Fantasy Zone: The Maze
Release Date: July 1988
Not content with another shoot ‘em up, we’ve got a puzzle game on hand with Fantasy Zone: The Maze. I’m hesitant to call this a Pac-Man rip, because there’s a lot more to it, but it works a lot like Pac-Man. Opa-Opa has to move around a maze picking up dots (coins) and avoiding the alien baddies. There are spots where Opa-Opa can wrap around the screen to avoid his enemies and that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
Fantasy Zone then goes beyond and places powerups in set spaces on the stage. If you have enough money in your coffers, you can go over the powerup and buy it. The more you use the powerups, the more expensive they become, just like in the mainline Fantasy Zone games. The Big Wings are probably the most useful because they make you faster, allowing you to avoid the enemies more easily. They also stack, so you can go really fast if you want.
The guns come in handy if you do a bad job at enemy control. There is a master hole on each level where the first enemies spawn. As time goes by, the circle changes from black to red, where it then sends out a pulse that creates more, faster enemies. You can reset the timer by moving over the spot, but this takes you away from your coins and opens you up to problems. If you grab the wide shot when there are large clumps of enemies, you can take them out and find yourself some more coin.
There are seven planets with four rounds per planet. The last round is a bonus stage that tasks you with navigating a darkened maze to collect as many coins as you can.
Graphics are typical Fantasy Zone fare, colorful and pleasing, but nothing new.
Same goes for the music and sound effects. They’ve been recycled.
The gameplay is pretty good. If I would have been smarter with how the guns worked, I would have done better.
I think it’s a pretty fair game all around. You could probably get in to trouble with powerup prices before the end.
Fun Factor: 2.5
This is a relatively fun game from a fairly simple premise. I appreciate trying to build on the Pac-Man style.
Overall Grade: 2.6
Fantasy Zone: The Maze earns a B-. It’s nothing to scoff at and is a pretty decent game. Give it a shot.