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Archive for February 10th, 2015


SEGA 3D Classics – 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Brothers – Part 2

SEGA  3D Classics - Fantasy Zone

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!

SEGA 3D Classics - Fantasy Zone
Upa-Upa mode

– 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.”

SEGA 3D Classics - Fantasy Zone
* Opa-Opa was a dot-eating game that used the graphical world styling of Fantasy Zone. It was released in the arcades and for the Sega Mark III. It is also included in the Fantasy Zone Complete Collection for PlayStation 2 (Japan-only).

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.

SEGA 3D Classics - Fantasy Zone
* Galactic Protector was a unique shooting game for the Sega Mark III that used a paddle controller. The player characters were Opa-Opa and Upa-Upa. This game was also part of the Fantasy Zone Complete Collection.

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.
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.

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.

SEGA 3D Classics - Fantasy Zone
This was Koga-san’s initial plan for Upa-Upa’s weapons. Its implementation wasn’t realistic, so it didn’t ultimately end up happening.

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?

SEGA 3D Classics - Fantasy Zone

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)

SEGA 3D Classics - Fantasy Zone
SEGA 3D Classic’s infamous staff credits. This one’s from 3D After Burner II.

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.
SEGA 3D Classics - Fantasy Zone
SEGA 3D Classics - Fantasy Zone
A treasured Fantasy Zone-themed tissue box enshrined at M2. It was apparently a present.

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!