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pollution_skunk
09-26-14 11:13 PM
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Boxia
10-01-14 04:26 PM
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Space Fantasy Zone! The legendary cancelled SEGA crossover! Is it a good game?

 
Game's Ratings
Overall
Graphics
Sound
Addictiveness
Depth
Story
Difficulty
Average User Score
8.3
7
6
5
6
N/A
9
7.9
7
6
5
6
N/A
9

09-26-14 11:13 PM
pollution_skunk is Offline
| ID: 1082458 | 1144 Words

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Before hitting it big in the console market with the Genesis/Mega Drive, good ol' SEGA already had an extremely prolific career as an ambitious and visionary arcade manufacturer. However, since their attempts at penetrating the 80's home videogame market were total failures (except in a select few countries), most - if not ALL - of their arcade classics got versions released for several platforms other than the company's own during that time, with most of them being re-programmed from scratch by third-party companies, and NEC Avenue was the small developer responsible for converting the big blue's revolutionary coin-ops to NEC/Hudson's equally revolutionary (at the time) PC-Engine. Their ports, while decent-to-excellent in overall quality, lacked the extra bells and whistles present in SEGA's own Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive and Sharp X68000 versions, being bare-bones translations of beloved arcade classics like After Burner (II) and OutRun.

But then in 1992 things were about to change with the release of Space Fantasy Zone, a crossover/mashup of Fantasy Zone (which didn't have a PCE port!) and Space Harrier (which already had a PCE port!) for the then brand-new PC-Engine Super CD-ROM² System (whew!). Just imagine this: an exclusive SEGA game! On a non-SEGA console! On a CD-ROM! With in-game art and illustrations by famous manga artist Satoshi Urushihara! It was going to be AWESOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMEEEEEE! Of course the Japanese gaming press was raving about it, with beautifully-illustrated ads promising a 1992 release popping up in every gaming mag imaginable, but in the end it was never released. The reasons behind the game's cancellation were probably the PC-Engine's dwindling popularity in Japan and the subsequent cancellation of its distribution in the West and the fact that SEGA already had a powerful grasp in the home console industry at the time of its development.

The existence of a nearly-finished prototype was unknown until 2008, when a leaked ISO file made the rounds in the Internet, showing an approximation of what gamers could expect from the finished game. Is it a good game? Keep reading to find out!~

GRAPHICS: 7/10

Space Fantasy Zone sure looks a lot like Fantasy Zone, what with the big (maybe too big) and colorful character sprites, but it barely resembles Space Harrier. Even though the third-person behind-the-back viewpoint is exactly identical to the 1985 classic's, the PC-Engine's hardware can't replicate the scaling effects that made SH so famous, opting instead for a bad simulation made entirely through parallax-scrolling trickery. This wouldn't be a problem if SFZ's faux-scaling were as good as, say, PCE After Burner II's (which was released a few years earlier), but NEC Avenue did a very poor job at replicating it on what was to be one of 1992's biggest releases.

DIFFICULTY: 9/10

Space Fantasy Zone's fast and erratic enemy movement patterns, lack of visible depth and slippery controls (this may be caused by the use of an XBOX360 controller to play the game, actually...) severely compromises its rather simple gameplay - defeat enemies, beat stage, buy new items with the points you get (no coins necessary here!), rinse and repeat eight more times. Most of the obstacles you'll meet in your quest are nigh-undodgeable unless you perfectly memorize each stage's exact pattern, something that the original Space Harrier didn't force you to do but that Fantasy Zone severely incentivates.

Sure, your character has a pretty long health bar that you can extend and replenish at the "Weaponalds" store at the end of each stage, but its presence only fuels my suspicion that the game was deliberately designed to be abusively hard, since players can take a lot of damage before losing their single life - once you lose it, it's back to the first of nine (short) stages. Have fun!

SOUND: 6/10

The amazing FM synth soundtracks and potent sound effects are another of Space Harrier and Fantasy Zone's most famous qualities, and since the "main themes" of both games are some of the most memorable in videogame history, NEC Avenue felt free to combine both into a single CD-quality track for Space Fantasy Zone. The problem is that this is the ONLY song that plays through all nine stages! Sure, also present are the boss theme, the shop song and the (apparently unfinished) victory and "high score table" jingle, but they are all composed in some cheesy early 90's synth that gets repetitive/annoying really quickly. The few sound effects present (another sign of the game's unfinished state) are the sound of your shots and two voice samples/grunts for the player character, all played using the PC-Engine's native PSG/PCM soundchip. They are pretty high-quality, and Opa-Opa's "whoops, I tripped!" voice is pretty... ahem... kawaii, but certainly not as memorable as the Harrier's loud, exaggerated "OUCH!" from Space Harrier.

DEPTH: 6/10

What differed Fantasy Zone from other shmups of its time was its unique and somewhat deep shop-based powerup system, that offered players a complete freedom of choice on how they would build their strategy for each of the game's stages... as long as they had enough in-game money and didn't waste time goofing around with the extra weapons, of course. Space Fantasy Zone uses the same system, albeit in a simplified way to try to cope up with the new perspective and gameplay. Your score works as your money (an actual improvement over the original formula! Hooray!) and shops are only accessible at the end of each stage, offering a variety of single-use special items and powerups (activated with a tap of the I button) along with an array of permanent buffs. However, the number of choices in all categories are relatively small in comparison to other Fantasy Zone titles, probably since most of the series' iconic weapons wouldn't work well when tacked in into Space Harrier's rail-shooter gameplay. At least none of them are time-limited, like FZ's weapons are.

Oh, and keeping with Space Harrier tradition, you can trip on small obstacles in this game. And let me tell you, Vizzers, that it is absolutely glorious. Trip on everything small and immobile you see, folks. You shall not be disappointed.

ADDICTIVENESS: 5/10

Well, let's just say that Space Fantasy Zone isn't a game I would play everyday.

OVERALL: 7.9/10

I love Space Harrier and I'm probably the number-one fan of Fantasy Zone around here, but there's... something... about this game that just doesn't click with me. Maybe it's because of the overt simplification of both franchises' mechanics so they could fit with each other, maybe it's the average controls, maybe it's the bad faux-scaling (I'm already used to the arcade/3DS version of Space Harrier, so everything else feels weird for me) or maybe it's even that it reeks of unfinished software, but that's understandable.

Although Space Fantasy Zone's concept is extremely cool, it's execution is rather poor, making me wish that someday SEGA themselves remakes it. Ahhh... I can dream, can't I?
Before hitting it big in the console market with the Genesis/Mega Drive, good ol' SEGA already had an extremely prolific career as an ambitious and visionary arcade manufacturer. However, since their attempts at penetrating the 80's home videogame market were total failures (except in a select few countries), most - if not ALL - of their arcade classics got versions released for several platforms other than the company's own during that time, with most of them being re-programmed from scratch by third-party companies, and NEC Avenue was the small developer responsible for converting the big blue's revolutionary coin-ops to NEC/Hudson's equally revolutionary (at the time) PC-Engine. Their ports, while decent-to-excellent in overall quality, lacked the extra bells and whistles present in SEGA's own Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive and Sharp X68000 versions, being bare-bones translations of beloved arcade classics like After Burner (II) and OutRun.

But then in 1992 things were about to change with the release of Space Fantasy Zone, a crossover/mashup of Fantasy Zone (which didn't have a PCE port!) and Space Harrier (which already had a PCE port!) for the then brand-new PC-Engine Super CD-ROM² System (whew!). Just imagine this: an exclusive SEGA game! On a non-SEGA console! On a CD-ROM! With in-game art and illustrations by famous manga artist Satoshi Urushihara! It was going to be AWESOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMEEEEEE! Of course the Japanese gaming press was raving about it, with beautifully-illustrated ads promising a 1992 release popping up in every gaming mag imaginable, but in the end it was never released. The reasons behind the game's cancellation were probably the PC-Engine's dwindling popularity in Japan and the subsequent cancellation of its distribution in the West and the fact that SEGA already had a powerful grasp in the home console industry at the time of its development.

The existence of a nearly-finished prototype was unknown until 2008, when a leaked ISO file made the rounds in the Internet, showing an approximation of what gamers could expect from the finished game. Is it a good game? Keep reading to find out!~

GRAPHICS: 7/10

Space Fantasy Zone sure looks a lot like Fantasy Zone, what with the big (maybe too big) and colorful character sprites, but it barely resembles Space Harrier. Even though the third-person behind-the-back viewpoint is exactly identical to the 1985 classic's, the PC-Engine's hardware can't replicate the scaling effects that made SH so famous, opting instead for a bad simulation made entirely through parallax-scrolling trickery. This wouldn't be a problem if SFZ's faux-scaling were as good as, say, PCE After Burner II's (which was released a few years earlier), but NEC Avenue did a very poor job at replicating it on what was to be one of 1992's biggest releases.

DIFFICULTY: 9/10

Space Fantasy Zone's fast and erratic enemy movement patterns, lack of visible depth and slippery controls (this may be caused by the use of an XBOX360 controller to play the game, actually...) severely compromises its rather simple gameplay - defeat enemies, beat stage, buy new items with the points you get (no coins necessary here!), rinse and repeat eight more times. Most of the obstacles you'll meet in your quest are nigh-undodgeable unless you perfectly memorize each stage's exact pattern, something that the original Space Harrier didn't force you to do but that Fantasy Zone severely incentivates.

Sure, your character has a pretty long health bar that you can extend and replenish at the "Weaponalds" store at the end of each stage, but its presence only fuels my suspicion that the game was deliberately designed to be abusively hard, since players can take a lot of damage before losing their single life - once you lose it, it's back to the first of nine (short) stages. Have fun!

SOUND: 6/10

The amazing FM synth soundtracks and potent sound effects are another of Space Harrier and Fantasy Zone's most famous qualities, and since the "main themes" of both games are some of the most memorable in videogame history, NEC Avenue felt free to combine both into a single CD-quality track for Space Fantasy Zone. The problem is that this is the ONLY song that plays through all nine stages! Sure, also present are the boss theme, the shop song and the (apparently unfinished) victory and "high score table" jingle, but they are all composed in some cheesy early 90's synth that gets repetitive/annoying really quickly. The few sound effects present (another sign of the game's unfinished state) are the sound of your shots and two voice samples/grunts for the player character, all played using the PC-Engine's native PSG/PCM soundchip. They are pretty high-quality, and Opa-Opa's "whoops, I tripped!" voice is pretty... ahem... kawaii, but certainly not as memorable as the Harrier's loud, exaggerated "OUCH!" from Space Harrier.

DEPTH: 6/10

What differed Fantasy Zone from other shmups of its time was its unique and somewhat deep shop-based powerup system, that offered players a complete freedom of choice on how they would build their strategy for each of the game's stages... as long as they had enough in-game money and didn't waste time goofing around with the extra weapons, of course. Space Fantasy Zone uses the same system, albeit in a simplified way to try to cope up with the new perspective and gameplay. Your score works as your money (an actual improvement over the original formula! Hooray!) and shops are only accessible at the end of each stage, offering a variety of single-use special items and powerups (activated with a tap of the I button) along with an array of permanent buffs. However, the number of choices in all categories are relatively small in comparison to other Fantasy Zone titles, probably since most of the series' iconic weapons wouldn't work well when tacked in into Space Harrier's rail-shooter gameplay. At least none of them are time-limited, like FZ's weapons are.

Oh, and keeping with Space Harrier tradition, you can trip on small obstacles in this game. And let me tell you, Vizzers, that it is absolutely glorious. Trip on everything small and immobile you see, folks. You shall not be disappointed.

ADDICTIVENESS: 5/10

Well, let's just say that Space Fantasy Zone isn't a game I would play everyday.

OVERALL: 7.9/10

I love Space Harrier and I'm probably the number-one fan of Fantasy Zone around here, but there's... something... about this game that just doesn't click with me. Maybe it's because of the overt simplification of both franchises' mechanics so they could fit with each other, maybe it's the average controls, maybe it's the bad faux-scaling (I'm already used to the arcade/3DS version of Space Harrier, so everything else feels weird for me) or maybe it's even that it reeks of unfinished software, but that's understandable.

Although Space Fantasy Zone's concept is extremely cool, it's execution is rather poor, making me wish that someday SEGA themselves remakes it. Ahhh... I can dream, can't I?
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10-01-14 03:51 AM
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Not bad. Not bad at all. I like it. 
You went into depth, you used a great rating system, and you actually went into detail. I usually don't see any of that when I am looking at reviews from members that have less than 100 posts. Normally, it's just a newbie trying to get his 10 posts to get rid of his newbie status, but you actually tried in this review. Very good. Keep up the good work, and if you end up doing anymore reviews, go ahead and give me a summon so I can give you some more feedback if you want.
Not bad. Not bad at all. I like it. 
You went into depth, you used a great rating system, and you actually went into detail. I usually don't see any of that when I am looking at reviews from members that have less than 100 posts. Normally, it's just a newbie trying to get his 10 posts to get rid of his newbie status, but you actually tried in this review. Very good. Keep up the good work, and if you end up doing anymore reviews, go ahead and give me a summon so I can give you some more feedback if you want.
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10-01-14 04:23 PM
pollution_skunk is Offline
| ID: 1084301 | 66 Words

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thing1 : Thanks for the kind compliments! I always dedicate a lot of time and effort into my reviews, but this is actually one of my shortest! If you access my profile, you can see I've already written quite a few, all focusing on either obscure and/or under-appreciated games. Feel free to read and comment on them, and also check out my stories and other threads!~
thing1 : Thanks for the kind compliments! I always dedicate a lot of time and effort into my reviews, but this is actually one of my shortest! If you access my profile, you can see I've already written quite a few, all focusing on either obscure and/or under-appreciated games. Feel free to read and comment on them, and also check out my stories and other threads!~
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10-01-14 04:26 PM
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Thing put it pretty good, but I'd also like to add that i like how you enlarged the sub-titles for each category. I also love the sheer amount of detail you put into the review. All in all, great job, and i can't wait to see your future reviews.
Thing put it pretty good, but I'd also like to add that i like how you enlarged the sub-titles for each category. I also love the sheer amount of detail you put into the review. All in all, great job, and i can't wait to see your future reviews.
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