Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
FANTASY ZONE • SANRITSU • £24 • IMPORT
Hold on tight, folks, your Game Gear has just entered the Fantasy Zone. Thousands of pan-dimensional aliens have infiltrated the zone and plan to mine it for resources. Only you can stop the invading masses in your small plasma fighter. Unluckily for you, the ship only comes equipped with low energy lasers and a single-shot bomb. Still, you’ve faced these kinds of odds before, so what’s new about this one?
To throw you off course, the aliens have slipped a Mickey Finn your way to play with your senses. Now all you can see are putrid pinks, gaudy greens and yucky yellows - argh, you’re in hippy heaven! And you’re all out of lentils, green tea, smelly socks and Flloyd albums.
Get your shades on, grow your hair and enter the strange and terrifying world of Fantasy Zone.
Weird is the only word that aptly describes Fantasy Zone. Weird just about says it all: strange, bizarre and eerie. The original Master System version - which came out some five years ago! - shocked the senses with its vivid colours and lightning fast gameplay, but the Game Gear version seems to have lost something in translation.
The game starts with a very promising title screen which waves from side to side when you start up. And without any options to adjust game parameters, you’re straight into the game.
Sound consists of a dreamy tune playing on the title screen and a cheerful march accompanying play. Laser and bomb effects are not as impressive though.
Just one look at the game will give you some idea of the visual delight of all the levels. Each one has its own particularly twisted style, combining the most disgusting colours with strange shapes in the background. This type of graphical sadism has gained quite a cult following over the years; there was even a hidden Fantasy Zone screen on the Mega Drive version of Arnold Palmer Golf. Even the gold, which drops from waves of freaky aliens when you disintegrate them, is intentionally hard to see because of the crazy backdrops. How many games can you mention that use the colour to increase difficulty?
All this is let down by appalling gameplay. The control is very sluggish, and often has you going in completely the wrong direction. This problem is multiplied by the terrible fourway of the Game Gear, which doesn’t do any favours for gamesplayers. And then there’s the collision detection, which is a complete joke.
The playability severely flaws this version and will disappoint anyone looking forward to playing a portable version of their fave Master System game.
The larger creatures can be destroyed with either three bombs or a volley of laser bolts. They release money, but be warned it disappears quickly if left to bounce.
Also, don’t leave it too late to enter the shop. It doesn’t wait for ever, and it will be a long time before it reappears. The only decent weapons are back shot and five-way shot.
At the end of each of the seven levels, you'll encounter a large - but usually cute - mechanical monstrosity who will try to clip your ship's wings. Above are pictured the first six, but we'll leave the seventh guy as a surprise. Sadly, all the guardians are very simply drawn and present little challenge.
The first version of the infamous Fantasy Zone came out in 1986 from Sega on the Master System. Since then, it has also appeared in fine form on the PC Engine.
Whoever said the Game Gear couldn't display many colours onscreen? Fantasy Zone must use every single colour there is - and few more, too. Just look at those dreamy backgrounds, whatever was the programmer on?
On average people fantasise about situations at least three times a day.
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