Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa - Arcade / Sega Master System / Famicom / MSX / Playstation 2 (1987)


Arcade Flyer


Sega Master System Cover


Fantasy Zone II (SMS)

Fantasy Zone II (the oddly tragic subtitle, "The Tears of Opa Opa", was dropped in the Western releases) is pretty much more of the same, with one major difference - each level is broken down into several subsections that you switch between by running into warp points. The earlier stages have three sections, with later stages having five or more. This is actually extremely aggravating, because there's no radar, so you tend to wander aimlessly until you find some enemy generators to kill, and then stumble upon to the warp point that'll take you to the boss. The upside is that you can visit the shop any time you want, instead of waiting for the balloon to drop down. The downside is that there's only one shop per stage, so you'll be extremely underpowered until you find it. There's also a Power Meter, allowing you to absorb more than one bullet before dying, although directly colliding with foes will still kill you instantly until you find some power-ups to extend it. All in all, the multiple sections are more tedious than fun, even if it does allow for an extremely large amount of backgrounds. The designs are even crazier than before, and show off some of the best graphics on the Sega Master System.

Still, that's kind of a major problem - while the graphics are great for the system, it's a huge step down from the arcades. There's a ton of slowdown and flickering too, and it's almost ruthless difficult. Furthermore, the music is a chirpy, terrible mess, which is especially a shame after the original's catchy tunes. The FM synth soundtrack in the Japanese version is a bit more listenable, but it's still far from great. Fantasy Zone II was also released in the arcades, although it's practically identical to the Sega Master/Mark III version. The only major difference is that it replaces the "Power" meter with a radar. However, even though it shows the locations of the pods, it doesn't highlight where you are. Each level is also timed, with a little "life" indicator that counts slowly down to zero. Fantasy Zone II also got a Famicom port, which is, naturally, quite inferior to the Master System version in every aspect, with terrible graphics, even worse music, and constant slowdown. The MSX2 version looks OK, but the system just wasn't made the scrolling shoot-em-ups, and is still pretty choppy.

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Cholacoray

Fantasy Zone II (SMS)

Fantasy Zone II (SMS)

Fantasy Zone II (SMS)

Screenshot Comparisons

SMS

NES

MSX

Fantasy Zone II DX: The Tears of Opa Opa - Playstation 2 (2008)

Fantasy Zone II DX

Fantasy Zone II DX

Fantasy Zone II DX

The real treat of the collection is dubbed "Fantasy Zone II DX". Way back in the late 80s, Sega created Fantasy Zone II, but instead of continuing with their brilliant System-16 arcade board, they designed it for the Mark III/Master System hardware, which was a considerable downgrade. As a result, the sequel wasn't nearly as impressive as its predecessor. Fantasy Zone II DX is a remake, but it's not any old remake - it marks a beginning of a trend, similar to Retro Game Challenge/Game Center CX and Mega Man 9, of creating new games using retro style graphics. Rather than simply mimicing the retro style, the developers actually programmed the game for the old System 16 hardware. (They even burnt them on ROMs for use at some promotional events in Japan. As a result, it features an aesthetic style exactly like the original, except even more wacky and colorful. It's pretty amazing that they did this - it's like they looked at the Fantasy Zone series and said, "Hey, we know we let you guys down all those years ago, but now we're trying to make it right." And here it is.

In fact, Fantasy Zone II DX is less of a remake and more of a whole new game, slightly inspired by the original title. The big catch of Fantasy Zone II was the multiple levels within a given stage, each with a unique background, which you could transport between via warps. This has been rearranged to introduce a dual world concept - each level as "Bright" and "Dark" rendition, with different graphics and enemy patterns, and even tougher bosses. The Dark stages are so scary that you won't even find the standard Shop balloons (which pop out at the beginning of each stage/life as normal, so you don't need to hunt them down anymore), and need to scavenge for hidden shops to buy things. You technically never need to enter the Dark versions, but enemies give more money, and completing these stages is the only way to get the best ending. (There are three in total - in the bad one, where Opa Opa turns evil, it even references the Harrier and Uriah from Space Harrier as coming to destroy him, further tying together the two series.) Of course, in tightening up the levels, a lot of the crazier backgrounds from FZII had to be ditched, but the developers picked the best one and used that as a basis.

The rest of the game is even more inspired. If you take a hit with a weapon equipped, you'll actually lose the weapon but still survive, which makes things a little bit easier. All of the bosses are taken from the original Fantasy Zone II, they're not exactly new, but they've been changed so they're like older siblings of the bosses from the first Fantasy Zone. Each stage opens with a unique Engrish-y introduction text, similar to the one that displayed in the first level of the first game. The soundtrack technically consists of arranged music from FZII, but it's all been so heavily rearranged you can barely tell. It uses the same FM synth as the first game, and is provided by veteran shooter soundtrack writer Manabu Namiki (Metal Slug 6, Dodopachi Daioujou, many other Cave games.) There are more weapons this time around too, including the titular "Drop Tears", which are required for the best ending. You even get the option to buy speed enhancement after getting killed by a boss, fixing one of the most aggravating aspects of the series. It's actually incredible to believe, but this might actually be the best Fantasy Zone yet.

MP3s Download here

Cholacoray
Ganbatight ~ Ganbatighter

Fantasy Zone II DX

Fantasy Zone II DX

Fantasy Zone II DX

Fantasy Zone II DX

Screenshot Comparisons

Master System (Original)

Playstation 2 (IIDX)

Intro Texts

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