Title: Fantasy Zone
Developer: Sega / Sunsoft
Publisher: Sega
Date Published: 1986
Platforms: Arcade (System 16-A board)*

*Ported to Sega Master System (1986), Nintendo Entertainment System (1987), TurboGrafx 16 (1988), Game Gear (1991), Sega Mega Drive/Genesis (as Super Fantasy Zone, 1992), Sega Saturn (1997), J2ME mobile phones (2002), and Sony PlayStation 2 (forthcoming, ETA 2003)

Fantasy Zone is a horizontally-scrolling shoot-'em-up which bears some similarity to Defender, with some additional complexity introduced to the gameplay. The game's graphics are represented in a day-glo, cartoon-like style. Each level is based on a different Dali-esque planet, where a horde of cute aliens have taken up residence. You must kill them.

The player controls Opa-Opa, an anthropomorphisized space ship (who could be some distant relation of Twinbee). If you were to place an egg on its side, and paint the bottom half green, the back of the top half red, and the front of the top half (the 'canopy') blue, and attached a small pair of angel's wings, you would not only attract some very strange looks, but you'd also have something that looked vaguely like Opa-Opa. Opa-Opa can fly all over the landscape (which wraps around, and scrolls both left and right), and when flown close to the ground, will sprout a small pair of orange legs.

As Opa-Opa flies around, waves of enemies in different formations will randomly enter from the left or right, with increasing frequency as the game goes on. Shooting (and bombing) enemies makes them drop coins, with larger coins (of greater value) being dropped if whole waves are taken out. On each level, the player must destroy a set number of static enemies commonly refered to as 'generators' (because squadrons of smaller enemies are intermittently spawned from them). The generators require a great deal of battering to be destroyed.

Once all the generators have been wiped out, the landscape fades to black and is replaced by a backdrop of a solid colour. A massive boss enemy then appears and attacks with a barrage of shots. For each boss the player must determine the weak point and concentrate their shots on it until the boss finally explodes in a shower of coins. Then it's off to the next level to repeat the process again.

The coins that are collected throughout the game can be put to use by flying Opa-Opa into a small 'shop' icon that occasionally appears. The shop provides upgrades to Opa-Opa's engines and arsenal, as well as extra lives. Weapons (such as the wide beam and the 7-way shot) only last for a limited number of shots.

The game was quite popular (as the number or subsequent ports attests) although the 'cute' content and comparitively unambitious design resulted in it never being ported to the home computers (as opposed to the games consoles) of the time. A sequel, Fantasy Zone II ('The Tears of Opa-Opa'), was released for the Sega Master System in 1987. Super Fantasy Zone for the Mega Drive was also a sequel (in pretty much the same way Super Metroid was a sequel to, rather than an enhanced version of, Metroid). There was also a game on the Sega Master System called Fantasy Zone: The Maze (Japanese title: Opa Opa) released in 1987, which wasn't a shoot-'em-up, instead being a Pac-Man clone with support for two simultaneous players.

Trivia The game Space Harrier, released by Sega the previous year, mentions that it is set in the 'Fantasy Zone', although it is unclear whether both games refer to the same place.

Opa-Opa also appears in the games Alex Kidd and The Lost Stars (as one of the emblems you have to collect), and Phantasy Star Online (as one of the 'mags'- floating helper characters that assist the player in combat).

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