Review: 3D Fantasy Zone II W for Nintendo 3DS

Opa-Opa and away!

First things first: If you haven’t already read my review of 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros., go read that first. I’ll wait, because basically everything said about that game holds true here as well, and much like the developers of this game, I’m building on the original.

Also, this might run a little shorter than usual for me.

Done? Okay, let’s go.

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As noted above, Fantasy Zone II is largely the same as the original game, albeit with a few twists thrown in. Similar in that regard to how Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels follows the original, except without the spirit-crushing difficulty accompanying it (maybe more like Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger in that regard?). In fact, if anything, this version is a little easier than the first game, if only just so. Or at the very least, the tougher parts are spread out just a bit more.

Among the differences which set this game apart and make it slightly easier than Fantasy Zone is that the weapon system is refined. You still have the banking system in place to help you purchase faster engines, better guns, more bomastic bombs, etcetera, only now some of the one-time use items stick around a bit longer. What’s more, some of the time-limited items will protect you from one additional hit, though of course taking that hit will cost you the item in question. Bombs, however, stick around but operate on a meter that has to be recharged.

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The other big change is that as you go left and right through the game’s seven initial rounds (the eighth is a boss rush) to hunt down bases and blow them out of the sky before fighting a boss, you’ll encounter special portals. In a move predating Nintendo’s adoption of the trope, entering these portals will take you from the standard “Bright” side of a stage to the more sinister “Dark” side.

While going to the Dark Side is easier, quicker, and more seductive in Star Wars, it’s not so much in Fantasy Zone II. Well, more seductive perhaps, as it is more rewarding in the coins you can net from fallen foes; however, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and you’ll have to work harder for your money (so hard for your money) on this side. Incidentally, and maybe ironically, is that despite the greater flow of cash, you’ll have a more difficult time finding a place to spend it in the Dark Side as the floating shops are a bit more rare there.

Fortunately, you can strategize a bit with this. Bases you destroy in one side remain so when you switch over, so you can either whittle down their forces on the Bright side before making a jump to cash in on the remains, or you can just try going for broke at the outset and bail when the heat becomes too much for you.

Of course, if you want full completion, then you must venture into the Dark Side. As it is, the game has three endings: One for a solid Bright run, a mixed run, and of course the best is reserved for those who go Dark and never look back. And no cheating! Using the stage select registers a Bright Side ending.

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The original version of Fantasy Zone II was designed for the SEGA Master System, but for the purposes of this Nintendo 3DS remake, the developers at M2 drew from their own version created for the Japanese-exclusive SEGA Ages collection on PlayStation 2 in 2008. For that release, the intent was to update the game in such a way as to mimic what the game might have been like had it been developed for SEGA’s System 16 arcade hardware.

In addition to the enhanced presentation and the inclusion of a map on the bottom screen and various other options M2’s 3D Classics have become known for, this release also includes an additional mode titled Link Loop Land. In this endless score attack mode, you take control of Upa-Upa (or the unlockable Opa-Opa) with the goal of getting the highest score possible on a single life. There are no shops here, but at least you get unlimited 3-way fire to help you along — at least until you get hit, reducing your firepower by one. Get “Fever Time,” though, and you’ll be blazing away with 14 shots and racking up points like a champ.

As simple as it is to describe, Link Loop Land is quite a fun second mode that — in the context of the 3D Classics series — could have easily served as its own release.

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Both 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. and 3D Fantasy Zone II W are great additions to the Nintendo 3DS library of 3D Classics, and definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of the shoot ’em up — or in this case, “cute ’em up” — genre. However, if you’re forced to choose between the two, I think this one is where it’s at with the best bang for your buck.

N3DS_FantasyZoneIIW_title_screen3D Classics Fantasy Zone II W was released digitally in the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS on April 16th, 2015 at a price of $5.99.

A review code was provided by SEGA.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.