3D Fantasy Zone (3DS) Review
- Colourful slice of retro action
- Significant challenge over 8 stages
- Brothers mode offers a serious challenge
Not so much?
- Repetitive of course and ultimately short lived
- 3D is a little off and adds nothing to the game, in fact it hinders it.
- Difficulty spike is massive
Sega appear to be getting these classic 3D updates to their titles just right at the moment with AfterBurner II getting a glowing report a few weeks back too. Fantasy Zone was unleashed on arcades way back in 1986 as part of a new wave of “cute” shooters. Stable mates like Twinbee managed to push […]
Sega appear to be getting these classic 3D updates to their titles just right at the moment with AfterBurner II getting a glowing report a few weeks back too.
Fantasy Zone was unleashed on arcades way back in 1986 as part of a new wave of “cute” shooters. Stable mates like Twinbee managed to push a more colourful look and cuter feel compared to the starker more space driven titles like R-Type, Defender, Salamander and such.
Hidden behind this seemingly bright and non-threatening exterior though beats the heart of a savage side scrolling shooter. With a truly rapid learning curve and grind-based upgrade system there is much at work beneath this fluffy exterior!
Over the course of the 8 stages of the game you will be tasked to clear certain “objects” from each level. A counter shows you how many you must clear as you fly in a loop from left to right or vice-versa. Think Defender or more recently Resogun.
Once you have dodged and shot your way through the level and cleared the number of objects required a boss showdown is triggered. In true shoot-em-up style these are static challenges with waves of missiles and bullets filling the screen as you dodge and return fire best you can. It’s the actual boss encounters that can prove the trickiest part of the game.
As you take down enemies they drop gold coins, each coin is worth a set amount depending on the importance of the enemy you killed to get it. Coins go in to a pot and you can use them to buy engine and weapon upgrades from the shop throughout the levels – represented by a balloon that drifts from the top of the screen. Any coins unused are placed in your main account at the end of each game amassing you a nice running total.
This is where the persistence and grind comes in because some of those upgrade are expensive as hell and the only way to afford them is to save over several rounds. Believe me some of those upgrades make one heck of a difference!
The other real kicker is the weapon upgrades are limited to a certain number of shots so use them sparingly. Want to buy another 7-way shot or beam laser? Sure no problem, only we’ve upped the price since you last visited! At every turn the game is trying to punish you and make you consider every choice carefully.
Auto fire (which can be toggled in speed) is a great addition for newcomers as is the ability to give yourself more starting lives and drop the difficulty down a little. That said the game is still a ferocious challenge and despite the 8 levels it’ll keep you occupied longer than you might think.
Completing the main game will unlock “brothers” mode. This mode has you play as main character Opa-Opa’s brother, Upa-Upa. Other changes include choosing what engine you want at the start of the game and all weapons are unlocked. Only downside is that firing those weapons depletes coins now. The game also manages to be significantly harder in this mode as well so only the truly dedicated or hard core Fantasy Zone fans need apply!
Visually the game looks bright and colourful as it always did. The reduced size and resolution of the 3DS screen allows these titles to still maintain a look that smooth and clear. The 3D, however, was a disappointment. The 3D in After Burner II was an absolute asset really bringing a new level to the game. In 3D Fantasy Zone, even on lower settings, it detracts from the game greatly.
I tried it on an older 3DS XL and a new3DS as well and both equally struggled to find a balance that was good to view and good to play at. The 3D levels in 3 or 4 distinct “switches”. As you move the slider you can physically see the 3D notch up in distinct levels, rather than a smooth progression. The lower settings are at least viewable and can be used for the earlier levels but as the difficulty increases there’s just not enough clarity. At higher levels things really shimmer and become incredibly hard to focus on.
Wonderful retro styling, bright colourful looks and a catchy title tune all blend to offer a wonderful package for the Fantasy Zone fan and shooter fan alike.
There are a few issues with the 3D and the difficulty levels are punishing in the later stages.
All told 3D Fantasy Zone is a great update that’s faithful to the original Sega Master System port and gets a little bonus in the punishing “Brothers” mode.