Friday Feb 20, 2015
SEGA’s Hardlight Studio and Creative Assembly are teaming up with the SpecialEffect UK Charity for the GameBlast15 nationwide gaming marathon!
Today, February 20th from 4pm to midnight GMT (8am – 4pm PST), Hardlight will stream classic Sega console games and mobile games designed by the studio on SEGA’s Twitch Channel.
Tomorrow, Saturday 21st starting at 10am GMT and ending 10am GMT Sunday, Creative Assembly will stream Total War: ATTILA on the Total War Twitch Channel.
Many Hardlight and Creative Assembly employees have personally donated to SpecialEffect in previous years during GameBlast, but this time we wanted to participate by streaming our games to help raise money for this great cause.
The SpecialEffect charity puts fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them play video games using technology ranging from modified joypads to eye-control, finding a way for people to play to the very best of their abilities. By leveling the playing field, they bring families and friends together and having a profoundly positive impact on therapy, confidence and rehabilitation.
Show your support by tuning and and feel free to donate!
Sega Twitch account: http://www.twitch.tv/sega
Tuesday Feb 17, 2015
Are you having trouble with 3D Fantasy Zone? Are you trying to enter our contest, or are just having trouble getting through the game? We’ve got you covered! We pulled together a few quick tips and tricks that well help you out, as a few secrets you might not have known about!
Hidden Rapid Shot Speed
One of the best features of 3D Fantasy Zone is the Rapid Shot option for your primary and secondary weapons. No more button mashing, no more hand cramps, defeat enemies and bosses with ease! But wait, there’s more …
By default, you can select two different speeds of Rapid Shot, but there’s a hidden third speed that you may not know about. To unlock, press and hold down the “A” button while on the fastest shot speed, then wait for 5 seconds while continuing to hold “A”, and pow – three speeds of auto fire!
Earn One Million Coins and Upgrade!
If you are still having trouble reaching the one million coins in our SEGA Classic Contest, then this is the section for you. Earning one million coins not only adds a second entry into our contest, it also unlocks a new feature – extended usage of weapon upgrades. This means more Wide Beam, Laser Beam, or 7 Way Shot while playing in any level in the game!
1. Take only $6000 into the round (or less if you prefer), reduce your Number of Lives to 1, and activate Base Markers in the options.
New Unlocks at Two Million and Three Million Coins
While the extended weapon time is nice at one million coins, the upgrades at two million and three million are even better. At two million coins you’ll unlock ‘Gold Rush’, which will give you double money for each enemy or base destroyed. This makes it much easier to reach one of the all new hidden bosses in the game, but we’ll get to that in another post …
At three million coins you’ll unlock the Unlimited Weapon Time upgrade. Now you’ll never run out of your primary weapon and can use 7 way shot forever. This can make the game a little easy, but it can also increase your chances of beating the last level and unlocking Upa-Upa mode!
Have a Strategy? Share it!
We hope these quick tips help you get through the game and see all the features within 3D Fantasy Zone! If you have a strategy or special tip that you’d like to highlight, let us know in the comments below.
Tuesday Feb 17, 2015
The Dark Ages approach. A time of famine, disease and war, where refugees in their thousands flee from a sweeping tide of destruction and death. Desperate barbaric tribes rally against the ailing might of a dying and divided Roman empire; the light of civilization gutters and dims. In the great steppes of Scythia, a vast and terrifying force gathers, led by a warrior king whose thirst for conquest is utterly unequaled.
The Scourge of God, the very herald of the apocalypse, Attila the Hun.
In the next installment in the multi award-winning Total War series of strategy games, Total War: ATTILA introduces exciting new gameplay mechanics which improve and add to numerous core turn-based and real-time Total War systems. The world will darken around you as Attila’s forces descend on your homeland creating a unique vision of survival strategy.
Thursday Feb 12, 2015
The rematch of the heavyweight strategy gaming contest they said could never happen is back for 2015! Total War: ROME II and Company of Heroes 2 communities go head to head in the second annual ‘Make War Not Love’ competition. This Valentine’s Day weekend, the two communities will compete in consecutive three hour rounds. Every in-game victory will count towards that side’s tally for the round and the community that wins the most rounds will earn some free DLC for players of the respective game.
Battle commences at 18:00GMT/10:00PST today and blows will be traded until 18:00GMT/10:00PST on February 15. During this time, both games will be available to play for free via Steam! Get involved in the pre-match trash talking on Twitter by following @totalwar and @companyheroes using the hashtag – “#mwnl”.
If Company of Heroes 2 Wins …
If Company of Heroes 2 wins, an assortment of premium skins and commanders worth around $20 will become available to download for free from 18:00GMT/10:00PST on February 16 until 18:00GMT/10:00PST on February 18.
If Total War: ROME II Wins …
If Total War: ROME II lands the knockout blow, the Black Sea Colonies Culture Pack will be made available for free from 18:00GMT/10:00PST on February 15 until 18:00GMT/10:00PST on February 17. The previously unannounced Longbeards Culture Pack for Total War: ATTILA will also be free for a day when it launches in late February.
Wait, There’s More Things and They Explode!
To add some extra spice to proceedings, the winning team in each round will see their community manager take a shot on the ‘Make War Not Love’ Shooting Range, choosing from a selection of random historical weaponry and taking aim at offensive Valentine’s trinkets. Make sure you catch all the carnage in merciless slo-mo! There will even be exclusive Steam achievements to pick up throughout the promotion! Look out for “Company of Zeroes, more like…” and “Snore, snore, Total Bore!” along with several more.
“We beat them last year. We’ll beat them again,” said Cynthia Griffiths, Associate Community Manager for Company of Heroes 2, while picking bits of Centurion out of the tread of an M4 Sherman. “We’re confident that spears and shields will continue to be no match for our heavy artillery and automatic weapons. To arms! ”
Thursday Feb 12, 2015
This year’s British Academy Games Awards will take place on 12 March, showcasing and rewarding the very best games of the past 12 months. A total of 51 games have been recognised across 17 categories, with Alien: Isolation from Creative Assembly the most nominated game at this year’s awards with an incredible six nominations, across the following categories:
• Audio Achievement
Sports Interactive’s Football Manager 2015 has also been nominated in the Sport category.
Congratulations to the teams at Creative Assembly and Sports Interactive for their nominations in these prestigious awards and best of luck at the awards next month!
Thursday Feb 12, 2015
3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros is available today on the Nintendo 3DS eShop!
3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. is the popular side-scrolling shooter, first released for the SEGA System-16 board in 1986, in which players control a sentient spaceship named Opa-Opa to fight bizarre invader enemies. The re-mastered version combines stereoscopic 3D visuals with a host of additional features to deliver cutting edge gameplay with a classic feel. 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros. also introduces a new feature called the “coin stock” system that allows players to accumulate coins for use across play sessions and to unlock in-game abilities. Furthermore, the game features an unlockable mode in which players are able to play as Upa-Upa, the little brother of Opa-Opa, upon completion of the game.
Read the Interview!
We’ve also released an incredibly in depth interview detailing the creation of the game by developer M2. You can find it in two parts here:
Enter the Contest!
We’re also running a special contest with a chance to win a classic SEGA hoodie for performing a few challenges in game. Play the game, beat a few challenges, take some photos, submit them online, and you could be one of our 10 winners in this month’s contest.
Wednesday Feb 11, 2015
The SEGA 3D Classics Classic Contest Continues! Last month we unveiled our monthly contest with 3D After Burner II and we’re back with our newest SEGA 3D Classic, 3D Fantasy Zone. For each game, we’re having players complete a few skill challenges to be entered into a classic SEGA prize – our super popular SEGA controller hoodie.
Classic Games, Classic Contest
Back when these SEGA Classic games were available in arcades, there was a contest style of taking a photo of yourself alongside game progress, results screens, or with credits. We’re bringing that back – each month, with each release of a new SEGA 3D Classic, we’re offering up a few challenges to complete in the games. A chance to take a photo and show off your successes, and get entered into a drawing for prizes.
Classic Contest, Classic Prize
Our prize for all of the 3D Classic Contests is a very special SEGA hoodie. We’ve changed the design slightly based on feedback, the hoodie is now a deep navy blue color with grey contrasting hood and drawstrings. The controllers are embroidered with the same grey color to match. We’re really proud of how these turned out and we’re offering them up to 10 winners per contest!
How to Enter
For 3D Fantasy Zone we kicked around a lot of ideas on what sort of challenges we wanted players to complete. Make it too hard and it would be frustrating, too easy and it wouldn’t be fun. So we think we’ve settled on a pretty good balance that also highlights a new key feature – the Coin Bank.
Challenge #1: Get the high score in the local leaderboard. With a bit of practice, everyone should be able to complete this without too much trouble.
Challenge #2: Get 1 Million Coins and Unlock the Weapon Time upgrade. This should challenge both new and returning fans of Fantasy Zone. You’ll need to monitor your spending from the coin bank while maximizing coins earned.
Then email a photo of your screen beating the challenge and submit it to Sega3DClassics@sega.com with the subject, “SEGA 3D Classics Classic Sweepstakes – 3D Fantasy Zone.” In the body of the email provide your first/last name, email address, state and country of residence, your age and date of birth. Easy!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. See Official Rules at http://blogs.sega.com/?p=20502 for FREE entry. Open to legal residents of the United States, D.C. and any member state within the E.U. excluding residents of U.S. territories, possessions and overseas military installations, 13 years of age or older. Ends 2/25/15 at 11:59:59 PM PT.
Classic Official Rules
Sega of America, Inc.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.
(1) Description – Sega of America, Inc. (the “Sponsor”) is offering “SEGA 3D Classics Classic Sweepstakes Series” (the “Classic Promotion Series”). The Classic Promotion Series consist of (8) separate sweepstakes (“Sweepstakes”). In all Sweepstakes in the Classic Promotion Series winners will be determined and prizes awarded on the basis of random selection from eligible entrants. The Fantasy Zone Sweepstakes (“Promotion”) begins at 12:00:01 AM Pacific Time (“PT”) on February 11, 2015 and ends at 11:59:59 PM PT on February 25, 2015 (“Sweepstakes Period”).
By participating in the Promotion, each entrant unconditionally accepts and agrees to comply with and abide by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which shall be final and binding in all respects. By participating in the Promotion, participants agree to release, discharge and hold harmless Facebook and Promotion Entities (defined below) from any and all damages whether direct or indirect, which may be due to or arise out of participation in the Promotion or any portion thereof, or the acceptance, use/misuse or possession of prizes provided for or in connection with the Promotion. Further, the Promotion Entities do not make any warranty, representation, or guarantee, express or implied, in fact or in law, relative to the use of any prize, including, without limitation, quality, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose. Further, no responsibilities are accepted by Sponsor or any other Promotion Entities for any additional expenses, omissions, delays, re-routing, or acts of any government or authority.
(2) Eligibility – The Promotion is open only to legal residents of the United States, the District of Columbia and any member state within the European Union who are eighteen (18) years of age or older at time of entry and individuals between the ages of thirteen (13) and seventeen (17) who have the permission to enter of a parent or legal guardian who agrees to be bound by these Official Rules.
Employees, officers and directors of the Sponsor, its parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, divisions, advertising, promotional, fulfillment and marketing agencies (collectively “Promotion Entities”), their immediate families (parent, child, sibling & spouse) and persons living in the same households of such individuals (whether related or not), are not eligible to participate in the Promotion.
Void in Puerto Rico, all other U.S. territories and possessions, overseas military installations, and where prohibited by law, rule or regulation. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.
(3) How to Enter – There are two (2) ways to enter:
Via Game Purchase and Game Play –
• Continue game play to collect one (1) million coins and take a photo displaying the coin bank at this value (your “Million Coin Picture”). To receive one (1) additional entry send an email to Sega3DClassics@sega.com, attach your Million Coin Picture to the email, enter “Million Coin Entry ” in the subject line and in the body of the email provide your first/last name, email address, state and country of residence, your age and date of birth.
FREE Entry by email –
There is a limit of two (2) entries per person regardless of entry method and a limit of one (1) prize per person for the entire Classic Promotion Series.
Any attempt by any entrant to obtain more than the stated number of entries by using multiple/different/duplicitous e-mail addresses, the use of a sweepstakes service, the use of multiple identities, registrations and logins, or any other methods will void that entrant’s entries and that entrant may be disqualified. Entries that are incomplete, late, or contain irregular or invalid information, or are corrupted are void and will not be accepted.
There are a total of ten (10) prizes, with a total ARV of all prizes of three hundred U.S. dollars ($300). The odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received.
(6) Prize Awarding – Winners will be selected in a random drawing from all eligible entries conducted by Sponsor on or about February 27th, 2015. Potential winners will be contacted within one (1) business day of the drawing by the e-mail address associated with their entry (“Prize Notification”) and provided with a Prize Claim Document (“PCD”), which must be returned to Sponsor within five (5) days of the Prize Notification. If any potential winner is between the ages of thirteen (13) and seventeen (17), his/her parent or legal guardian must complete the PCD with his/her information and accept the prize on behalf of their minor. Non-compliance with any of these requirements and/or the return of Prize Notification as undeliverable will result in disqualification, winner’s forfeiture of the prize and (at Sponsor’s sole discretion), and the selection of an alternate winner. Any unclaimed prizes will not be awarded.
Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for Sponsor to use winner’s name for advertising and promotional purposes as Sponsor so determines without notice or further compensation, except where prohibited by law. Prize recipient shall not be permitted to (a) replace his/her designated prize with another prize or item, (b) transfer or assign his/her designated prize to another person, or (c) substitute any prize or prize component for cash. In the event of unavailability, Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All federal, state, local, and other taxes on prizes, (including any applicable import taxes on prizes) are the sole responsibility of the person accepting the prize.
(7) General – All decisions of the Sponsor in any matter relating to this Promotion shall be binding and final. If there are fewer eligible entries than the number of available prizes, any unclaimed prizes will not be awarded. Sponsor is not responsible for technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunctioning of any computer, cable, network, hardware, software, or web site. Sponsor is not responsible for lost, interrupted or unavailable network server or other connections, miscommunications, failed telephone or computer or telephone transmissions or technical failure, jumbled, scrambled or misdirected transmissions, late, lost or mis-directed mail, for incorrect or inaccurate entry information, howsoever caused, or other error of any kind whether human, mechanical or electronic. Entrants found tampering with or abusing any aspect of this Promotion, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified. If disqualified for any of the above abuses, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate entrant’s eligibility to participate in the Promotion. Any attempt by any person to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of the Promotion may be in violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. Sponsor’s failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. Sponsor reserves the right to terminate, cancel, suspend and/or modify the Promotion if any fraud, virus or other technical problem corrupts the administration, security, or proper play of the Promotion, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. In such event, Sponsor reserves the right to select winners and award prizes at random from among the eligible entries received up to the time of the impairment. The Promotion and the rights and obligations of Sponsor and entrants will be governed by and controlled by the laws of the state of California, applicable to contracts made and performed therein without reference to the applicable choice of law provisions. All actions, proceedings or litigation relating hereto will be instituted and prosecuted, without resort to any form of class action, solely within the state courts of California located in San Francisco, California and federal courts located within such state and county with respect to any action, dispute or other matter pertaining to or arising out of the Promotion. In the event any provision of these Official Rules will be held to be unenforceable, these Official Rules will continue in full force and effect without such provision.
(8) Winner Information – Winners will be announced at on or about March 16, 2015.
Sega of America, Inc.
© SEGA. ALL rights reserved. SEGA is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. SEGA, the SEGA logo, and Fantasy Zone are either registered trademarks or trademarks of SEGA Corporation.
Tuesday Feb 10, 2015
Today we continue where we left off yesterday with our 3D Fantasy Zone interview with Yosuke Okunari (SEGA of Japan) and Naoki Horii (President of M2). If you’ve not already, be sure to head over to part 1 and catch up on the detailed intro about the game.
Upa-Upa Mode – A new challenge for both the players and developers!
– Alright, let me ask you about this new “Upa-Upa Mode” that you’ve added in this time.
YO: Right. The “Grantanoff”* this time around is the Upa-Upa Mode.
*Check out the 3D After Burner II interview for details about “Grantanoff.”
NH: This all started very early on when we were thinking about adding a mode that would be easier than the original Fantasy Zone. The reason we made this Upa-Upa was— Well, you know how in the arcade version of Fantasy Zone, Opa-Opa is all by himself. But there was a two-player co-op mode in the game Opa-Opa*, and Upa-Upa made his first appearance there. However, Upa-Upa hasn’t really made any appearances ever since Galactic Protector*. We thought this was a bit of a shame.
YO: To help celebrate the character’s return, we went as far as to add a subtitle: Opa-Opa Brothers. There is another reason we added the subtitle, though. You know, in the previous title, 3D After Burner II, we put in the Special Mode, which I think is pretty amazing, but…
NH: There are a couple of people out there who’ve played it, I’m sure. We really appreciate it.
YO: But looking at the reaction, it seems a lot of people thought it was a pretty vanilla port, on par with a Virtual Console conversion. It makes me think that people who don’t play with the 3D didn’t really notice that we’d added a new mode. Or perhaps people didn’t play it all the way to the end. I mean, we put all that work in to add the additional content in there. If people who actually bought the game ended up putting it down before they discovered the extra content, we need to do more to encourage them to play it, you know? So we put a subtitle on the game so it’s easy for people to know that there’s extra content. Give it a little bit of new-game pizazz. So there you have it. Opa-Opa Brothers.
– I see
YO: But Koga-san also had this idea to that it’d be pretty interesting if we made a Fantasy Zone that used the Touch Screen to allow players to switch between weapons. I agreed, but if we just made it so you could switch using the Touch Screen, everyone would just end up using 7WAY Shots. (laughs) So we decided to make it so you had to use money to choose the weapons. Perhaps we should actually ask Koga-san himself about it.
Keisuke Koga (below KK): Hi, I’m Koga. Nice to meet you.
NH: Koga here was our main game designer for the System-16 version* of Fantasy Zone II back when we were doing the Fantasy Zone Complete Collection. So we went and left this version of Fantasy Zone to him as well.
* The original arcade version of Fantasy Zone II was a port of the Sega Mark III (Master System) version (the original version). As a result, it ran on the System E arcade board, which was similar in specs to the Mark III, but inferior in specs to the System-16 board. For the 2008 release of the Fantasy Zone Complete Collection, M2 remastered Fantasy Zone II to be a full-fledged version that took advantage of the System-16’s graphical capabilities.
– So let’s talk about Upa-Upa Mode. Upa-Upa has never really been in the spotlight before, so the mode is very interesting. How did this come into being?
KK: When you compare Fantasy Zone to the other arcade games in the 3D Remaster Project, it’s not one of those interactive physical-style arcade cabinets. I felt really bad that we couldn’t include any cabinet-related options, such as the machine sounds or the screen modes.
At that point, I resolved to add in some kind of new game mode, but then I heard that we were adding a new game mode to 3D After Burner II, which was being developed at the time. That made me feel like including some sort of new remix style content was going to be a requirement for the second round of 3D Remake Project titles.
– So the existence of a Special Mode in 3D After Burner II had an effect on 3D Fantasy Zone.
KK: Yes, that’s right. That said, even if we try to remix content in a way that changes the game balance, such as 3D After Burner II’s Special Mode, in the case of Fantasy Zone, if you give the player rapid fire, they can get through any situation just by using that. But if we take away rapid fire completely the difficulty level would be too high to play on the 3DS. So we decided to try to create some new content that you couldn’t clear just by using rapid fire.
In the past, we had a problem in the System-16 version of Fantasy Zone II where if you had a special weapon in the Weapon 2 slot, you wouldn’t be able to fire your single or twin bombs. We fixed this and removed the limit by making it so you could charge to fire. We wanted to something similar this time as well, where we got rid of limited use weapons. But rather than resorting to some sort of option that you switch on and off like a cheat, I wanted to build it into the game system itself somehow.
YO: For this second round of 3D Remake Project games, I’ve been talking with M2 about properly designing out these game modes, rather than just tacking them on via the options.
KK: In the beginning, I wanted it to be that Weapon 1 (main shot) and Weapon 2 could be used as long as you had the money to do so. So I tried a system focused on first-time players where you could basically use money instead of rapid fire. But it ended up being a little too easy, so I gave up on it and instead added a Challenge Mode for people who think the original game is a bit too easy.
NH: We understand that if you just crank up the difficulty, you’re just going to get pummeled by fast moving bullets in later stages, so for Upa-Upa Mode, enemies come out in droves from the beginning, and while they shoot at you, their bullets move very slowly.
KK: From an internal game standpoint, the game level is raised and the enemies are all trigger happy, but the bullet speed is set to a speed of 0.75, a value not used in the original programming. So, this is something that would never occur in the original Opa-Opa Mode.
And as I said earlier, since this is the 3DS we are talking about, the Touch Screen can now be used to swap weapons as well.
NH: Just seeing all the weapons lined up on the lower screen makes you feel happy, doesn’t it?
KK: Yes, and as a result, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of adding some content that’s quite appropriate for 3DS.
– And why did you make the main character Upa-Upa instead of Opa-Opa?
KK: Since the weapon system changes the normal gameplay, we wanted it to be easy to tell the difference, and we decided to leave that role to Upa-Upa.
Upa-Upa fights alongside Opa-Opa as a palette-swapped second player character in Opa-Opa and Galactic Protector, and Opa-Opa is a prequel to Fantasy Zone. But you never learn what happens to Upa-Upa after Opa-Opa ends. He makes an appearance in the anime Zillion, but he’s not really the same as the in-game character.
Compared to the warrior hero Opa-Opa, it’s a bit of a sad situation for Upa-Upa, and I was worried that if we didn’t put him in here, he wouldn’t have a chance to make an appearance for perhaps another decade. So we decided to put him in. Incidentally, we put a lot of thought into his coloring, since it’s different depending on the title you are referring to. Though it’s not like there were a lot of options to choose from in the first place, we ultimately went with the thing that sets him apart from Opa-Opa: the red canopy.
NH: We’ve also refined the story while staying true to the original version as well.
KK: At first we were thinking that Upa-Upa had taken advantage of a financial meltdown to accumulate vast amounts of wealth by playing the market, and was using those funds to use weapons freely. That idea was rejected, though. In any case, I’m hoping Upa-Upa will put in another appearance someday.
NH: The picking up of coins in Upa-Upa Mode is the same as normal Fantasy Zone, but it’s kind of as if the money that Opa-Opa is putting away for a rainy day is being skimmed off by Upa-Upa, and Upa-Upa can buy weapons using that money. All you have to do is tap the lower screen to choose the weapon you’d like, so if you want to pump 7WAY SHOTS into the boss character, you can. It feels really good.
YO: And by the way, to select Upa-Upa mode, you’ll need to clear the original version once. By the time you clear the game once, you’ll have a pretty sizable stock of cash to use. The game feels different than when you play as Opa-Opa, so I hope everyone will enjoy how it feels to play as Upa-Upa.
KK: I’d like to see people start it with $0 and try to clear it.
– The fighting is pretty intense even from Round 1, so it seems like it’d be pretty rough with just a Single Shot and the Twin Bomb. I think a lot of people will be happy with the new way it feels, though. Looking forward to everyone’s reaction. Thank you so much, Koga-san.
YO: Upa-Upa’s standard equipment is the Single Shot and Twin Bomb, but they’re not all that powerful. If you spend the money, you can add on three types of weapons on each of Shot 1 and Shot 2, so you’ll need to consider when you are going to use them.
That said, the WIDE BEAM costs $100 per shot, and the LASER is $200 per second, and 7WAY SHOTS are $500 a pop, so things are on the pricy side. If you shoot rapidly, you’re going to find yourself broke. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to come back, so like we said: it’s a different kind of gameplay.
NH: If you just look at a still screenshot of Upa-Upa Mode, it just looks like a differently-colored Opa-Opa. But when you actually play it, you’ll see the difference. We put some work into it.
YO: Oh, and there is this thing I didn’t really ask them to do, but M2 suggested that we should change the first round music, since it’s called “Opa-Opa!” So they created a new song called “Upa-Upa!” (laughs).
NH: I’d have a hard time answering you if you asked me what makes it “Upa-Upa,” but it’s a new Fantasy Zone¬-esque song, either way.
YO: The song was done by Chibi-Tech-san*. She’s worked on a few things for us such as the Menu BGM for SEGA AGES ONLINE (aka SEGA VINTAGE COLLECTION), and she’s rather good at creating songs that really capture the themes of each game. So she created a Fantasy Zone-styled song that captures Upa-Upa’s carefree style—well, we sort of made up the fact that Upa-Upa’s style is carefree. But we think it really captures it.
* Chibi-Tech – A sound composer at M2. She’s been in charge of sound for other M2 titles such as AHOGE CHANBARA on mobile, as well as remixing soundtracks for G.rev’s Kokuga for 3DS.
– This song not only feels like it’s a Fantasy Zone song, but it also vaguely reminds me of Fantasy Zone II. It feels right at home. That reminds me, there is a Fantasy Zone album being released on March 26th, 2013, right? Is “Upa-Upa!” going to be on it?
YO: Actually, it is! When we released 3D Space Harrier, the soundtrack was released at the same time, and we heard some people were disappointed that the new track added to the 3DS version wasn’t on the album. So this time we went and added it as a bonus track. You could just go and buy only the bonus track, so don’t worry if you already happen to own the CD.
– Oh! Well thanks for being so thoughtful about it!
Spoiler Alert – Options Galore, and a Word About The Next Title?
YO: Oh, that reminds me. I forgot to mention this, but we’ve really fleshed out the options this time. For the people reading the interviews I’d to talk about the spots in the menus that are hidden by question marks. You can lengthen the time limits for weapons and increase how much money the enemies drop.
As for unlock conditions, it comes down to how much money you’ve saved, so if you play the game with that in mind, the game will get easier and easier for you, since playing the game gets you more money.
– The money the unlock requirement is referring to is your coin stock?
YO: That’s right. So if you use the Round Select feature or use too much money in Upa-Upa Mode, you might find it rather hard to fulfill the requirements.
– So you’ll need to be responsible with your money, huh? (laughs)
YO: Yes. Oh, and then there are the staff credits, which M2 puts a lot of work into every time. Horii-san was talking about this earlier, but Koga-san poured all his passion for Fantasy Zone into it.
NH: Oh yeah, that. That whole thing is pretty much made completely from our own internal tools. The programmers just display what’s handed to them, so it’s pretty heavy on the processor.
YO: We get positive feedback on the staff credits for the arcade ports every time, and they’ve gone crazy with it this time, too. It’s separate from the game, but I hope everyone will get a glimpse of Koga-san’s feelings toward this game. Please give it a look.
NH: For me, I think if people come out and say, “I wanna play this!” then things might get a little interesting.
YO: That seems like it would be a rather long road considering that it has this much frame drop and it’s only just displaying what’s on screen.
– I always try to avoid watching these when I’m gathering up info for these articles, so I’m looking forward to watching this. (Watches the credits) (Giggles)
YO: No one ends up watching the actual credits on the lower screen.
NH: That’s right. And the frame rate on the lower screen is so low.
– Yeah, I think there’s definitely going to be some fans that are going to want to play this.
NH: I know, right? I was thinking it’d be interesting if it had a control scheme like Geometry Wars.
YO: If 3D Fantasy Zone ends up being the top seller of the 3D Remaster series, you never know.
NH: Even though Thunder Blade is currently not even in the cards…
YO: Well, by the time that happens, we might be able to convince some people.
– (laughs) Well, it’s certainly fun. Everyone who buys it should take a look.
NH: Well, we do silly stuff, like always. I would like to state for the record in this interview that the schedule was delayed by about a month because of Koga’s antics. I haven’t really come down on the guy for it, but I’m stating it here for all posterity! He went off and did what he wanted as the game designer, and pushed the game out by a month. As punishment, next time I’m going to put him in charge of schedule management, too.
– (laughs) But, don’t you want to play this when you see it?
YO: Picking up from where they left on off on the System-16 Fantasy Zone II, I’d like everyone to check out M2’s passion for Fantasy Zone in this new. game, too.
NH: When we were told that it’s okay to move forward and make Fantasy Zone, I thought, “You guys aren’t considering the overseas market, are you?” Is that going to be okay?
YO: As far as I can tell, it should be fine. But of course, it all depends on the fan reaction going forward.
And last of all, I hope to announce the next game as soon as I can, so collect that money in 3D Fantasy Zone and stay tuned!
– (laughs) Thank you very much for your time, and I’m looking forward to hearing about the next game!
Thanks for Reading!
The end! You made it! This concludes part 2 of our 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Brothers. We’d love to hear your feedback on all the extras discussed here, and especially your feedback when you play the game this Thursday!
Monday Feb 09, 2015
This week we launch another SEGA 3D Classic on the Nintendo eShop with 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Brothers! We also launch part 1 of our interview with Yosuke Okunari (SEGA of Japan) and Naoki Horii (President of M2) with a ton of new details about the creation of the game. We hope you enjoy!
Thanks again to Game Watch and Impress, Okunari-san, and Horii-san for their involvement in making these interviews available to our western audience. Special thanks to our producer Sam for translating these interviews for everyone’s enjoyment.
A Little about the Arcade Version of Fantasy Zone
Fantasy Zone, the second game created for SEGA’s System-16 arcade board, was released in 1986. Comprised of a MC68000 and a Z80, the System-16 board was considered to be a more general-purpose version of the “Harrier Board” employed by Space Harrier, which was equipped with two MC68000 microprocessors. There were two versions of the board, labeled “A” and “B,” with the latter featuring sprite zooming capabilities (maximum of 128 sprites on-screen at once), though those features were not available when Fantasy Zone was released. The sound source was a YM2151.
Fantasy Zone is a side-scrolling shooter, somewhat of a rarity for a SEGA title, that features a single joystick with two buttons. The game’s protagonist, Opa-Opa, utilizes shots and bombs to destroy ten enemy bases located throughout each stage. Destroying these bases triggers the boss battle. Defeating enemies and bases causes them to drop coins, which the player can pick up. Once enough have been collected, a balloon-shaped shop will appear. By touching this ship, they player can spend coins on things such as upgraded guns, bombs, engines, and extra lives which can only be obtained via the shop. This feature was unique at the time, and gave the game its sense of originality. Technically speaking, there were four versions of the arcade ROM, with the OLD and NEW Japanese versions making an appearance in 3D Fantasy Zone. The other two international OLD/NEW versions, which are quite rare, featured the ability to continue.
This game was ported to a number of home consoles, including the Mark III (Master System), Famicom, PC Engine, X68000, SEGA Saturn, etc. This version is the second release of Fantasy Zone by M2, with the first being the Japan-only SEGA AGES 2500 Vol. 33 Fantasy Zone Complete Collection for PlayStation 2.
Fantasy Zone, in unrelenting 3D!
– Alright, so the second game in the second batch of the 3D Remaster Project is Fantasy Zone, so I’m here once again to chat with you guys about it. Thank you again for having me. Okay, first off, as always, why did you choose Fantasy Zone?
Yosuke Okunari (below YO): I may have mentioned this when we were talking about 3D After Burner II, but for the 3D Remaster Project’s second batch, we wanted to work on games that we knew would make the domestic Japanese users really happy. So the reason we chose Fantasy Zone was because it’s very Japan-focused. The reality is this game is practically unknown overseas. The arcade version was hardly ever distributed outside Japan.
Naoki Horii (below NH): It’s pretty impressive that you still know stuff like that.
YO: The people overseas who know this game probably played the Master System version. They probably never played the arcade version back when it was originally out. Most of them, at least. There is a ROM version that’s dubbed the “International Version (US ver.),” but compared to Japan, it saw very limited distribution. I get the impression that there was a board that was distributed with the intention of it being the “International Version,” but when compared to other titles that saw widespread circulation, like Altered Beast or Golden Axe, it’s pretty unknown.
However, on the other hand the game was extremely popular in Japan. There was the arcade version, and then there was a Mark III / Master System version released shortly after that was one of the driving forces behind that console’s hardware uptake. And then a year later, Sunsoft released a well-made version for the Famicom. This port onto the major hardware platform at the time helped drive the game’s popularity. Then there was another port to the PC Engine / TurboGrafx 16 a year after that, and this contributed again to its fame, similar to Space Harrier. Basically, its appearance on all of the major players of the 8-bit generation of consoles was the key factor in the game’s popularity.
NH: Huh. So that’s why everyone knows it.
YO: We are able to bring the arcade version back due to the strong domestic response to the SEGA 3D Remaster Project.
NH: So what you’re saying is due to the response to 3D After Burner II, it’s okay to go and pick up Thunder Blade, right…?
YO: Well, 3D After Burner II might need to work a little harder before we can do that…
– (laughs) In terms of genre, Fantasy Zone is a first for the 3D Remaster Project in that it’s a side-scrolling shooter
YO: SEGA didn’t have a lot of shooting games that weren’t played from a 3D perspective. In the arcade, there were Sonic Boom and Scramble Spirits for vertical shooters, and we had games like Astro Flash for our side-scroll shooter lineup.
– So there weren’t many of these standard side-scrolling shooters.
YO: Aurail and Heavy Metal. I mean, I can keep throwing these out, so it’s not like we didn’t have any at all. But if you try to narrow it down to the ones we made internally, there really weren’t many.
– And despite that, Fantasy Zone is remarkable in the fact that it was well-known and a SEGA-made side-scrolling shooter. That’s what makes it seem quite special.
YO: This time around, in addition to the staff who have been working on our projects up to now, we also added team members who worked on the System-16 version of Fantasy Zone II for the Fantasy Zone Complete Collection. The project began as a kind of follow-up to that version of Fantasy Zone II*.
* NOTE: Fantasy Zone II was originally developed for the Mark III / Master System, and when ported back to the arcade, it ran on a board called the System E. This board featured specs very similar to the Mark III / Master System, which was technically inferior to the System-16. The version of Fantasy Zone II in the Fantasy Zone Complete Collection is a remastered version that runs on System-16, and thus is of higher quality.
As far as stereoscopic 3D is concerned, we are pretty fixated on the details at this point now that we are on the 10th game in our series. Based on what we did with 3D Shinobi III, we put a lot of work into the 3D work for the backgrounds. There is a real sense of 3D now.
NH: Just looking at it, it seems as if every single pixel has some depth associated with it. However, from a technical standpoint, we didn’t have the leeway to actually go that far. We were able to split either the background or foreground into up to 4 layers, and we had a good deal of freedom in adding depth to the text, though it’s about 8 pixels tall.
YO: I suppose it’s a bit as if we brought the Giga Drive to System-16.
NH: Theoretically speaking, we can do a little more than the Giga Drive. We can assign each ‘cell’ to any of the 4 levels of depth, though there are some limits to that. And if you have a cell that crosses multiple depth levels, we can place individual ‘chips.’ It’s actually possible to go even further with the 3D-enabled System-16 (I call it the “System-16E”) but that’s as far as we went this time after we took the limits of our development tools and brains into account.
YO: When we talk about our previous 3D Mega Drive games, it’s important to note all those games were 2D action games. So we started by taking the side-scrolling screens and making them 3D. And that’s why we chose the Mega Drive version for our first game, 3D Altered Beast, since it used scrolling layers for a 3D effect. After we built up more experience with 3D Ecco the Dolphin, we were able to take the original single-layer backgrounds of 3D Shinobi III and add depth to them.
NH: Yes, so now we can take a single background layer, and split it up into multiple ones. And this time we’ve gone and done the same on System-16.
YO: This is pretty well-known by people who followed Fantasy Zone back in the day, but Denpa Shinbunsha (Micomsoft) X68000 version actually supported stereoscopic 3D*, with scrolling layers similar to what we did with 3D Altered Beast. But for 3D Fantasy Zone, we were able to create a look very close to multiple layer scrolling, similar to 3D Shinobi III and 3D Streets of Rage. We’ve really brought a sense of depth to what was originally a flat image.
* The X68000 had a 3D port, which required an adapter to connect the ‘Famicom 3D System’ Glasses, which employed ‘active shuttering’ using LCD to create the 3D effect. When Fantasy Zone was released, the adapter was not available, so Micomsoft published instructions on how to build the adapter from scratch.
NH: For example in Round 1, every plant in the foreground has depth. This is something we were able to do for the first time in this game.
– I was really surprised when I played it, but even the enemy bases are in 3D now!
NH: We were able to do that because we doubled the number of objects being used.
YO: The fact that the characters themselves are 3D is one of the interesting points this time around.
NH: The Round 1 enemy bases (called dorarinfura) have their center sections sort of popping out, and the bases in Round 2 (called baibaapu) have both hands sticking out.
YO: The 3D adds a sense of roundness to the characters.
NH: We actually wanted to add 3D to the bosses as well. We actually did have 3D on them. But when you would defeat one, the 3D would get messed up when they’d break apart. So unfortunately we had to give up on it. But there are some situations, like Round 2’s boss (Boranda), where we put in 3D processing since the parts don’t get messed up when they break apart.
YO: It’s something that’s easier said than done. What they’ve done here is even more work than what we did on the Giga Drive.
NH: Explaining the way the background 3D works is rather difficult with just words, so we’ve gone and prepared a graphic for you. Simply put, in order to show a 2D graphic in 3D, you have to show what’s behind things in the background and what things look like from the sides. Things that you couldn’t see in a single layer screen. That’s all got to be visible in the game.
And of course, those parts of the picture aren’t part of the original graphics. By bringing new parts into the background, as you see in this graphic, you can increase what is displayed without adding or redrawing a single pixel. It’s like a 3D puzzle.
NH: Next, when it comes to putting multiple layers into objects such as the enemy bases, there are some parts that we can’t really leave sitting in the background. For example, in Round 2, the bases have hands that stick out. So in that situation, we had to go in and actually make changes to the original graphic and remove the hands from the body, which is situated in the background.
Incidentally, it turns out that our programmer, Akira Saito*, had been secretly trying various things involving 3D-ifying in-game objects, and our main game designer, Koga, took an interest in what he was doing. And he plied Saito with gifts and forced him to put the stuff he was working on into the game. I’d like to encourage such arrangements going forward.
– (laughs) … Gifts, eh? Well in any case, it feels really fresh and new, so there are even more stereoscopic 3D things to look forward to.
YO: In terms of 3D, Fantasy Zone seems pretty run-of-the-mill at first, but there was a significant amount of work that went on behind the scenes. Consequently, you really can appreciate the colorful, vivid atmosphere of the game through its 3D. It will remind you of the way the original game blew you away when you first saw it. But it doesn’t feel like a dated game, at all. It really feels like a normal modern game you’d see on 3DS.
Oh, and I just want to throw this out there, but we tried a lot of different things to get widescreen support in there. Unfortunately, we were not able to get it in this time. It was sort of a situation where it was possible, but not really possible at the same time.
NH: Though, with enough time, nothing is impossible!
YO: Well if it was just adding in widescreen, we could have done that without any problem. But then there would be enemies that’d have to be drawn that wouldn’t be if the screen was 4:3, and this has an impact on game balance. You start having to make decisions on what to display and what not to display, and you end up with differences from the original game’s balancing. We gave up on it because we decided that our time would be better spent on other things rather than programming widescreen and adjusting for game balance. So instead, there’s a full screen mode that just stretches the 4:3 screen out, and it’s not bad at all, actually. And it doesn’t mess with the game balance. Be sure to give it a shot.
So instead of working on widescreen, we put our efforts into adding markers that indicate the locations of off-screen enemy bases. With these, you will now know the altitude of the bases, and as you get close, the arrows get bigger as well. It should help avoid situations where you accidentally run into a base while moving around, or where you totally overlook an undestroyed base.
Also, we’ve added the Classic Screen Mode like we had in the Giga Drive titles—the one that makes it look like you are playing on a CRT screen. I highly recommend trying it. If you happen to own a black 3DS, try setting it on a table and watching a replay using this mode. It really feels like you are playing on a table-style arcade cabinet.
– That’d be quite a throwback for those who played on those back in the day.
YO: For anyone who happened to visit the No Continue Kid and Game Center CX collaboration cafés in Shibuya, you’ll get a taste of that at right in the comfort of your home. (laughs)
– And the lower touchscreen is being used this time as well, right?
YO: Well, it’s not like we’ve been ignoring the lower screen in previous games. There have been a lot of things we’ve wanted to do with it. It’s just…
NH: We haven’t had the processing power. We are talking about drawing three screens worth of stuff (the upper screen has to process 3D, which is two screens worth of processing). Internally, I’ve always told the staff that any attempts to draw to the lower screen while drawing to the upper screen will be treated with extreme prejudice. But hey! Now you can see details about how many more bases you need to beat. You can see the boss character, too! How about that?
Similar to what I was talking about earlier, our designer, Koga, was sneaking peeks at the game design for 3D After Burner II, and started saying, “Oh man, this is bad. We haven’t got any upgrades for Fantasy Zone. Okay, let’s do something fancy with the lower screen.” I have to say, the programmer really was not in good shape at that point.
YO: You can kind of use it as a tactical guide. If you’re not familiar with the game, you can look at the upcoming boss and get an idea of what weapons you should purchase.
– Though if you get really into the game, you’re not really going to have time to look at the bottom screen, especially if you’re not familiar with it. (laughs)
YO: That is true. (laughs) But the fact that the lower screen has more going on makes it feel more like your typical 3DS game, you know? (laughs)
NH: We heard some people saying that just having the menu on there was rather lacking.
A slight digression, but drawing to the lower screen causes your processing speed to take quite a hit. We put a lot of effort into the staff credits this time, and we were getting a lot of frame dropping on the upper screen so we had to draw the lower screen at around 15 frames per second. And despite that we still frame drop on the upper screen.
– (laughs) Sounds like trying to replicate System-16 on the 3DS uses as much processing power as the Giga Drive.
NH: Yes, it does. In some aspects it’s even harder than Mega Drive. From the developer perspective, there are some really crazy things that have to happen. Though none of that ultimately concerns the end user.
– Alright, so I’d like to ask you all about some topics other than the porting itself, such as the game system. It sounds like you’ve added a lot of things into the game’s design itself.
YO: The ability to bank coins is probably the most ground-breaking addition, considering all the numerous ports that Fantasy Zone has seen. As you play the game, the coins that you collect with Opa-Opa are basically placed into a savings account. The amount you use in-game isn’t counted; it simply counts the coins you collect.
This ‘Coin Stock’comes in handy when you use the now standard Round Select feature. This helps address the issue where if you start a later round with no coins, it’s pretty impossible to clear because you can’t buy anything from the shop. So now you can withdraw from your Coin Stock.
– It’s a lot easier to pick up where you left off from the Round Select.
YO: Right. You’ll start the game with the money you withdrew and it makes it a lot easier to get going on any round. However, you need to decide by yourself how much to take out, and any left over money will just disappear if you game over. So you’ll need to be careful not to use too much and think about how much money is appropriate to take out.
But if you are too stingy with your cash, you might feel like you should have taken out more while you are playing. By adding a ‘bank’ into what is ultimately a game based on capitalism, in some ways it’s even more Fantasy Zone-esque than previously.
NH: If we go on to make III, let’s have the player pay back that loan. You know, Fantasy Loan… *buh dum tss*
– Something like Hero Bank*, right?
NH: Yes, I suppose so.
YO: You know, there’s actually a hero outfit in Hero Bank called “Segalion” that has Opa-Opa as its helmet. (laughs)
But Wait, there’s more!
Join us tomorrow for part 2 of our SEGA 3D Classics interview about Fantasy Zone in which we discuss the new UPA-UPA mode! We hope you enjoyed our first part and all of our SEGA 3D Classics interviews. As always, we love to hear what you think of these articles, feel free to post in the comments below.
Wednesday Feb 04, 2015
February’s first batch of downloadable content for Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd is now available with even more on the way for February 17th! Content available today includes the Rhythm Game Song Rolling Girl by wowaka, two free skins, and the Rolling Girl, Chinese Debut, and Mikudayo Costume Modules.
The second batch of downloadable content for the month will be released on February 17 and will include the two Rhythm Game songs, Change Me by shu-t and Yellow by kz(livetune), 2 free skins, and the Sweet Pudding by nezuki and Yellow by redjuice for Hatsune Miku and Lin Xiao-Mei for Meiko Costume Modules.
February 4th Update – New Rhythm Game Song
February 4th Update – New Skins
All skins are available for free for 39 days after release, don’t forget to pick them up!
February 4th Update – New Modules
February 17th Update – New Rhythm Game Songs
February 17th Update – New Skins
All skins are available for free for 39 days after release, don’t forget to pick them up!
February 17th Update – Costume Modules
Costume & Song Club
For fans who want to own every piece of content, SEGA has two great sales initiatives; the Costume Club and Song Club, both of which offer more than 25% savings and are available for purchase now on PlayStation Network. All Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd downloadable content is cross-buy enabled, meaning that content purchased on either platform functions on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, and can be purchased individually on PlayStation Network.
Have a favorite update? Looking forward to anything in particular? Let us know in the comments!
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