SEGA AGES Fantasy Zone review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Sega
Developer: M2
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Leaderboards

Fantasy Zone was one of the more, shall we say, interesting games Sega released to the arcades in 1985. Players were drawn to it’s bright colors and challenging game play. Everything in this game is trippy, right down to the main character. Now, it’s being re-released under the SEGA AGES banner on the Switch for a new generation of gamers who … may not fully understand it’s charm.

In the space year 1422, the Fantasy Zone was cast in panic as forces from the Planet Menon are stealing the other planets’ currencies to to turn the world into  a huge battle fortress. Opa-Opa, a small spaceship, is sent to stop the invading army and save the Fantasy Zone from destruction. You control Opa-Opa as he flies throughout the world, destroying wacky enemies and bombing flying monster generators to push back the invasion. After all generators are destroyed, you must battle that area’s boss alien. You will have help in this fight, as defeating enemies and winning boss battles awards you with gold coins that you can use to buy speed and weapon upgrades in shops scattered across levels.

The worlds and enemies all look like they were pulled from someone’s fever dream. You will be hard pressed to make heads or tails of anything you see. It’s nothing that assaults your senses, but it certainly is a trip to play as it is to witness. Fantasy Zone ranks up the challenge from the very first stage and only continues to get tougher as you progress. Many gamers will be turned off by this games difficulty, but if you keep at it, you can progress. You simply can’t let the game win, which is what keeps some coming back for more. You have no life bar, one hit from an enemy and you are dead! All of your upgrades disappear with each death as well, making this game an incredible challenge.

Fortunately, this port comes with another, slightly easier mode, that helps you throughout. Upa-Upa mode gives you the ability to switch weapons on the fly and use them as long as you have gold. You can also begin the game with speed power ups for easier maneuvering.  It’s still challenging in this mode, but the added help makes progressing a bit easier. Also included is a Time-Attack mode where you are trying to complete levels in the fastest time. You may not want to tackle this mode until you are more comfortable with the others first, as this is no easier than original mode. Adding a time limit just adds to the frustration you will no doubt feel.

Once again, the masters at M2 have brought out a completely perfect port of the arcade game. This version also gives you some video options like widescreen and scan lines so you can get the visuals exactly how you like them. This is emulation, but it’s incredibly accurate as with previous SEGA AGES releases. Everything from the original arcade is recreated perfectly, including the punishing difficulty.

While this is an outstanding release, I do feel that this title may be to difficult for many who have haven’t played a version of it in the past. I can assure you that if you practice and keep wanting to progress, you will eventually figure everything out. It’s one of those games where the more you play, the better you get. At only $7.99, this is a great deal for those who are fans of the series, but as I stated before, the challenge here is no joke. First timers, you have to battle through the frustration and you may just find your new favorite title in the SEGA AGES line.

Sega provided us with a SEGA AGES Fantasy Zone Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-