While Nintendo started the trend of recreating classic games in 3D with 3D Classics Excitebike, SEGA has coopted this idea and ran with it. With the help of developer M2 they’ve released classic titles such as Out Run, Streets of Rage and Space Harrier on the Nintendo eShop. Now, it’s time to compile some of these 3D Classics onto a cartridge and that’s where SEGA 3D Classics Collection comes in.
SEGA has included 9 different games in this collection, with 4 of them being exclusive to it. The exclusives include the kart racer Power Drift, puzzle game Puyo Puyo Tsu, Maze Walker and the SEGA Master System version of Fantasy Zone 2. The two highlights are definitely Power Drift and Puyo Puyo Tsu, as they’ve never been released in North America before. They aren’t just historical oddities, though, they’re also really good games that are perfect for playing during a commute.
Power Drift, which released in arcades in 1988, is a 3D racing game in the vein of SEGA’s Out Run. The key difference is that instead of driving down the highway, you’re racing against other competitors in tight circuits. While it’s a very simple kart racer, there is some depth as players will have to shift between low and high gear. It certainly won’t replace Mario Kart 7 as the best racing game on the 3DS, but it’s a fun retro alternative for sure.
Puyo Puyo Tsu is the follow-up to the original Puyo Puyo, and it’s great to be able to finally play this classic puzzle game. Just like in Dr. Mario, dual-colored puzzle pieces drop from the top of the screen and it’s up to players to make four of the same colored pieces connect. This 3D remake even allows you to change the difficulty and engage in local multiplayer. It’s an absolute blast, and while it might not make up for the fact that Puyo Puyo Tetris won’t see a North American release, it sure does make coping easier.
Other highlights in the collection come in the form of two distinctly different shooters. Galaxy Force II is an on-rails shooter similar to Star Fox and it’s aged surprisingly well. The stereoscopic 3D effect looks awesome as you shoot your way through different space planets. One really cool addition here is the ability to play the game as if you were in the arcade cabinet. It isn’t the most practical way to play (as you’ll likely switch back after the novelty wears off), but it’s definitely worth checking out.
The other standout is the highly colorful shoot ’em up Fantasy Zone II, and there’s two separate versions of the game included. One is the SEGA Master System original, which is the weaker of the pair, and the other is an arcade remake of the game called Fantasy Zone II W that was done by M2 in 2008. Don’t expect it to look like a 2008 release though, as it was retrofitted to run on SEGA’s System 16 arcade board which was released in 1985. The graphics, which already had a strong art style where you battle adorable looking enemies, really shine here in the remake.
Sadly, that’s about where the classics portion of the game ends. The rest of the titles just aren’t up to snuff, and haven’t aged well at all. These include the helicopter shooter Thunder Blade, which ends up being a mess to control, the Mega Drive version of Altered Beast (which has never been a fun game), and the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
While I grew up playing Sonic the Hedgehog, my adult life has been basically going back to these platformers and wondering why I ever liked them to begin with. The level design in particular is a mess, and the genre has evolved so much since it was originally released, which makes it even more frustrating to play. It’s worth noting though that M2 has retrofitted in the spin dash, which was introduced in Sonic 2, into the original, but it can be turned off if you want the authentic experience.
Another disappointment is that the compilation is pretty bare bones. There’s no artwork to view from the games or historical information telling players why they should care about these retro titles. It’s a shame, too, since SEGA has done a better job with extras in previous compilations and the bar has been raised by games like Rare Replay and the Mega Man Legacy Collection. It lacks the extra oomph that make good retro compilations into great ones.
SEGA 3D Classics Collection isn’t filled with many classics, and that’s largely due to it actually being the second compilation. The first one, which was only released in Japan, features many of the great games you would expect. While it’s certainly a bummer that the superior set of titles didn’t get released stateside, there’s still a lot to like here. Power Drift and Puyo Puyo Tsu are excellent games that are finally playable stateside, and for fans of gaming’s past, those two might be worth the price of admission alone.
This review is based on the 3DS exclusive, which we were provided with.
Despite the name, there really aren't many classics included in this compilation. The historical value is rich, though, and the 3D remakes by M2 are top notch. It's just too bad that better games weren't included.