Category: Reviews

Retro Monday – Super Fantasy Zone

Super Fantasy Zone is the third game in the Fantasy Zone series and also the last. It was originally released for the Mega Drive in Japan in early 1992, it came out in the UK later that year and didn’t come to the US until it’s release on the Wii Virtual Console in 2008.

Super Fantasy Zone is a shoot ’em up, in which you fly left and right trying to destroy specific enemies that will then trigger a boss. There are other enemies that will try to take you out while you aim for the guardians that are the objective, so you need to be careful and watch for bullets and enemies encroaching on your position. It’s a pretty standard free-roaming shooter in the vein of games like Defender. While taking down the bad guys you’ll get coins, and with those coins you can buy items from the shop, some items, like the double rocket and big wings, will last until you die, in which case you’ll need to rebuy them, other items, like the wide shot, only last for a certain amount of time and then it runs out and your ships weapon reverts to its twin shot.

The gameplay itself, isn’t really remarkable in any way, as I said it’s pretty standard and somewhat tough, though with each game over and retry I would get slightly further each time, so the difficulty isn’t too harsh, and you can learn attack patterns and so forth. The visuals are its main draw however, they, unlike the majority of Shumps are brightly coloured and rather bold. They are the epitome of joy and still look great to this day. The music follows suit with it’s upbeat and fun loving chiptune soundtrack that also stands out as being joyous.

Overall I liked the game, I started off thinking it was not too great, but over the hour that I played it I grew more and more fond of it, the visuals and sound helped with that and the gameplay with just ordinary, was fun, and I think anyone who likes a shmups with thoroughly enjoy this for its various aspects.

Verdict: Recommended.

Retro Monday: Kid Chameleon

Kid Chameleon was made by Sega and was released on the Mega Drive back in 1992, it’s not a game I’m really familiar with as I only played it once or twice around a cousin’s house.

Kid Chameleon is a game that firmly sits in the platforming genre, but this game has a twist, you don’t simply jump through levels, you get power-ups in the form of different helmets, those helmets change your outfit, and there are a lot of outfits and they all do different things, there’s one that is a knight like costume that lets you climb walls and gives you 5 hits before losing it, then there’s a rhino like costume that lets you smash some walls, and you even have a samurai outfit that lets you slice and dice your enemies. There’s more too, all with unique abilities which add variety to the game and allows you to tackle stages differently. Did I mention you can even get a tank??

The game has some nice visuals and some not great visuals, for example the backgrounds are a bit on the bland side, the foregrounds are ok, but the sprites are really good, and has the most detail of all. the soundtrack is enjoyable enough, there’s also variety in both. The levels seem to mix things up a fair bit, from caves to forests to beaches and so on. I will say though that the controls didn’t feel right, I did adjust to them, but they felt a little loose, also the game is difficult, I didn’t get a far as I thought and lost all my continues, I guess I should’ve handled my power-ups better, the game also seems really long for an old school platformer, I played it for – not a long 0 45 minutes and get to level 9, when I died, I checked how many levels there were and there were 11 or more levels on just stage 1 of the game, and there are 4 stages with about the same amount of levels each. Basically, it’s got quite a lot of game to it.

Overall I’d say the game is pretty decent, but a little tough, it’ll be worth playing for the unique gameplay with all the different skills you get, and it’s actually pretty fun if, a little frustrating.

Verdict: Recommended.

Retro Monday: Sonic the Hedgehog 3

The third game in the series, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was released in 1994 for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis. Sonic 3 has been re-released and featured in Sega/Sonic compilations across most modern systems since and despite the dip in quality of 3D Sonic games in the late 2000s the 2D retro aesthetic is combing back through Sonic Project 2017 and Sonic Mania due later this year.

Visually Sonic 3 is stunning; the sprites are detailed and humorous, the background and foreground art is vibrant with a lot of variety between levels. The soundtrack is full of catchy tunes that I found myself happily whistling or humming along as I ran and jumped through levels.

Sonic 3 plays how you expect a Sonic game to be: fast, frantic and a hell of a lot of fun without the cheap and random pits of death all over the place as seen in later iterations. The game has variety beyond just going fast. The game takes its time with some more methodical platforming which makes the speedy sections feel faster. It’s a shame Sonic Team have taken to starting from scratch with each Sonic game instead of building on what came before it as they did with the first 3 Sonic Mega Drive games. For me Sonic 3 isn’t just one of the best Sonic games, it’s also one of the best games on the Mega Drive, even more so when connected to the Sonic and Knuckles cartridge in an early example of expanding gameplay beyond the physical hardware. I’m looking forward to Sonic Mania and hope it can live up to the legacy of the Sonic the Hedgehog brand’s earlier years.

Verdict: Highly Recommended.