Review: Sega 3D Classics Collection

Sega is one of those companies which you can’t help but love. Sure, their latest output in the realm of Sonic the Hedgehog titles might leave something to be desired, but there’s no doubt that they have provided gamers with tons of excellent titles over the years. With so many games, how do you select even a few to be representative of the Sega brand? Well, every so often Sega gets a compilation of titles together and releases it. The latest in these initiatives of classic game re-releases is Sega 3D Classics Collection on Nintendo 3DS. What’s most exciting about this set is that it is not simply just a quick smattering of emulated games on portable hardware. As with the Sega 3D Classics already on the Nintendo eShop, each title has been upgraded in order to offer 3D capabilities. Save states, selectable game versions and the like are also included in the package.

Some of the coolest aspects about a collection like this are that they give Sega fans ample control of their games. For one, each and every title includes customizable controls. If you don’t like the defaults, the emulator is set to then simply swap things up. There’s also a handful of screen modes to either retain the original screen ratio, blow the image up quite a bit to get a full screen look and even options on 3D. This means you can change whether the 3D appears to be popping out at your falling into the background. Finally, the game version selection is awesome in that it lets players opt for Japanese versions of games or their international releases. Obsessive fans will likely know what the differences between these ROMs are, but I just think it’s cool as is. Of course, save states are implemented which means players can save at any point during a game. The biggest disappointment, however, is that there’s no option to create multiple saves for one game.

With all this said, the quality of extraneous features is meaningless if the included games are total junk. Here’s a look at nine games included in the Sega 3D Classics Collection with mini-reviews as to their fun factor in the modern era as well as 3D implementation.


Altered Beast

Aside from Sonic the Hedgehog, it’s likely that Altered Beast is the most well known of the releases in the Sega 3D Classics Collection. As such, there’s probably not much need to describe what goes on in this game. You’re a buff dude who grows increasingly buff and can also turn into animals for some reason – and this kicks total butt. Unfortunately, played today, it’s really apparent just how simplistic this beat ‘em up truly is. My suggestion is to keep your nostalgia safe and secure by not tearing right into Altered Beast in the modern era.

That is, unless you’re really antsy to check out how the game looks in 3D. Actually, it works quite well with a simple layering effect that pulls character sprites to the foreground. Text, such as that for a game over or end of stage, appears in front of both. The layering is nicely done and it almost feels as though Altered Beast has always looked this way. Of course, that’s not the case, but the fact that it feels so natural makes it easy to play the entire game at maximum 3D.


Fantasy Zone II

There’s no doubt that Fantasy Zone II (and the majority of the series in general) is set to provide gamers with a fabulous time shooting everything in sight. The gameplay may seem slightly dated – or refreshing – depending on how many classic shooters you’ve played. Each stage is effectively a cylindrical scrolling stage which means you just continue to go around the same screen if heading right. However, there are warp points to take players between stages to clear each of its goofball enemies. After taking all the baddies down, it’s time to battle against a huge boss.

The question I have is why anyone would opt to play Fantasy Zone II for the Sega Mega Drive when they can opt for the System 16 arcade version of Fantasy Zone II W. After all, it’s included in this set right alongside the original release! The only explanation in my mind is that it simply serves as an interesting historical piece. Gamers may find it interesting to compare the two versions to see exactly how much better that arcade version is over the consolized one. Beyond that, though, Fantasy Zone II just doesn’t feel as snappy or feature nearly as gorgeous graphics. Hey, at least Sega Master System fans are receiving an amount of recognition with this set.


Fantasy Zone II W

This is the real VIP of the entire compilation right here. 2D shooters were incredibly common back in the 80s and 90s, but none of them really stood out in the way that the Fantasy Zone series did. Fantasy Zone II W is the name given to Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa’s inaugural 3DS release, but it still contains everything awesome from the source material. As a cute little ship with feet named Opa-Opa, players traverse multiple cartoony levels filled with cutesy enemies. With fantastic graphics and outrageous boss battles, it’s hard to tear yourself away from playing.

As far as 3D is concerned, it’s a bit surprising how awesome an effect it provides to playing Fantasy Zone II W. Honestly, the game has superb visuals by default, but the 3D just turns the adorable world into a trippier, but still cute, scene. The graphics do not dampen the gameplay and this is key. Instead, they provide a neat new means of experiencing this lovely shoot ‘em up. Unlike some other titles in the Sega 3D Classics Collection, the visuals are also not as likely to give you a headache.


Galaxy Force II

Back in the day, Galaxy Force II tried with a great deal of intensity to turn sidescrolling shooters into third person affairs. It did so to mixed results. Players control their ship as they fly forward through space, which is filled with debris and plenty of enemies. Your goal is not only to rack up points but also to reach the end of a stage before time (and your fuel) expires. It’s a tough race against the clock.

At first it seems like 3D should be a perfect fit for this game. However, the actual implementation reveals that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Galaxy Force II is a fast game by design and that speed is a killer when it comes to being able to keep pace with the 3D visuals on screen. As with a few other titles in this collection, I ended up needing to turn it off to actually enjoy the game. It’s a shame because the 3D sounded quite neat, but in reality the busy screen and fast motions were its downfall.


Maze Walker

Maze Walker is an incredibly odd choice for the Sega 3D Classics Collection from the perspective that it’s fairly unknown. Heck, there’s not even an English Wikipedia page for this game. For another reason, which I’ll get to shortly, it actually makes perfect sense for inclusion here. The basics of Maze Walker are that you’re a little dude stuck meandering through dungeons/mazes. This all takes place from a top down perspective which gives you a pretty good idea of where to head next. There’s tons of enemies who will attempt to squash you, but luckily each area is rife with power-ups to help make your journey a success.

The biggest reason why Maze Walker is a sensible addition to this collection is a bit more apparent when we use its international name of Maze Hunter 3-D. Yes, when it originally launched on the Sega Master System, it played exclusively in 3D. How was this accomplished? Players needed to own both a Master System as well as the SegaScope 3D glasses. Chances are, most of us don’t have both these things in our homes right now. I certainly don’t and therefore cannot vouch for the replication of its 3D effects, but as is in this collection, the game certainly looks decent in three dimensions.


Power Drift

As you might guess from a name like Power Drift, this is a racing game. Players take the wheel from a third person perspective and must race across a variety of cool tracks in order to attain first place. It’s actually pretty tough to accomplish this on higher difficulties, so definitely start off on easy if you’ve not played before. There’s no car selection, and cars themselves feel quite squirrely right out of the gate. It’s not an amazing racer, but at least the visuals are appealing.

My suggestion is to absolutely avoid using 3D (at the very least, the highest setting) when playing through Power Drift. For me, it looked cool but was hard to focus on. The challenge came with the fact that the background is constantly changing as the tracks go into hard right and left turns. Losing focus is basically a ticket to failure as well, since it means you’re more likely to screw up on said turns. With already challenging AI, it proves a real hindrance to try and tough it out with 3D enabled.  


Puyo Puyo 2

Puyo Puyo 2 is, well, more of Puyo Puyo. Even if you’ve never played this series specifically, it’s very likely that you’ve tried something akin to it over the years. In this game, adorable colored blobs reign down from the ceiling similar to Tetris blocks. Once they fall, similarly-colored blobs (Puyos) combine together. Once a string of enough are combined they’ll just pop outright, clearing some space on the board. This simple puzzler concept remains charming to this day.

It seems that titles with a simple 2D background and sprites on the foreground make for the best 3D experiences on 3DS. Puyo Puyo 2 is incredibly simplistic in this regard, since all it ever really depicts are two player boards and falling Puyos. However, it’s because of this that the 3D effect isn’t particularly interesting either. Sure, there’s a slight bit more depth, but that’s hardly necessary for a game of this sort. Also, I’m particularly curious if jumping into a two player match with both 3DSes running full 3D would introduce any sort of lag between them.


Sonic the Hedgehog

If you have somehow never managed to play Sonic the Hedgehog before then now is your chance! Of course, you don’t need the Sega 3D Classics Collection in order to do so. This is a game which has graced innumerable platforms over the years. It’s only now that the title is getting a slight tweak via optional 3D visuals. Outside of that, everything else is as you remember it. Sonic is still fast, the soundtrack is still excellent, and levels are lovely and show off what the Genesis was capable of.

There’s something striking about Sonic the Hedgehog’s colorful world given this form of 3D treatment. It looks downright gorgeous (not as if the original game still doesn’t hold up today – it does!). With that said, the fact that you’re often blazing across the screen means that it can be quite a challenge for eyes to focus in on the actual scene. As with Power Drift, this can lead to a lot of problems as opposed to simply playing the game as it was originally intended.


Thunder Blade

Maybe it’s just me, but I never really found Thunder Blade all that appealing. Sure, it had some pretty wicked ‘3D’ style graphics, but the actual gameplay itself seemed hindered by the blocky buildings and focus on the helicopter’s perspective. Players must fly through cityscapes while decimating enemy tanks and the like with precise strikes. This is how I used to feel about Thunder Blade. My opinions have since evolved after playing the 3D-ized iteration.

It feels as if this were the way Thunder Blade were always designed to be played. With the buildings now being realized in 3D, the way they increase in size as you fly near them makes sense. Flying between them isn’t as challenging as it once was, nor is destroying all the enemies in your path. While the gameplay is still fairly simple as far as shooters are concerned, it brings enough to the table to be a surprisingly exciting time.

Closing Comments:

All in all, the Sega 3D Classics Collection offers a great mix of titles to suit the tastes of many. Of course, it’s up to you to decide whether or not these games constitute a home run or not. In the case that only one or two are worth it to you, consider hitting them up via the Nintendo eShop instead. Sega diehards, however, really should pick up the retail release as it comes with a decal sheet of Sega-related logos to help show the world how much you still adore Sega. While I felt some inclusions were lacking, the overall package is a solid pickup for fans of classic titles.