRT TV. It’s a testament to M2’s porting prowess that features like these are almost expected of them now.
But what makes these 3DS re-releases exceptional isn’t just how accurately they recreate the original experience, but how well they integrate new modes and features into them too. Just as the likes of Galaxy Force II and After Burner II before it, Fantasy Zone has a wealth of options to tailor the game to your liking as well as offer a whole new way to play a game that’s almost thirty years old.
But before we discuss altering the game, it might be worth having a quick refresher of the standard way to play first. Fantasy Zone is a horizontally scrolling shoot ‘em up, although instead of being forced through the usual left-to-right scrolling Fantasy Zone lets you freely fly Opa-Opa in either direction through a small stage that endlessly loops. The object of the game isn't to destroy all enemies – something that’s not even possible with the infinitely respawning waves of baddies – but to seek out and then obliterate the enemy bases dotted throughout each level. Once these are destroyed a boss appears and the player must shoot at the weak point to blow up their screen-filling foe.
Unlike a lot of older shoot ‘em ups, power ups don’t drop from defeated enemies in Fantasy Zone — they drop coins instead. These coins are then used to buy power ups from a shop that occasionally floats into view — anything from speed ups and lasers to Fantasy Zone’s signature 16t weight as well as an always-welcome extra life, so long as you can afford it. With the exception of the speed boosts most power ups are either on a timer or have limited uses, and as all of these handy bonuses are erased when you die it pays to think before you buy.
If extra weaponry simply isn’t enough (and it might not be – underneath the brightly coloured visuals Fantasy Zone is at its core an old-school arcade game) or you just want to take it easy M2 have given players the option to change the default number of lives, difficulty and shot speed before starting a game, as well as the ability to start from any level previously reached, allowing gamers to practise a tough stage or just to replay their favourite. Coins accumulated in-game are added to an all-new coin stock which can used to unlock even more helpful options in the main menu as well as used to boost your starting pot of money if desired.
The greatest addition is saved for those with the skill to beat the game, and is also the reason behind the new “Opa-Opa Brothers” subtitle – Upa-Upa mode. You may be surprised to learn that a spaceship with feathery wings and feet has a brother, but it’s true. Upa-Upa stars in an all-new mode that does away with the power up shop completely and instead uses the lower screen to allow players to switch between weaponry at will – for a price. Upgraded shots are charged by the second and bombs per use making this an incredibly expensive way to play, but a welcome one that adds a fresh twist to a much-ported classic.
3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Brothers is in many ways business as usual for the talented folks at M2, which means that we have another excellent arcade port in the palms of our hands with some thoughtful extras that add to the original without ever tampering with what made it so compelling in the first place. Without doubt this game is essential for any 3DS-owning shoot ‘em up fan.
You will never need to own a PSBOX41 when you have a handheld chockablock full of awesome SEGA classics. M2 does what Sony & Microsofn't...
Make brilliant games
Beautiful, M2, just beautiful.
Is this available in the NA 3DS eShop? Sounds tempting...
I'd love to see these ported to the Wii U as well...
looks really interesting indeed, a side scrolling shoot'em up with a megnificent artstyle . . . SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!! ^^
@StarDust4Ever Not yet, this is the Japanese version.
It's too bad Nintendo isn't embracing this like Sega. I thought the touch-up to Kid Icarus was great and made the game a lot more enjoyable. I'd like lots of other 3D updates to classic Nintendo properties. I'd like to see stuff from Capcom/Konami/etc... too. A 3D port of the arcade version of Contra would sell gangbusters.
Oh good ol' Master System. Nostalgic!
Moreso than in previous gens, I am seeing a distinct lack of reasons to embrace next-gen consoles. The vast majority of the gaming experiences I'm excited about these days are on Vita and 3DS.
@Mommar I'd prefer a port of NES Contra. Better controls and level design and fans are still awaiting a re-release.
This looks awesome, will get day one. But are M2 doing any console games for this batch of 3D Classics? I was hoping for some Gunstar Heroes and Sonic 2.
Excellent work M2.
Will get when/if it comes outnin the states...
damn i can not wait for this. this was one of my favorite games when i was a kid. i had the nes version of it but it was basically the same. me and my brother played this for months and never got tired of it. the music is permanently etched into my brain. i will get this the second it comes to NA. i wish i knew when that was going to be. anybody know how long we have to wait?
When does this come out in the U.S.
@MAB glad to see more 3D classics, but I prefer M2's work on the PS3 with Neo-Geo Station, Sega Vintage Classics, and Capcom Arcade Cabinet. They look incredible at 1080p 1:1 pixel mode with emulated scanlines. Throw in online co-op, movie recording, music jukebox, trophies and you have a great bargain at $4.99/each.
I really wish Sega/M2 would release more games on the PS3 and in 3D. Super Hang-On looks awesome in stereoscopic 3D on a 50" HDTV!
The 3D Classics series is really great. I hope they move onto some of the Sonic the Hedgehog games and Gunstar Heroes.
@mch I prefer the sega master version to tell you the truth
I remember being able to play through this game easily on my SMS but I played it not long ago and found it quite tough. Will still likely get it though.
Odd that I'm super excited for this game to come out! Haven't played it in years. I wish Nintendo bothered to give as much love to their VC releases as Sega (and M2) does.
This is going to be so sweet....
Time for me to dust off my NES cart and play some Fantasy Zone!
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