Tag Archives: NEC Avenue

Second chances: Fantasy Zone

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 DariusGradius 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

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PCE Review #1: Rainbow Islands

Game: Rainbow Islands
Genre: Platformer
Format: CD-ROM2
Developer: NEC Avenue
Publisher: NEC Avenue
Release date: 1993

Most platformers follow in Super Mario Bros’ hugely successful footsteps and scroll horizontally. Well, Fukio Mitsuji’s arcade classic–technically the first sequel to Bubble Bobble–turns that tried-and-true tradition on its head and scrolls vertically, much like those odd overworld sections of Kid Icarus that caused you to pull out your hair by the handful. (Or was that just me?) As much as I like that mythological Famicom Disk System title, though, it has nothing on Rainbow Islands, what with its titular arcs of light–which can be used as weapons and as platforms–shimmering, Wizard of Oz-esque soundtrack (i.e., the main theme sounds an awful lot like “Over the Rainbow“) and varied assortment of enemies and environments.

See also: Introducing: PCE Reviews

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Two down, two to go

Two months ago, I typed up a post (this one) in which I mentioned the four games at the top of my to-buy list: Gekisha Boy, Mizubaku Daibouken (aka Liquid Kids), Parasol Stars and Rainbow Islands.

Actually, the point of that post was to declare that I had acquired Mizubaku Daibouken, so I guess I should have said that it mentioned the three games at the top of my to-buy list.

Whatever. The point of this post: To gush about the fact that I’ve finally picked up a copy of Rainbow Islands.

Of all the games on the above-mentioned to-buy list, Rainbow Islands is, by far, my favorite. In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite games of all time–regardless of platform.

Unfortunately, my love for the game has yet to translate into anything approaching mastery of it. (Sad-but-true story: I can’t seem to get past the fifth stage.)

I’ll do my best to improve between now and when I (finally) buy the last two games on my famed to-buy list: Gekisha Boy and Parasol Stars.

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The wait is over

Issue three of PC Engine Gamer magazine is now on line. (Actually, it’s been on line since Dec. 2, but that’s neither here nor there.)

As you can probably tell by looking at its cover (below), this issue features an in-depth review of NEC Avenue’s port of Sega’s popular quarter-muncher, Out Run.

It also includes, among other articles, a review of Data East’s Override (a vertical shoot ’em up I’ve never heard of before now), an interview with homebrewer Aetherbyte and a hilarious “Final Countdown” column that discusses the 10 best shopkeepers in all of PC Engine-dom.

If all or even some of that sounds interesting to you, check out–at your leisure, of course–the latest issue of PC Engine Gamer here.

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