We wrap up Fantasy Zone week with a special SEGAbits Round Table in which we look to the future of the Fantasy Zone franchise. As this week has taught us, Fantasy Zone is a small, but highly imaginative franchise with fantastic music, difficult yet addicting gameplay, and an enduring protagonist. But what about the future of the franchise? Does Fantasy Zone‘s simplistic arcade-style gameplay have a place in 2013 and beyond?
A.J. Rosa of My Life with SEGA
[Image credit: smstributes.co.uk]
Personally, I’d like to see Fantasy Zone: The Adventure. It can serve as a reboot for the series and actually show the collapse of the interplanetary monetary system. We can see Opa-Opa receive his mission to thwart the invading forces of Menon, penetrating enemy territory, all leading up to the inevitable confrontation with his long lost father. The story is surprisingly deep for a cute-’em-up, though it rarely comes through in the game. There’s some genuine emotion there that can be exploited.
Gameplay can be a free-roaming flight simulator where Opa-Opa attacks enemy bases by air, systematically destroying turrets, fighters and mutants before taking on a stage boss. While you can take ’em on the old-fashioned way, Opa-Opa can also walk on the ground floor. With this dynamic, Opa-Opa can explore neighboring settlements, ruins, etc. You can engage in side quests that would not only add dimension to this incredible universe, but you can unlock secrets that range from a piece of information to weapon/ship upgrades.
Visually, I feel the graphics should be similar to Sonic Lost Worlds so it can retain its bright, vibrant color scheme and other-worldly designs. As for the music, I want Nathan McCree (Soul Star for SEGA CD) to compose it. His score was truly epic and would compliment this fantastic world perfectly, I feel.
I do not think Fantasy Zone is a series that SEGA can really make a sequel to. The original game and its Genesis sequel, Super Fantasy Zone, still hold up very well today as simple arcade shoot‘em ups. I’d hate to see SEGA try to update the formula for today’s market.
That being said, I would love to see SEGA update the original game. It had a surreal art style that the hardware of the day could not fully realize. A completely remade, high definition hand drawn version of the original Fantasy Zone would be a real spectacle to see. Throw in a casual mode with additional continues and lives to make the game beatable, as well as some new power ups in the shop and we’d have a spectacular game on our hands!
Like other SEGAbits writers, I was introduced to the Fantasy Zone franchise after the Master System era had ended, so I unfortunately missed out on Opa-Opa’s exploits when he was in his prime. Still, it says a lot about the quality of the series when I can say that I played Fantasy Zone for the first time in 2001 and was hooked. Sure the graphics could not compare to what the Dreamcast was offering at the time, but the game had a highly unique art style and plenty of charm. I’d like to think of Fantasy Zone as the Jet Set Radio of the Master System era. While the game had familiar elements, it was and still is something that you can’t find anywhere else thanks to the art direction and overall style from SEGA’s best. Moving forward, I would love to see SEGA include Super Fantasy Zone in their range of 3D SEGA classics on the Nintendo 3DS. We’ve already seen other iconic Mega Drive titles in the lineup, and Super Fantasy Zone would fit right in.
From there, SEGA should explore a rerelease of the PS2’s Fantasy Zone Complete Collection to introduce a new generation of gamers to the series. Platforms like XBLA, PSN, Android, and iOS would be perfect for such a release. Better yet, after catching people up on the franchise, release a brand new title. Surely Fantasy Zone is a series that relies more on imagination than a large budget. Opa-Opa is an iconic character who deserves a big return.
[Image credit: pcengine.co.uk]
I have to say, I regret that I’ve never played Fantasy Zone before. In fact, up until we kicked off this week of coverage, I’m not even sure that I’d heard of the series. So while I have little in the way of suggestions for what I’d like to see in a sequel, I’ll say that what strikes me about what I’ve glimpsed of the game are its visuals. It all has such a warm look to it, with a world brimming with life and invention. I’d love to see a modern day shoot ’em up with graphics that capture the magic of what I’ve seen of Fantasy Zone.
I’d also like to see an easier mode so that people who may not be as great at the genre would have the opportunity to enjoy the crazy colors and what looks like very fun gameplay.
Should SEGA opt to pick Fantasy Zone up again, I’d much rather they took a crack at developing a new installment, with the industry I think becoming too reliant on remakes and remasters for its own good. A new game would likely be far more able to compete with the shoot ’em ups of today and possibly even take the genre forward.
But if SEGA did see fit to remake this title, I guess I wouldn’t object to it too much.
I didn’t really know too much about Fantasy Zone until these past two years. I played it once on the Master System and only saw it as a defender clone. I didn’t know about the upgrades and cash or the fact that the ship was alive until much later. Then, I played it on the Sega Classic collection for PS2. The game is a fun and quirky title that has a fair amount of more modern elements to it. The crazy and quirky enemies really have a lot of charm. Now that I have a Master system of old, I’ve been looking to add some Fantasy Zone titles to the library (though some can get pretty pricey). By the way, are Space Harrier and Fantasy Zone related?
M2!! Make a 3-D port of this for 3DS please! You guys are doing a fantastic job with those ports!
[A special shoutout to forum member Nameless 24 for the awesome vector drawing of the Fantasy Zone logo which we’ve been using throughout the week. Thanks Nameless 24!]Ad:
4 responses to “Round Table: What’s next for the Fantasy Zone franchise?”
I think if I wanted to see Opa Opa in the current gen, I’d want to see something like a Zillion action shooter RPG.
Shigs, at the beginning of the arcade version of Space Harrier, the announcer says “Welcome to the Fantasy Zone! Get Ready!” so it would seem to be in the same world. However, most manuals and boxes for the Space Harrier series tend to refer to it as the Land of the Dragons, so maybe it’s just one realm/planet within the Fantasy Zone.
There was also an unreleased game for the Mega Drive called Space Fantasy Zone which starred Opa-Opa but was played in a third person perspective like Space Harrier. It was developed by Sunsoft without Sega’s permission and Sega didn’t greenlight it when they found out about it.
Space Fantasy Zone was being made for PC-Engine CD. Pretty crazy they made a SEGA franchise game for a non-SEGA console without SEGA’s permission…though it’s possible to get the ISO of the pretty much finished game off the net and play it.
I’m thinking that if SEGA (or Atlus) was going to bring back the franchise; firstly digital only would be the way to go. I really like the concept/vision by the credited image by ‘smstributes.co.uk’ – where OpaOpa is shooting at a boss. A complete 3D world shooter with the graphics/imagery inspired in a cartoon way that resembles Toy Story kinda thing… Could be a great re-introduction to the series for the opportunity of old fans and new ones experiencing the greatness of this addictive shooter..