Back when the bulk of the Gamereactor crew grew up you were either a Nintendo fan or you were a Sega fan. Many of us fall into the latter category. That is to say we're fans of the Sega we knew up until the Dreamcast was abandoned. Where Nintendo held a very consistent, high level of quality, Sega offered more unique gaming experiences that were, for lack of a better word, cooler.
This package contains eight games from the late '80s and early '90s that have gradually been released for the Nintendo 3DS under the brand 3D Classics, all made with the utmost care and consideration for the originals and with 3D effects added in such a way that it actually adds something. Over time we have bought most of these games from the eShop and they offer a quick fix gaming that's perfect when you have a bit of extra time, but not a lot. Fantasy Zone II is a prime example of game that is as fun whether you want to invest five minutes or an hour into playing, and the music is guaranteed to turn that frown upside down.
Fantasy Zone II is treated especially well in this collection and in addition to the original is the remake M2 did a few years back, making it a total of nine games to choose from. Ut's undeniable that there are retro collections with more titles, including from Sega themselves, but the fact that the games have been revamped to take advantage of the platform and that all the games (except two) still entertain today is quite unique. These are the games that are included in chronological order:
Fantasy Zone II (1987) & Fantasy Zone II W (2014)
Thunder Blade (1987)
Altered Beast (1988)
Galaxy Force II (1988)
Maze Walker (1988)
Power Drift (1988)
Sonic The Hedgehog (1991)
Puyo puyo 2 (1994)
Which games don't hold up then? The most obvious answer is Altered Beast, which was originally bundled with the Mega Drive. Thus it's also a game many Sega fans have sweet memories of, even though it really wasn't particularly good even at the time. This game still isn't great, and we have yet again made numerous attempts at giving it a fair chance. It also seems that Thunder Blade hasn't passed the test of time very well either, and is only entertaining when viewed as a small glimpse into a bygone era.
There's a reason why we wanted to start with the negatives, as there are more 3D remakes of Sega classics than those included herein. Sega 3D Classics Collection is actually Collection number two, where the first one just released in Japan and had far more well-known games on it, such as Out Run, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master and Space Harrier. Since that one obviously never made it out over here, Sega should have either thrown out Altered Beast, or just added more games. Next month there will also be a third instalment of Sega 3D Classics Collection in Japan, with games like After Burner II, Gunstar Heroes and Streets of Rage II, all of which are missing on this cartridge as well. And the Japanese are also getting a compilation of all three compilations.
Frankly, it's the weakest collection of the three that's being released over here and given to us, it should really have been reworked with more and/or better games. But it's hard to complain about a small arcade in your pocket, and the thing with these classics is that most have stood the test of time remarkably well. Take an ingenious puzzle game like Puyo Puyo 2, for example, which in Europe was marketed as Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. We can easily sit for an entire evening (or until the battery light turns red) and just work at hitting high scores.
Sonic the Hedgehog hardly needs further introduction, but it's still really good. Elsewhere, Power Drift is a big surprise. We never had the opportunity to play it in the arcades at the time (well, only butchered versions including the one on the Commodore 64). It's kart racing long before Super Mario Kart captured our hearts, and it shows where Nintendo got some of their ideas from. The pace is insane, the controls are fantastic, and the music makes us want to plug the 3DS into a sound system.
Another positive surprise is Galaxy Force II, a game that we've previously played on numerous platforms, particularly the Mega Drive. But on Nintendo 3DS with the 3D effect turned on, we dare say it almost becomes a completely different game. It becomes more vivid and three-dimensional when compared to most other things seen on the platform. It's a fantastic little title, and once more, the music!
The selection of games is the big negative. It almost feels like Sega wanted to release this to cement their own opinion that Europe doesn't really want things like these collections. The other collections are basically twice as good. But for now we're reviewing this one and what it offers, and it's still easy to recommend given the amount of good content that's still being offered. And in defence of the lineup; there's also something appealing about playing a few lesser known retro games, games that a lot of people might have missed the first time around.
The whole collection is improved nicely by the 3D graphics, they're all well presented, and the genres are varied and as such there'is a title for every occasion. Sega 3D Classics Collection was this reviewer's most played game of the last week, and it's easy to whip out every time you're in need of a quick gaming fix. Having an arcade in your pocket is something we thoroughly enjoy and therefore we'd recommend this to those who want a history lesson, those who were there for the good ol' days, and those who want games that are ideal for a 10 minute tram/bus/train ride. But while we recommend it, we still can't help but think that it could have been so much more...