Ah, this one brings back some memories.
One of the less well known sideways scrolling shooters, fantasy zone is not only easy enough to finish, but pleasurable enough to make playing the whole game a warm experience, with only the odd moment of rage.
So, what’s the big deal, I hear you ask?
Well. Fact is, Fantasy Zone manages to do what very few shooters of this era ever managed to do – make each successive level and each successive boss more and more interesting.
This is fairly mainstream thinking nowadays, but back then, designers, especially designers of games like this, thought that making the game increasingly difficult was enough.
Read on…but beware, there are a few spoilers, as screenshots from the whole game are included.
The format of the game is unique and yet at the same time fairly standard. You have a level, then a boss, then a level, then a boss, and so on. But the icing on the cake is the shop.
This shop, to be precise:
The shop only appears at certain points in the game – and it bobs up and down like a yoyo maybe 4-5 times before vanishing up into the ceiling again. If you miss it, you’re doomed, frankly.
You use the shop to buy weapons and power ups, obviously, as the game really wouldn’t work if the shop was a mini IKEA with furniture and chopping boards. Humour aside. The best weapons are the laser beam and 7 way shot, along with the wide beam being 3rd choice. The best engine is probably the jet or turbo engine. Unless you have a death wish, the rocket engine is not recommended (except for one boss).
Destroy the bases (see pic above, 2 bases on screen with hands on them – the bases look different on each level, but aren’t hard to spot – honestly). Killing things gets you coins, that you can spend on stuff in the shop. Once all bases are destroyed you will instantly be transferred to the boss. That’s when you panic. Once the boss is dead, you have about 10 seconds to gather its coins and move on.
Early on in each level, the bases will dispense larger coins if destroyed, whereas later, smaller coins. So the aim is to dispose of as many bases in as short a time, to get the most money!
Watch out for bullets. Bullets are bad.
Each enemy has a pre-set path that it will follow. Some will turn and jump to the right, some will zig-zag, others will move in an arc. They will often move in formation and will usually shoot at the same part of their formation. Learn this.
Rewind doesn’t condone cheating. Except for this game. You wouldn’t have a hope of completing this game without cheating, frankly, so we’re going to help you out here. Do this. You’ll only get angry if you die on level 4 because you haven’t heeded our advice.
Sit through all the demo levels on the title screen. Doesn’t take long. On this screen:
Where the screen begins to scroll with the somewhat weak storyline, don’t be hypnotised by the music.
Instead, you want to be repeatedly and rapidly pressing up and down on your controller.
Just keep on doing it until the end of the scrolling story.
When you’re back at the main title screen again, start the game.
Don’t enter the shop. Avoid it at all costs. You need to first enter the shop when you have a LOT of money. This is ideally level 3. Yes, folks, this means you have to get all the way to level 3 before getting any weapons and stuff. Deal.
The cheat allows you to buy about 9 extra lives for 1000 erm, gold?, each. You will need those lives. No, really, you will.
OK here’s the line up of levels in fantasy zone. Don’t worry – the screenshots won’t spoil the game. You can still enjoy the music. Which is awesome, by the way.
Once you have fought your way through the levels above, you have the joy of the final “level”, which I will go into after the bosses.
As I mentioned, each of the above levels have a boss at the end. To leave some of the game as a mystery, I will only give you a couple.
By now you should really be getting an idea just how colourful the game really is.
At the end of ALL the shennanigans above, you have to do what I call “level 8″. In fact, it’s a rerun of all the bosses in order. The benefit though is that this time, you can enter she shop before you fight, after each time you die. This is where the cheat above really pays off.
Once you’ve killed all the bosses – I will leave you to experiment with the best weapons for each boss – they all have their own achilles heel – then you kill the final final boss. He’s nasty.
There is a way to defeat him. I’m going to be evil though, and keep that to myself. You can always ask.
It’s score time. Overall scores:
Graphics: 10/10. They couldn’t have done better. They really couldn’t.
Gameplay: 9/10. A little easy and it can be annoying having to replay all the levels after you die, but such is the nature of the 80s shooter.
Lastability: 7/10. Once completed – can you really face all that again?
Worth Playing? Yes – very. Take a couple of hours out and give it a go.