Sunday, 8 November 2020

Near Fantasy Space (PC)

 Now, I'm sure you'll all take one look at these screenshots and you'll instantly know one thing: this is a Fantasy Zone fangame. And while that's an accurate assesment, it's also an incomplete one! Because Near Fantasy Space might take most of its aesthetic and mechanical inspiration from SEGA's pschedelic shooting game series, it uses them as a skeleton to pay homage to a whole bunch of other shooting games too! How efficient!


Now, I'm going to have to be honest with you all here: on this blog, I've always insisted on only using my own screenshots to illustrate my reviews. Unfortunately, Near Fantasy Space is one of those cases where that stubborn adherence to principles has somewhat limited my capacity to show all the cool stuff a game has to offer. So while I can show you the first three stages, which pay homage to Ikaruga, Battle Garegga, and R-Type respectively, you'll have to go elsewhere to see the later stages homaging the likes of Darius, Gradius, Fantasy Zone itself, and more. Sorry.


Other than the stages themselves, more little treats are on offer in the super-cute weapon shop screen, which is made to look like a modern shopping website, compllete with star ratings on each item and some recommendations right at the bottom. Furthermore, the rapid fire item looks just like the Rapid Fire Unit peripheral that was released for the Master System!


The most frustrating thing about the game's difficulty is how uneven it is. The stages themselves are actually pretty easy, and if you're not totally useless at shooting games, they shouldn't really offer you any trouble. The bossfights, by contrast, are harrowing ordeals. The bosses take an incredible amount of punishment before going down, and they definitely aren't shy about dishing it out, either. I almost wrote this game off, as I was having such a hard time getting past the second stage's boss, and I didn't want to post a review that only had sreenshots of two stages, but after about an hour of repeated failure, I eventually got past it. I will say this though: seeing how each new stage pays homeage to its inspiration is a pretty nice reward for getting through each bossfight.


Near Fantasy Space is a game that was clearly made with a lot of love, and like the X68000 game Scorpius that I reviewed a few years ago, is living proof of the fact that old-style shooting games are significantly more difficult than modern danmaku-style games. You can get it pretty cheaply online if you don't want to seek out a physical copy, and if you have the fortitude for a game with such a small amount of mercy, then I recommend you do so.

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