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"What to buy, what to buy."
I've been up and down and up about this game and I've only played it three or four times yet. I'd never played any of the previous incarnations of Fantasy Zone so when I saw the super-colorful screenshots and sprite-like cel-shaded characters I thought it looked possibly like the best thing ever. Then I played it and was shocked at the seemingly sluggish controls and most of all that your ship turns left and right like Defender. Defender? Nooo, I was subjected to that game far too often as a child.
But then I played it some more and to my surprise it began to get somewhat fun. All the more surprising since the corn-syrupy colors have started to wear on me a bit. But the ship (or Opa-Opa, rather), while starting sluggish, can get pretty durn fast once you collect enough money (by killing things, of course!) to buy better engines, and you kind of get used to the drifty feeling of the ship changing facing as you move left or right. The stages are tough but not too long and the bosses are challenging. This is good stuff.
But then I sometimes get down on it again. I don't like how you shell out your gold for powerups only to have them wear off ten seconds later, and darn me if the massive collision detection on your little little ship isn't hard to get used to on the more forgiving shooters of these modern days. And I don't quite understand why, when levels are really just horizontally-wrapping backgrounds dotted with spawner ships, they couldn't have made the enemy layouts random, or at least varying. The load times are too long for the simplicity of the graphics (darn Sega for putting these Ages releases on CD rather than DVD). And I'll always hate the old "push both buttons constantly, one to shoot and one to bomb" thing.
And yet there's good twitch factor to be found here, some of the music isn't annoying, and the game as a whole has got a certain silly charm about it. It's a budget title, and it feels like one, but a good one.