BY KYLE VAN DEN HEUVEL
Welcome to the Fantasy Zone, get ready (again)
The 1986 arcade game “Fantasy Zone” was one of the best games SEGA ever released in arcades. The game revolves around the sentient spaceship Opa-Opa and his journey to free his home “the Fantasy Zone” from alien invaders. Its cute and trippy visuals and amazing soundtrack made “Fantasy Zone” stand out as something unlike any other game. When it came time for its sequel to be made, the console-focused “Fantasy Zone II” did not fare as well as its older brother. However, in 2008, Sega made a retooling of “Fantasy Zone II” that made the game play much like the original but with several improvements. This retooling was exclusive to a Japanese-only compilation until now with the release of “3D Fantasy Zone II W” for the Nintendo 3DS.
“Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa” plays very similarly to the 1980 game “Defender” in which you pilot your ship around a 2D plane in order to destroy enemy bases. but with the addition of fighting a boss after all the bases are destroyed. The main difference between “Fantasy Zone II” and its sequel is the concept of “Light and Dark” worlds. Fighting the enemies in the “Dark World” pays out better rewards but is more perilous. The game also has features that make the game less difficult, like having power-up weapons act like a shield that can take one hit or having a special shop that sells speed-ups in the event of dying to a boss. The added 3D effects are subtle but give a nice sense of depth to the vibrant visuals.
The “W” of “3D Fantasy Zone II W” means “double” and is there because it also comes with a bonus game “Link Loop Land.” This is essentially an endless mode in which you keep on taking out bases and bosses until you die. This is a fun little diversion that is also a great way to earn money for the coin vault that is shared between the two games and is used to unlock bonuses to make the game easier.
If you like arcade shooters and have a Nintendo 3DS, missing out on “3D Fantasy Zone II W” would be a shame, as it is one of the best arcade shooters ever made. Also available is the just-as-excellent remake of the original game, “3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros.” Both games are available on the Nintendo eShop for $5.99.