Fantasy Zone and Shinobi review: time does no favours for one - but the other is still a ninja star
As part of the excellent Sega Ages series, Nintendo Switch gamers got their hands on Fantasy Zone and Shinobi - over 33 years since their original release.
As a kid growing up in the '80s, I was looking forward to both immensely and while both were great fun, one has stood the test of time better than the other.
Let's start with Fantasy Zone (FZ). For those that don't know or remember - Fantasy Zone is a side scrolling shooter, straight out of the most retro of retro buckets.
The game plays much like the retro classic Defender, but not quite in that class. FZ has a few play modes and a selection of weapons and engines to choose from but you won’t have them for long. With the limited viewing area on handheld, the action can come quick and fast and you may even find yourself trying not to blink, in case you crash into something.
There’s not much in the way of challenges to complete, and you basically shoot things to earn money so you can buy weapons. The other modes do offer some versatility, but essentially it’s all the same game.
The game plays much like the retro classic Defender, but not quite in that class
FZ is perfect for those who have a quick five or 10 minutes to kill, or if you are a retro shooter fanatic. But time has not been kind to this 1986 port and, in terms of any longevity, it falls below average.
Shinobi was a different kettle of fish entirely, though. Ninjutsu master, Joe Musashi, returns in this side scrolling platform beat-em-up genre-defining all time classic.
The shurikens and throwing knives are back, and the nostalgia will literally be dripping off your Switch. The added bonus this time around is the Switch's rewind feature to help you navigate the tricky bits.
The newly added melee button gives things a fresh twist and clears the way in satisfying style. It also doesn't hurt your special bonus score.
AGES mode gives Joe upgraded weapons and increased durability and Shinobi - for my money (all £4 of it when you purchase on the Nintendo store) - is the best Sega Ages has to offer yet.
Three weeks on, and I'm still firing it up for a blast. Superb.