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Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1987 Also On: None

Oh yeah, this is what I’m talking about. Most people dread sequels because
they either tend to be absolute garbage or simply cash in on the qualities
of the original without really changing anything. Other times, they build on
the original and throw a ton of new features at you. The Castlevania series
is a good example of this, and luckily for us Master System fans, Fantasy
Zone II presents some of the finest updates I’ve seen in my entire life.
This is exactly what a sequel, and a great game, are supposed to be. It has
a few flaws, but it’s definitely worth looking for.

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If you want to see perhaps the finest example of what the SMS can do, here
it is right here. Incredible. Seeing this really makes the first game seem
quite tame in comparison. Of course, there’s a whole extra meg thrown in
here, but they’ve obviously used it to the fullest. Fantasy Zone II has some
of the most lush, beautiful, colorful and detailed graphics of any game from
this era. It could even stand for a 16 or even 32-bit title, it’s that good.
There is so much detail here it’s unreal and the range of colors is so vast
it makes you wonder what the programmers were doing on some other Master
System titles. The backgrounds have highly unique landmarks and design, as
well as a great suggestion of depth, somewhat absent from the first game.
The animations are smooth and there isn’t a bit of graphical slowdown
anywhere. The bosses are giant creatures with splendid detail and follow the
strange appearance that made this series so famous. Just perfect, doesn’t
get better than this when you consider system specs, time period and so
forth. Perfect.

Just as in the first game, the music and sound is really fitting here. It
has this quirky feeling to it that creates an excellent atmosphere and fits
the action very well. The themes sound programmed better than the first, so
it’s obvious they did as much as they could with Fantasy Zone II. No
problems here, straight perfect in my opinion. The music is catchy and
features a variety of melodies, much more than many 8-Bit era games.

If you’re familiar with the first title, it’s essentially
the same basic concept, which is somewhat disappointing, but not entirely
because they fixed a lot and added some things. For those of you that
aren’t familiar with the first, I’ll be brief. This is a shooting title,
but unlike other games from this genre, instead of playing on a continuously
moving horizontal or vertical playing field, you play on essentially what is
an endless loop. Imagine it going around the back of the television and
back again, that’s pretty much what it is. Thus, you can change direction
and go wherever you want, not just only to the right. They also threw in
separate sections for each level. In the first game, you blast all the
bases and that’s it. In this one, you sometimes have to warp through up to
five different sections depending on the level. This adds more bases and
more of an environment to fly around, but really it’s just like adding some
more of the same screen over and over again. Still, this greatly adds to
the difficulty and gives a bit more variety.

There are a few more features they improved on. First, the level shops,
where you buy your weapons with money you collect from defeating enemies,
are stationary. They don’t just appear at the start of each level and
disappear. There is always at least one on every level, just sitting there
for you to enter whenever you want. Thus, you can spend time saving up
money to get better weapons before fighting a boss, since now you have to
actually enter the boss’ warp before fighting them. In the first game,
after the last base is destroyed you just go straight to the boss, here you
now have the option to power-up before doing so. In addition, there are
hidden shops where you can buy more powerful weapons and even defense
shields, and some of these items do not have time limits and you can
continue using them as long as you want until you die. There are also a
number of secrets to find as well.

It doesn’t stop there though, there’s more. In the first game, one hit and
you’re done. Kind of got annoying now and then because sometimes you would
get hit by an enemy simply because the screen didn’t scroll fast enough so
you could see them coming. In Fantasy Zone II, you actually have a life bar
that can be upgraded to give you a number of hits. It doesn’t protect you
from direct contact with most enemies, but it does let you survive a ton of
shots when you get it upgraded. And, there are life potions you can buy or
find to refill it before a boss. The weapon list is more extensive with
some cool additions, but the tired-and-true guns from the first game are
still present. The bosses are somewhat harder in this title, but the
difficulty curve is much better. One of them really takes quite a bit of
practice, it’s this giant, spinning pillar with a menacing face on it that
spins faster and shoots faster as you fire at it, to give an example.
Overall the gameplay has really been improved on from the first game,
excellent job. The only problem I had with it is that Opa-Opa moves too
slow when you first start out or lose a life. In later levels this can lead
to complete failure because enemies move ten times faster than you. I’m
really not sure why they slowed you down, but it is quite noticeable.

The only problem I have with this game’s creativity is that it’s pretty much
the same format of the first Fantasy Zone, they just altered several
problems and added some new features. However, I also have to consider the
updated graphics, music and other additions. Considering that it looks a
lot different than the first, though it’s the same game in many respects, I
have to score fairly high regardless. Sequels don’t always have to be
something completely different, if they do the same thing essentially as
long as they do it better than the original it’s always a good thing, unless
the first game sucked. I therefore have to say that I think Fantasy Zone II
is quite a creative game. The series is so quirky and unique that
regardless if the sequel has similar themes, it’s still incredibly creative.

I’d definitely play this game in the future, even after beating it. It’s
very entertaining and will take several tries until you’re able to get to
the end. It has an excellent difficulty curve and plenty to come back to.
The game length is just right as well, not too long and not too short and
considering it should take a couple times to master it, you have plenty of
playing to look forward to. Excellent. The whole level warp thing adds
more time to the game overall, in comparison to Fantasy Zone, but generally
they have almost the same length. With the ability to save up money to go
to the shops as much as you want, that adds a bit too, but that’s only if
you decide to do it. I guarantee you’ll play this several times and come
back to it after you complete it.

In conclusion, Fantasy Zone II is one of the saddest examples of what
Nintendo did in the 8-Bit era. Their stranglehold on the market left the
poor Master System in the mire, with only a few people realizing the
potential and excellent library it possesses. Had a game like this received
the attention it deserved, it would have been a serious blow to the NES. I
say this a lot but this title is one of the best examples of this depravity.
Too harsh a word perhaps, but for the sake of the SMS try this title out,
you will certainly be impressed.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 9.1
Written by Stan Review Guide