Fantasy Zone: The Maze is a strange amalgamation of Fantasy Zone and Pac-Man. It’s a concept that actually works out quite well. Each of the game’s seven levels are patterned after stages from the original Fantasy Zone, and each consists of a small number of single screen mazes. A second player can control Upa-Upa, Opa-Opa’s brother.
Instead of dots, Opa-Opa gobbles up coins, which can be used to purchase items in the shops littered about. Although Opa-Opa is initially defenseless, you can grab an assortment of guns and lasers, as well as items similar to Pac-Man’s power pellets that make Opa-Opa invulnerable for a limited amount of time.
At the center of the screen is an enemy generator, which will continuously pump out enemies to replace any that you kill. Although these generators cannot be destroyed, you can glide over to reset their energy, thereby preventing further small enemies from appearing. Various score power-ups also occasionally appear, including Flicky, the bird from the Sega arcade game of the same name.
The Maze is an interesting game, but isn’t quite as fun as the proper entries in the series. The action isn’t nearly as hectic, and the panic felt in Pac-Man is mostly allayed thanks to the prevalence of weapons. Purely as a score attack game, though, it’s rather fun to challenge yourself to beat boards faster and get more points. The simultaneous two-player mode is a welcome addition too. And the renditions of the famous Fantasy Zone themes are much better than the original SMS port.
Like Fantasy Zone II, this game was developed for the Master System, but also for the Sega System E arcade board. Again, since this hardware is similar to the SMS, other than some slightly enhanced graphics and music, and altered stage layouts (the arcade version fits double the amount of coins in each level), they’re mostly the same.