3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. (Nintendo 3DS) Second Opinion Review

By Albert Lichi 07.03.2015

Review for 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. on Nintendo 3DS

SEGA's Fantasy Zone is a very colorful and wacky world that helped make it stand out from other shoot 'em-ups in the 1980s. Rich pastels and endearing weird looking characters made it a very distinct game in the SEGA catalogue during an era of R-Type, Galaga and Gradius. SEGA's surrealistic approach, with its unconventional aircraft design kind of made Fantasy Zone slightly cute. Like most other bullet-hell or shoot 'em-up action games, the goal is elegantly simple: survive and shoot anything that moves. However, while most games like this kept action constantly scrolling, Fantasy Zone did things differently by allowing players to freely control their ship. Opa-Opa takes flight once again in the Cubed3 review of 3D Fantasy Zone for 3DS eShop.

3D Fantasy Zone makes a very strong initial impression. With no real story to speak of, it is the vibrant and detailed visuals that hit home, as they have been meticulously enhanced by the 3D effects from the new hardware and add an unbelievable amount of fidelity to the sprite art thanks to the very liberal use of the parallax layering. The premise is that the main character is a sentient aircraft named Opa-Opa, and he is defending his world from invaders. Opa-Opa is an interesting character, to say the least, as he has no real face or features that would imply expression, but still has such charming qualities about him. One such quality is the fact he sprouts tiny legs when players fly to the lowest point on the screen and has an endearing strut. Opa-Opa's wings are like bird or angel wings, despite the fact he has a body like some kind of egg-shaped spaceship. Even his name, "Opa-Opa," is just so cute and loveable that it would make anyone wonder why SEGA let this character disappear into obscurity and not use him as more of an official mascot over Alex Kidd or Sonic.

Screenshot for 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. on Nintendo 3DS

Opa-Opa is a fun character, but is this 3DS port also fun? Extremely! 3D Fantasy Zone is an absolute joy to play. The game designers back in the 1980s pretty much nailed it perfectly the first time when the shoot 'em-up genre exploded into popularity. Fantasy Zone was great then and it has been made even greater now with the extra bells and whistles SEGA has added to this immortal classic. Opa-Opa controls a bit unwieldy at first, but when users get used to the physics involved with his controls, there will be no going back. Since players can fly Opa-Opa freely left or right within a looping world, 3D Fantasy Zone has an extra layer of strategy that is just not found in other titles of this ilk. When a monstrous wave of invaders shows up, there is the option to retreat a bit in order to align shots up to dispatch the enemy. This is vital because Opa-Opa's inertia determines the camera position and he only faces the direction players push him in, so firing and flying backwards is something he just can't do, unless he is fighting a boss.

Screenshot for 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. on Nintendo 3DS

Unlike most shooters, Opa-Opa does not power up by picking up weapons on the fly, instead using hard currency to purchase power-ups via balloon shops. During play-throughs, every time a power-up is purchased, the value rises, which is an ingenious way of keeping the gamer considering every purchase. This added layer of depth to the standard shooting gameplay encourages players to dare to grab the coins from fallen enemies, which may require putting themselves in a risky situation. It also keeps the gameplay very exciting and interesting by frequently daring users to actively go into danger if they wish to gain currency to power-up.

Tried and true controls that were perfected in the '80s translate well to the 3DS, as well as flawless use of stereoscopic 3D, but 3D Fantasy Zone has come with a few other neat extras. Various difficulties, plus options to choose how many lives players can have, have been implemented into this arcade-perfect port. There is also the option to play the original Japanese or English versions of Fantasy Zone for some minor differences.

Screenshot for 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. on Nintendo 3DS

On top of that, there is a feature to record gameplay, but it is not terribly interesting. Additionally, players have the ability to save anytime during gameplay, which can lead to saving through the more challenging sequences, thus negating the game's difficulty. It is a welcomed addition that does make things more convenient, however, but it cannot be helped that its side effect ruins the value of the high score a player might earn since anyone can just save their way to victory.

3D Fantasy Zone is generally a pretty short and easy game if players don't abuse the 'save anywhere' feature. However, its cutesy and feel-good atmosphere reflects its difficulty, so its low entry barrier is very appropriate. The price for 3D Fantasy Zone is worth it and it is a pretty addictive shoot 'em-up. Since there are a lot of randomised elements to the action, it never feels same-y or repetitive. The goal is always just to pick off the enemy bases, which is always followed by a boss fight, but since Opa-Opa controls so well, the game can be hard to put down. There is also a means to unlock Opa-Opa's brother, Upa-Upa, should gamers play the game enough, so there is also some interesting post-game content.

Screenshot for 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

3D Fantasy Zone is an unbelievably great port and a fine addition to the likes of 3D After Burner II. This is by far one of the greatest shoot 'em-ups out there and now it is portable with a slew of extra features and added modes to make an already great and immortal classic even more enjoyable. Opa-Opa may not have been the mascot SEGA wanted to represent their image, but his appeal is undeniable and the fact that his game is so fun and bizarre, it is almost tragic that he never got the exposure he deserved. The option to save anywhere, while being hugely convenient, also gives way to the unfortunate side effect of being exploitable and, thus, making for a very easy game should players abuse this feature. A middle ground would have been preferred, but in the end 3D Fantasy Zone is still a fantastic action game and is worth the attention of anyone who loves videogames.

Also known as

3D Fantasy Zone









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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