So, how do you play the game? First, the controls. These are the standard ones, you can change them on the options screen if you have to:
Button A - Use Opa-Opa's currently equipped Special Weapon- you don't start with any, so you'll need to buy 'em.
Button B - Fire Opa-Opa's primary weapon. At the start, it's a weak Twin Shot, but it does the job.
Button C - Use a bomb, Opa-Opa's secondary weapon. At the start, it's a Single Bomb that launches from underneath Opa-Opa. IMPORTANT! You can either fire it normally, or tap forward and press the button to lunge the bomb forward, sending it further and at a higher trajectory.
Unlike most shoot-em-ups, the scrolling isn't forced, as although Opa-Opa constantly moves forward, you can change direction whenever you like, and if you really need to stop, you can stand on the floor- cute little boots come out of Opa-Opa's bottom, and he stands still. Bless 'im! You can even walk around on the bottom of the screen, if you like. Sometimes, it's even encouraged. So, you're basically given free reign over where to go, but you can't just fly about willy-nilly- there's a mission afoot...
Each stage is populated by adorably cute enemies, but there are also Enemy Generators that spew out one specific kind of enemy- your objective is to take out all the Enemy Generators on the stage, with the help of the radar that tells you where they are. Once they've all been destroyed, you fight the boss. Beat them, move to the next stage, repeat until it's all over. Couldn't be simpler, right? Well... No, it couldn't be. This is as simple as video games get. It's just that the game likes to pile enemies on-screen with little to no regard of your well-being. How are you supposed to fight against such insurmountable odds?
Through the power of capitalism, of course. At the start of every stage, the Shop Balloon will float on-screen- fly into it, and you'll be taken to the Parts Shop where, with the money you collect from your fallen foes, you can upgrade Opa-Opa's parts, from his flying speed to his armaments, giving you a fighting chance against the Dark Menon Force (The Select Balloon, incidentally, only appears when you use up all the Special Weapons you've got [like the Smart Bomb, Thunder Volt, etc.] so you won't actually see this that often). However, while the Enemy Generators drop the most cash on the stage initially, over time, they'll drop less and less, until they only drop 10 Gold! Here's how much each Gold coin is worth, by the way- it's usually difficult to see the number on a coin, but generally, the bigger they are, the more they're worth:
8: 5,000 Gold
7: 2,000 Gold
6: 1,000 Gold
5: 500 Gold
4: 200 Gold
3: 100 Gold
2: 50 Gold
1: 10 Gold
I've covered everything now, but just to be sure, let's have a gander at a standard in-game screen, shall we?
#1 - Opa-Opa (The Player) - That's you, jackass! He may look cute, but in your hands, Opa-Opa becomes a lean-mean, enemy-killin' machine.
#2 - Enemy Generator - These are the enemies you have to destroy to get the boss to appear. You'll know which ones they are- they look different on each round, but they all have a dot somewhere on their body that serves as a health indicator which goes from dark blue to dark red.
#3 - Radar - This shows your current position on the stage in relation to the Enemy Generators. The segment you're in is the one that's flashing, and you'll need the guidance- the levels wrap around for infinity.
#4 - Round No. - Tells you what Round you're on.
#5 - Remaining Ships - Tells you how many ships you've got left. When it reads 0, you're on your last one, so make it count.
#6 - Score and Gold - Displays your current score, the high score (deleted when you switch the console off) and the amount of Gold you've got- pick up Gold by grabbing the coins that enemies drop when you shoot them down.
#7 - Current Equipment - Tells you what Shot and Bomb types you've got at the moment.
#8 - Current Special Weapon - Tells you what Special Weapon you've got, and how many. You can only hold a single type at a time, max of 9.
So, here's the abridged version of the basic game flow:
★ Start the round, visit the shop and upgrade! ★
★ Fly around in any direction you like! ★
★ Destroy the Enemy Generators on your radar! ★
★ Defeat the evil boss, and move on to the next round! ★
Those are the basics for you. Now for some helpful hints and tips.
★ Keep on the beat! The levels often get very busy in this game, so don't blindly fly around the screen with wanton abandon, because it's going to get you killed. At the same time, though, don't keep still- almost every bullet (except boss bullets) is explicitly aimed at you, so if you stand still, you're a gigantic target. Also, while there technically isn't a time limit, the amount of money you get from destroying Enemy Generators decreases over time, and the longer you stay on a stage, the more enemies there are to kill you. You'll need to find a balance, so keep moving, but not so much that you'll ram into enemy ships without warning. Keep your movements deliberate and thoughtful- this is the key to success.
★ Don't go crazy at the shop! There's only so much money to go around in Super Fantasy Zone, and while it's tempting to pick up a load of crap every time you go to the Shop, keep a couple of things in mind- when you die, you lose everything you've bought, and when you buy something (aside from the Speed Upgrades) then the price will go up, and there's no limit to how high the prices can go, except for the Extra Lives. This means that if you rely too much on the Special Weapons, they'll become prohibitively expensive. Be conservative about what you buy, and you'll live longer and without regret.
★ Use the Special Weapons sensibly! You might notice, in my little guide, that I don't often suggest that you use the Special Weapons, except in a few situations. There's a couple of reasons for this. First, I'm stingy and don't like to buy too much at the Parts Shop (see above for why) and I'm also a pretty hardcore dude who prefers not to rely too much on them or abuse their power. As such, I've outlined a couple of potential uses for the Special Weapons on the Parts Shop page and in the guide itself for you to try, but the best thing to do is to mess around with them to see what works for you. If they help you kill a tough boss, then great, but don't become dependant on them, otherwise your wallet will start to suffer.
★ Learn the 'Killer Loop' Technique! A daft name, maybe, but it's a nice technique from the original Fantasy Zone that works a treat on the Enemy Generators when you can't be bothered with buying a Laser Beam or 7-Way Shots. For this trick, you'll need the Twin Bombs, and what you have to do is approach an Enemy Generator, then start a rolling motion with your thumb on the D-Pad. Opa-Opa should start moving in a tight circle if you've got this bit right. Then just lunge the bombs at the enemy when you're facing the right way, and this usually kills them faster than just shooting at them. It's really hard to explain this technique, but once you get it down, it makes things a lot easier. If you try to bomb it repeatedly without circling on yourself, you'll have to keep moving back, but the Killer Loop Technique gets you into a pattern that's easy to replicate, and gets results for you. Maybe at some point I'll whip up a video showing what I mean...
★ Never give up! Trust your instincts! The fact that the game doesn't let you continue might put you off from even trying- why bother, when all you'll get in the end is failure? Well, that's defeatist talk, missy, and I won't stand for it. The more you play Super Fantasy Zone, the more you'll get used to all the little quirks, and eventually you'll get good enough to get further. Don't surrender just because you get a Game Over- keep at it, try some of the strategies I suggest, and you'll beat this tough cookie. Then you can do it all again on Hard and tell me if the ending changes, because Le-Picker on Hard is akin to slamming my head against a wall.
Back on the main Super Fantasy Zone page, there are no animated gifs of Opa-Opa. Rejoice!