The Game: As an unnamed but cartoonishly cute little hero, you are powerless to watch as your girlfriend Cheri is abducted by a boatload of pirates. Only then are you inspired to act, chasing after the heavily armed pirate ship in your defenseless balloon. You dodge cannonballs as you try to reach the pirate ship’s landing pad (what is it, an aircraft carrier?!). Then you have to battle those nasty pirates on the deck of their ship while still dodging that pesky cannon, until you do away with them all and get to Cheri. A bird then scoops her up, leaving you to take a treacherous balloon trip, climb a tree teeming with dangerous critters, avoid tigers in the jungle, and take on an entire tribe of natives (who seem to be in cahoots with the pirates, who now have helicopters and artillery!) to rescue Cheri. Then, of course, she goes and gets herself kidnapped again. (Rock-Ola [under license from SNK], 1981)
Memories: Why do I like this game? Hmmmmm…I don’t know. I only ever saw one Fantasy machine, at the game room at Gaston’s fishing resort on the White River in Arkansas. I think one of the game’s best qualities was the “continue” feature, which allowed you to pop another quarter into the machine and pick up where your previous game left off within 30 seconds. With games like Fantasy that have a defined ending, I think the “continue” feature is a must. In my case, having gotten a painful sunburn on a family fishing trip, the “continue” feature was incredibly handy – my mom kept giving me quarters to feed to the machine, because by now, she wanted to see the ending too. (Actually, come to think of it, that’s why this is my all-time favorite arcade game.) And the variety of scrolling, shooting, dodging and climbing stages in the game kept it interesting.
This game is the whole reason I downloaded MAME in the first place. For the longest time, I was under the impression that no home version existed, but Phosphor Dot Fossils reader Bryan Roppolo has since corrected me on this, forwarding a screen shot of the TI 99/4A version of Fantasy – the only home version I’ve ever heard of – but even then, the game was an unreleased prototype. (Thanks, Bryan!)
Phosphor Dot Fossils acquired a rare pristine copy of the original advertising slick for Fantasy, as used by Rock-Ola to entice arcade operators to buy the game. Click on the thumbnail images below to see the full-sized scan.