Fantasy Zone is a surreal arcade game released by Sega in 1986. It was later ported to a wide variety of consoles, including the Sega Master System. The player controls a sentient spaceship named Opa-Opa who fights nonsensical invader enemies in the titular group of planets, full of settings atypical of the traditional scrolling shooter and pastel colors. Opa-Opa is sometimes referred to as Sega's first mascot character. The game design and main character had many similarities to the earlier TwinBee, and together the games are credited with the creation of the 'cute 'em up' subgenre.
In the space year 1422 (6216 in the Master System version), the Fantasy Zone was cast in panic at the collapse of the interplanetary monetary system. The Space Guild brings to light the plans of the planet Menon, whose forces are stealing the other planets' currencies to fund a huge fortress in the Fantasy Zone. Opa-Opa is sent to stop the invading army and discover who is behind it. In the end, it turns out that the leader was none other than Opa-Opa's long lost father, a revelation that leaves Opa-Opa with mixed emotions.
In the game, the player's ship is placed in a level with a number of bases to destroy. When all the bases are gone, the stage boss appears, who must be defeated in order to move on to the next stage. There are eight stages, and in all of them, except the final one, the scroll is not fixed; the player can move either left or right, though the stage loops. The final level consists of fighting again all previous bosses in succession and then facing the final one.
Opa-Opa uses two different attacks: the standard weapon (initially bullets) and bombs. He can also move down to land on the ground by sprouting feet and walking around until he flies again.
It is possible to upgrade Opa-Opa's weapons, bombs and flying engine to increase speed, as well as get extra lives. Before that, the player must get money by defeating enemies, bases or bosses, and access a shop by touching a marked balloon. Each time a new item is bought, they become more expensive. When the player chooses to exit or the time runs up, another screen appears, in which he or she can select what upgrades Opa-Opa can use; only one engine, weapon and bomb can be equipped at a time.
Some of the new weapons have a time limit that starts as soon as the shop is left. Some of the bombs can be used at any moment, but they are limited. On the other hand, the engines are permanent, though some of these actually makes Opa-Opa hard to control, as he moves too fast. The powerups can also be reassigned by reentering the shop or touch a balloon with the word 'Select' written on it. If the player loses a life, all of the upgrades are lost.
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