I know a lot of people who absolutely love Fantasy Zone. Until recently, though, I didn’t share their adoration of this arcade classic.
Oh, I wanted to. After all, it was made by the folks at Sega (always a positive in my book–well, as long as we’re talking pre-2002 Sega) and it’s chock-full of color. Also, I’ve always been fond of the game’s oddly named protagonist, a sentient spaceship who answers to Opa-Opa.
So, what’s kept me from lusting after this pastel-splashed shmup? Its controls were the biggest hurdle–in particular, Opa-Opa’s odd sense of gravity and momentum that takes some getting used to if you were brought up, as I was, on more traditional side-scrolling shoot ’em ups, like Darius, Gradius or R-Type.
Another control-centric issue that has long impeded my ability to accept Fantasy Zone into my heart: Dealing with the aforementioned issues while taking out the game’s thieving enemy forces is the definition of challenging.
A few weeks ago, after reading through The Brothers Duomazov’s review of the PC Engine version for what must have been the hundredth time, I decided to erase my previous opinions of the game from my memory and give it a second (maybe third) chance.
Although I’d be lying if I said this latest experience with Fantasy Zone was smooth sailing, er, flying, from the get-go, I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the title a lot more than I had in the past. Sure, I died a lot–I’m pretty sure I saw the “game over” screen too many times to count before I made it to the second stage–but I didn’t much care thanks to my newly minted appreciation of the game’s uniqueness (not to mention its odd, and other-worldly, assortment of environments and enemies).
Can it now be said that I, too, adore Fantasy Zone? Yes, I think it can. As for whether it also can be said that I’m any good at it, though, is another conversation entirely.
See also: Previous ‘second chances’ posts