Tuesday Apr 14, 2015
We continue our look at 3D Fantasy Zone with the addition of an all new mode of play and an all new track from Manabu Namiki. If you missed yesterday’s update, be sure to catch up on part 1!
Very exciting stuff, we can’t wait to hear what you think. Enjoy!
Link Loop Land: Fantasy Zone boiled down to a dense, time-driven soup. Yummy.
Yosuke Okunari (below YO): The reason we call this one “W,” or double, is because it’s actually got a whole other game in it called Link Loop Land, which I’d like to talk about.
This new game is M2’s answer to my request to go wild and do what they wanted to, rather than just do a port.
Naoki Horii (below NH): The idea was not to go back and add something to The Tears of Opa-Opa, which we were happy and done with, but instead to make something totally fresh.
YO: When we had decided to go and release Fantasy Zone in batch 2 with the first and second titles separate, since the games were very similar, we wanted to make sure there was something differentiating them.
For Opa-Opa Bros., which we worked on first, we added on the Mark III version’s bosses, and added the different play style that was Upa-Upa Mode. Those were our Grantanoffs for that game. But if we approached Fantasy Zone II with the basic same concepts, it would be really hard to make them that different, and we didn’t want to be predictable. So for Fantasy Zone II, we decided to go with a completely different Grantanoff concept.
Put another way, we figured that fans would be happy with Opa-Opa Bros. since we added bosses and Upa-Upa Mode. But for the remake of Fantasy Zone II, at the end of the day it’s just one game, and in comparison to the first game, we knew people wouldn’t think it was enough.
NH: Okunari-san talks this way all the time! Really. (all laugh) “The schedule is the most important thing for me, but the users have needs!”
YO: So I said, “What do you think we should do?” And the result of these discussions was one idea: Let’s make a score attack game. And now there is an Endless Mode called Link Loop Land.
In the previous game, Upa-Upa took the main stage in an unprecedented way, so if we were going to put out Fantasy Zone II, I knew everyone would want to see him brought back. And so for this Endless Mode, he’s back as the main protagonist.
Fantasy Zone II: Link Loop Land Prologue
Ten years after the battle with Menon forces, a new planet is discovered in the Fantasy Zone.
– He’s in debt again!? (laughs)
YO: There’s lots of people who are wondering what happened in between I and II, after Opa-Opa meets his father and learns where he has been, and what happened after Upa-Upa Mode’s ending.
NH: Yes, lots… (laughs)
YO: This is a bit of a spoiler for the Upa-Upa Mode ending, but Upa-Upa ends up in massive debt, (all laugh), so we figured he’ll need to work to pay it back. And so Endless Mode continues on with this storyline… (laughs)
NH: I think SEGA is a really forgiving company!
– Financial ruin, huh? So he didn’t just lose all the money he had.
YO: Well, it wasn’t his money in the first place. (laughs)
– Oh, right. He spent someone else’s money, and now has to pay it all back. That’s pretty good.
YO: And so now we have a reason for him to set out on a new journey. (laughs)
– This is really similar to Hero Bank (laughs).
YO: Well, Hero Bank was done by the same dev group (laughs). Anyway, this story is the basis by which he takes the stage again.
NH: Even though we wanted to make another game, schedule-wise we didn’t have enough time to make anything big. Since we went through the effort of fleshing him out as a character in the first game, we felt we should make a game for him.
The guy in charge of making this game is a programmer by the name of Yamanaka, who also worked on the System-16 remake itself, as well as Contra: ReBirth and Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth. Yamanaka loves games like Geometry Wars, which get harder and harder and require the player to cope with it. He apparently wanted to do that with Fantasy Zone.
At first, there are only bases floating in the air and there aren’t that many enemies. But as you keep playing, the bases keep appearing and one base could be made of four bases. They tried a lot of stuff.
– I’ve played it myself, and now that you mention Geometry Wars, I feel like I get it better now.
NH: And so the result is just non-stop. They narrowed in on the specs, saying “Sorry Warps, but you gotta go!” And these kinds of games where you die instantly can be really stressful, so there has to be some kind of relief sometimes, so there are Repairers and enemies that function like bombs. It’s built so you can keep up with a skyrocketing level of difficulty.
YO: Fantasy Zone is a rather straightforward shooting game, but that’s because it was built in the 1980s. But we are conscious of the fact that shooting games post-2000 have lots of enemies and bullets flying around, and we wanted to see what that would be like.
– But, the fact that Fantasy Zone II had warps was one of the reasons for its replayablilty, but from the point of view of a portable game, a score attack mode that lets you pick up and play quick in short bursts is a very good fit as well.
YO: You’re exactly right. The Tears of Opa-Opa is a game that requires a lot of thought when you first start playing it, so we wanted to do something that was more fitting for a portable game. Something like the Caravan Modes common in Hudson’s shooting games. But we settled on a design where it was endless rather than having them end after a time limit.
NH: Something that would get your blood pumping in small gameplay spurts, something you could do on the train. Though it could be something that you would sit at home and try to break your own score, and that would be fine, too.
– It adds something new to the Fantasy Zone series gameplay. If you just fly around haphazardly, you’ll end up running into the enemy bases, just like the original, but it’s a very different feeling. Since you can freely make the game how you want, you can do this sort of mode as well.
NH: You could say that this is a very thick, dense version of Fantasy Zone, but that density makes it very different from Fantasy Zone.
– Even so, it doesn’t feel unnatural at all. It’s very easy to play.
NH: That might be because you played I and II, and then tried this one.
YO: And since the gameplay was so different, we decided to make it its own game. Koga-san* came up with the name—Link Loop Land.
* Keisuke Koga, game designer at M2, worked on the System-16 remake and Opa-Opa Bros.
NH: I was a little concerned that the title didn’t have “Combo” or “Chain” in it anywhere, but Koga really likes NiGHTS, so…
– Oh! OK, I get it! It’s got Link and then Loop. Right! (laughs)
NH: That totally few over my head, I’m sorry to admit. (laughs) I even said, “Is this… NiGHTS?” in the middle of a meeting.
YO: There was apparently a standing order that the words “combo” and “chain” we not allowed.
– So that’s how the Link Gauge got its name.
NH: Koga said, “When we are done with this project, let’s do a 3D version of NiGHTS.” To which I said, “Not possible!”
– It’s a Saturn game. (laughs) Right right. “Link Gauge”… I like it. Having it as a gauge makes it easier to see how everything is connected, rather than showing everything with just numbers.
YO: Just like NiGHTS, you need to defeat the next enemy before your link is broken.
NH: It makes me wonder how many people who will play this mode will actually draw the comparison with NiGHTS. We didn’t even notice it ourselves. Though if you read this interview first, that’s sort of cheating.
YO: Going back to when we were talking about The Tears of Opa-Opa and how lowering the difficulty will cause the coins to get sucked into you, that’s the standard way Link Loop Land works, so it’s easier to keep your link going.
NH: Please give the Score Attack a shot.
YO: When you finish a round of Link Loop Land, it throws your score up on screen, nice and big, so we hope there’s going to be some healthy competition on Miiverse. All you have to do is compare screenshots, though it’s a bit old school that way. (laugh)
And Of Course, a New Song from Manabu Namiki!
YO: Since Link Loop Land is a brand new game, it got its own theme song written for it as well. A new song by Manabu Namiki.
For the System-16 remake of The Tears of Opa-Opa, they followed the System-16 specs and used the same sound bank and sound drivers from the arcade version of Fantasy Zone, and of course Link Loop Land follows the same rules. But in addition to that, similar to Space Harrier’s main theme, it’s a rather long song that changes during boss battles and when you defeat the boss, it goes back to being the normal theme.
NH: We had bigger plans back when we were planning it out, but in the end this is what we came up with. Namiki provided us with a comment that also goes back to the 2008 remake.
Manabu Namiki’s Comment
When Fantasy Zone released into arcades back in 1986, it was one-of-a-kind with its vivid colors, gameplay, graphics, and music. The impact that game had on me is still unmatched now in the 21st century. I was in middle school at the time, and we were so absorbed in competing with each other. The eagerly-awaited sequel was released the following year in 1987 on home consoles, and then 21 years later in 2008, a remake project appeared, a System-16 version of Fantasy Zone II, and I got the chance to work on the sound, including the music.
And now, 6 more years later, it is back as 3D Fantasy Zone II W, and again, I’m overseeing and working on the sound. I’d never imagined I’d be able to dig in this much on the sound work of a game I loved so much, you know?
Alright, let’s talk about the sound for this game. First, The Tears of Opa-Opa is just as it was when we released the System-16 version 6 years ago. It remains an homage to the concept of what it would have been like had it been released in ’87 as a System-16 game, nothing added, nothing taken away. That said, usage of FM Sound and its reproduction has made great advancements, and the sound quality was adjusted to take maximum advantage of that, so relax and take time to give everything a listen.
When I was actually working on the sound for the remake in 2008, my approach was, “What if I fell into a time warp and was sent back to 1987, and got assigned to create the sound for the System-16 version of II?” I had to come up with this crazy concept to match the crazy remake project we were working on. I imagined that I’d found myself in a SEGA development room in 1987 and told to work on the sound for II, and Hiro-shishou had come by and given me a PC and the sound source program. And once I completed the work, I’d be able to return to the 21st century. Or at least that’s what I told myself while I was working on it.
And then the new Endless Mode, called Link Loop Land, for which I’ve written a brand new song. So awesome! And of course it’s built to use all of the System-16 version’s sound gear.
Sound Source: FM Sound Source YM2151 @ 4Mhz
Everything is in line with these above specs, so it should be playable on the actual System-16 arcade board itself. And since this is all 6 years after my first hack at it, I’d gone and totally forgotten all the ins and outs of how I put things together. I was worried if I’d even be able to pull it off, so I went looking for my backup drives and recovered some folders off them, reviewing files one by one. And slowly it all came back and I was able to do it. Would I be able to do it again 6 years from now? Honestly, I don’t know…
Lastly, the new song itself. Just like when I worked on the System-16 version the first time around, I didn’t want to do something that was a cheap knockoff of the original music. Honestly, I really didn’t want to make something that makes people think, “Yeah, I guess that’s sort of like FZ. I guess it’s okay.” So I retained that same concept, and stayed very conscious of the fact that I wanted to make something that really melds solidly with the game itself.
The above specs and concepts were absolute to me. I didn’t want to get caught up in forms or expected patterns, so I focused on the feeling of excitement when you hear it, and how it should make you want to keep moving forward and play over and over again. I let myself be guided by my formative experiences playing Fantasy Zone in the arcades, and how lucky I was to be able to play a part in creating the next entry in the series. I had to fulfill that duty. This is “♪ENDLESS LOVE,” from me to Endless Mode, Fantasy Zone, SEGA, shooting games, game music, development staff, and all the players out there. I hope you all enjoy it!
The next one is the real finale! (or is it?)
YO: And there you have it. A Fantasy Zone for 3DS with a different concept than 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros., double the fun with two new games. They are both chock-full of fun. The remake version of Fantasy Zone II doesn’t end with simply a port.
NH: Two stories, The Tears of Opa-Opa and Link Loop Land. Two protaganists, Opa-Opa and Upa-Upa, and a story with two branches, Bright and Dark. It’s double no matter how you slice it.
– And with those two games, you have both a Fantasy Zone-like experience as well as something off on its own vector, so while the core game is the same, I feel as if a wide range of shooting game fans can enjoy it. And I mean that for playability as well. There aren’t that many domestically targeted portable shooting games in the vein of Geometry Wars, where enemies just keep coming at you.
NH: We can make adjustments to the programming for difficulty, like when and where enemies appear and how many, so it was pretty easy to make in a short amount of time. It’s hard to do things in a short amount of time if you have to make each stage one by one. If someone told us to make 100 stages, well, that’d be impossible. So in that sense, it was the only way to go about it.
– I see. Was it about half a year for development?
NH: From the very beginning of the project, yes, it was about six months. But if you’re talking about the time from when we had a lot of people jump onto it, it was around when Opa-Opa Bros. was finishing up, I guess? It was a really dense schedule. Like, you’d wonder when we were getting sleep.
YO: We brought back the staff from the original System-16 remake, and had them carry over from the work on Opa-Opa Bros. onto this game.
NH: Though, we did get a head start on the work for Link Loop Land.
– And so you have two “Grantanoffs” this time around, it seems.
NH: Well, the System-16 remake of The Tears of Opa-Opa was sort of a Grantanoff itself in the first place.
YO: And Link Loop Land is an all-new game, so you could say it surpasses Grantanoff status.
– I see.
YO: Actually, at the present time, Fantasy Zone has received the highest praise out of all the Batch 2 games. So this is an appropriate encore for that game.
NH: If we see a ton of copies sell, I’m sure we can make a III.
YO: That’s a dream I’d like to see become a reality…
– Yes, a ton of copies would be very good! (laughs) Alright, let’s wrap up then. So I think everyone is wondering what’s going to happen after this. You touched on this at beginning, but after the big climax after the first 3 titles in Batch 2, with an encore of Fantasy Zone II, are you guys finished with these 4 games?
YO: Yes, it’s been a long time since we started, but the 3D Remaster Project comes to a close with this title…is what I should say, but actually there is one more title that we’ve been holding back. This one is really the last one. Even at a concert after the encore is finished, if the audience is really hyped up then sometimes you can get the performers to squeak out one last song. And this is that song. It’s the true finale.
YO: We’ve actually brought it with us. It’s still in development, but would you like to give it a shot?
– Are you sure? Sure, I’d love to give it a shot— Wh-what… No way!?!?!
TO BE CONTINUED!
We hope you enjoyed the article and are as excited as we are to see Fantasy Zone II release this Thursday. I’m super addicted to Link Loop Land, I’m looking forward to seeing the Miiverse posts of everyone’s best runs.
Of course, there’s other very exciting news in the world of the 3D Classics, the announcement of three Genesis games that will be arriving this summer. Very exciting stuff, we’re loving the feedback that’s been coming through across the internet with the news.
As always, we love reading your feedback about this interview or anything about the 3D Classics, let us know what you think!
Posted by Julian in SEGA 3D Classics on 1:02:29PM Apr 14, 2015
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