Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
If there are any spaced-out hippies in the audience, this one's for you -we're talking surreal, man! Here's a quick run-down of the plot: the evil Menons are misappropriating alien funds to build up their forces. When they're strong enough, they plan to talk over the Fantasy Zone, with dire consequences - and I think you know what we're on about (waddya mean, 'no'?).
Well, anyway, you are Opa-Opa (sorry about the silly name, but you are an alien, after all), pilot of a small winged space ship. Your mission is to fly across all eight planets of the Fantasy Zone system, destroy the weirdo Menon creatures who are buzzing around, and collect the money that they drop (these guys are loaded!).
Now, you could put this money to good use - save up for a nice chalet on the banks of the Goomba river, or get yourself the new Sega Hyperdrive holographic games console. But noooo, you go straight to the nearest shop (well, the shop comes to you actually) and you blow it all on a new laser, you slaughterhead you. As well as upgraded weaponry, you can also get more powerful engines, supa-dupa bombs and extra lives - all for the good of the mission, of course...
As you fly over each whacky, pastel-coloured landscape, the scenery scrolls past in the background, and a number of weird alien bases slide into view. These have to be blown up before you can move on to the next planet. But, as if you hadn't guessed, there's a big meaty alien Boss with a grudge who needs teaching a lesson (well, killing) prior to any planet-hopping, so you'd better have bought the right weapons, hadn't you?
Shoot old woodenhead in the gob for some major dosh!
Opa-Opa has got himself a nice, new seven-way shot!
Fantasy Zone is a real stormer. The graphics are well cool, the action is heated and the power-ups are wicked(ish). The mixture of mindless blasting, precision flying and strategic purchase of new hardware, makes it real drain on both your mental and physical resources - after a session on Fantasy Zone you know about it!
The end-of-level Bosses are tricky and provide an interesting challenge, and just to put the icing on the cake, this cart pushes out some rad soundwaves too!
Really, this has got to be the Sega bargain of the year. Thirteen quid for one of the best Sega shoot 'em ups? What can we say -except take a trip round the Fantasy Zone as soon as you can!