Monday, August 11, 2008

Fantasy Zone Complete Collection - M2's Final Battle?!

Fantasy Zone Complete Collection is the 33rd entry in the Sega Ages 2500 series, which you may know as the best old game compilation series ever. I wrote about the 32nd entry, Phantasy Star Complete Collection, back in April. While other developers tend to view compilations as shovelware at worst and a quick buck at best (the distinction is tenuous), developer M2 has always gone out of their way to present old games in the best light possible.

Fantasy Zone Complete Collection, sadly, looks like it's going to be the last Sega Ages entry ever. Unfortunate, to be sure, but worry not! M2 is clearly bringing their A-game to this loving tribute to one of Sega's most underappreciated franchises.

Along with Outrun and Space Harrier, Fantasy Zone is the Sega game that seems to best represent the often romanticized design attitudes of the nearly-dead game giant. It's Defender with gorgeous graphics and FM samba on the soundtrack, a two-way scrolling shooting game with a joyous sense of creativity and a slowly creeping tinge of the bizarre. How else do you explain the series protagonist, Opa-Opa, a pastel-colored creature with cherubic wings and tiny bootsies protruding from his underbelly (the wikipedia entry describes him as a "sentient spaceship")? The answer frequently offered up by the collective consciousness of People Who Play Video Games is "drugs, dude," but who can say for sure what the mysterious pseudonyms representing the Japanese men responsible for crafting '80s arcade games did in their spare time? I'm not going there.
So what's M2 offering up in this collection? In their Phantasy Star Complete Collection, they let you adjust the game difficulty for all of the games on the collection, offered options to increase walking speed and a turbo button for speeding through battles. Those features, in addition to the lavish display options and archival materials that have become a Sega Ages standard, made a bunch of beloved-but-crusty RPGs playable in a reasonable amount of time, and appreciable to a modern audience.

Fantasy Zone Complete Collection is a lot more ambitious. After releasing Fantasy Zone to the arcades on their workhorse System 16 board in 1986, Sega followed up with a sequel for their decidedly non-workhorse Mark III console, entitled "Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa," eventually porting it to the Mark III-based System E arcade hardware. What M2 is doing is slightly insane, and mostly incredible: they've developed a new System 16-based version of Fantasy Zone II, the version that should have existed but never was. In 2008!

It looks wonderful. The remake's official homepage as part of the Complete Collection can be found here, with screenshots and information aplenty. The other relevant piece of info about the game is that cult-favorite game composer Manabu Namiki (Trauma Center 2, various Cave shooting games) will be handling the sound design for the remake. And, y'know, it'll be $30 at Play-Asia. I'm psyched!


Mazo said...

Nothing like a little Fantasy Zone in the morning. Evening. Whatever.

They actually programmed a System 16 version of the game? That's just a little more extreme than the whole Mega Man 9 ordeal.

Jason Moses said...

Yeah, but I can't blame Das Game Blogs for not picking up on it. Who the fuck even knows what Fantasy Zone is? Still, way cool.

Threeli (Dev Blog) said...

I know what Fantasy Zone is. I had this jam on my Sega Gamegear when I was a young lad. After I grew older I literally spent years trying to find it under false memories of it being called "opal jr." Yeah; needless to say I eventually figured it out. But this game rocks (all incarnations of it) and always will.
Thanks for posting this.