I was very glad to have been offered the chance to review Fantasy Zone II on the 3DS. It is the latest in the line of 3D remakes and my have they been impressive so far. Highlights for me being Outrun and Sonic the Hedgehog, this is retro gaming at its best. Saying that, I have always been a Nintendo guy, I’d never had thought I would be losing my mind about Sega games, but now I have the hindsight and budget to recognise good games no matter who made them. In fairness, the 3DS virtual Console has been left behind in comparison to the Wii U’s, this makes sense as they want to throw as much as they can at the Wii U. However in regards to this, I just wish they would make things cross buy across the consoles and easier to access, but this is a review of Fantasy Zone II, not a rant about one of Nintendo’s policies.
Before the first Fantasy Zone was released as a Sega 3D Classic, I had never heard of the franchise. My brother bought the game on a hunch and enjoyed it, I was too busy with something else at the time no doubt, but I registered in my head I need to go back and take a look. Fantasy Zone II is basically a side- scrolling shooting game, comparable to perhaps Resogun in gameplay. You are moving freely backwards and forwards shooting bases that release enemies at you and basically everything else that moves. I liked Resogun, but I probably like this better!
Why? Easy, it has bright colourful graphics, it has a bouncy tune, it is very retro and happy to be so. I find joy in the characters you are fighting; this game brings me back to a good time of my childhood. Even though I never played it before, there is a comfortable familiarity here that I think most gamers would find charming. I am making this sound like a nice game eh? Ha! This is far from the truth, this is in fact one of the toughest games I have reviewed for this site and all the better for it. Enemies are fast and furious, you have to watch everything on the screen, keep your eyes everywhere, you don’t know what is going to hit you when.
The action leads you to destroy all the bases, some of which create dark zones, which basically act as harder parallel universes to the level you are on. Once the base is destroyed you battle a boss, all of which are a challenge themselves. Each level you beat unlocks the next setting, with a different colour scheme, design and enemy design, tougher than the one before even. There is a never ending mode open from the start also, you are fighting till you lose your one life and then comparing high scores from there.
The graphics are as mentioned, nice enough, but like the other Sega 3D classics, the actual 3D is outstanding, even compared to some of the Nintendo games that are being offered. The ‘New’ 3DS only enhances this further, even impressing me, a veteran of the 3DS! I would say if anyone told me this was based on a 1989 Master System game, I would baulk at the idea, but yes, that is the true achievement here, very old school, very true to the original, yet very new feeling. I have been raving about this one, but I need to reiterate, this is a hard core game, don’t buy it expecting a breeze, this is the Dark Souls of 2d side Scrolling shooters! Still you will struggle to get action and value like this anywhere else, while not perfect, I still give this a strong recommendation.
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