Rockin’ to the Oldies
While Sega nowadays is third-party publisher putting out games all across the spectrum, there was once a time when the company was one of the first-party powerhouses of the gaming world. While the company’s first foray into this world was in creating arcade games through the early-80s (which they’re still popular for over in Japan), their entrance into console gaming provided the first real competition for a then-dominant Nintendo.
Nintendo and Sega were major competitors from the get-go in Japan, with the battle between the Nintendo Famicom and the Sega Mark III (NES and Master System, respectively, in the west). On this side of the Pacific, the NES reigned dominant against the Master System, although the system did still hold its own and earn dedicated fans. The rivalry wouldn’t really heat up over here until the next generation of consoles, with the Super Famicom vs. the Mega Drive (SNES vs. Genesis, respectively, again, in the west…although the Mega Drive moniker stuck in Europe).
The battle through these console generations created some enduring classics that remain beloved to this day. So much so that both companies continue to put out remakes and compilations of these classic games on modern systems. The game we are looking at today is one of those compilations, featuring classic games from Sega’s library. However, some of the games included in this collection aren’t necessarily the first ones that will come to mind when someone mentions old-school Sega.
Developed by M2 and published by Sega, Sega 3D Classics Collection was released on April 26th, 2016 for the 3DS. The game features remasters of nine classic Sega games, spanning everything from arcade machines to the Genesis. Due to this game being a compilation of multiple games, we will be foregoing our typical in-depth review layout in favor of smaller reviews of each game included in the collection.
Power Drift is a arcade-original Sega game, with this version being the first time the game has been released in the west. The game is a circuit-racing game, with pseudo-3D effects via sprite-scaling. The racer that you play as is chosen from a roulette at the start of the game, and you have your choice of five different race course series, each including five tracks.
While the pseudo-3D appears archaic by today’s standards, the effects are rather impressive keeping in mind this game was originally released in 1988. Turning on the 3D on the system enhances these effects even more, to the point where they can become somewhat dizzying. The art style overall is quite colorful and surprisingly detailed, although the sprites flying by become drastically more pixelized as they approach the camera.
In the gameplay itself, the controls feels somewhat…slippery? It’s the best way I can describe the car handling. I found it difficult to keep precise control of my car through the tracks, and the speed and lack of lead-time when approaching curves made it very easy to fall of the tracks I played through. Despite this (and not being a real fan of racing games), I found Power Drift to be a rather enjoyable experience. It’s not one I went back to often, though.
Altered Beast is a side-scrolling beat-em-up game originally packed in with the Genesis upon release, and it is the Genesis version that is included on this cartridge. You play as a warrior resurrected by Zeus to rescue his daughter from a demon, and you do so by slowly walking across Ancient Greece-themed levels and beating up various monsters.
While this game is oft-remembered as an absolute classic for the Genesis, I found it to be one of the most disappointing games in this compilation. I had never played the game before this, so I don’t have any kind of nostalgia for it. For me, the game has difficult controls and a disappointingly limited move set for a brawler, even for its time.
Of last note, the graphics of the this version of Altered Beast are incredibly dull. Everything appears very washed-out and the color palette is very focused on gray, not lending itself well to eye appeal.
Puyo Puyo 2
Puyo Puyo 2 is an entry in a relatively well-known puzzle game series. This specific entry is an arcade original release, with this being the first time it’s been released in the west. This release also remains in its complete original state, right down to the text still being in Japanese.
The goal of the game is simple: match four like-colored Puyos to remove them from your board and strike your opponent with garbage pieces. The first person to fill up their game board loses. This game is often said to be “stupidly addicting,” and I would have to agree with that sentiment. Outside of the next game on this list, Puyo Puyo 2 is the component of this collection I spent the most time playing.
Despite the lack of localization, the game is easy to navigate and play. Also, I don’t know if I just suck at these kind of games, but Puyo Puyo 2 is surprisingly difficult. After completing the first round relatively easily, every other CPU opponent following that was able to crush me in the blink of an eye if I didn’t speed up and pay attention.
Fantasy Zone II W
Fantasy Zone II W is the newest entry in this compilation, released in 2008 as part of the Sega Ages Vol. 33 collection on PS2. Originally developed by M2, the same developers of Sega 3D Classics Collection, this game is a remake of Fantasy Zone II that interprets what the game would have been like if released on Sega’s arcade hardware.
This game is a free-roam-esque “cute ’em up”-style shoot ’em up featuring one of Sega’s original mascots: the spaceship Opa-Opa. The goal in each stage is to destroy a number of monster-making factories spread throughout the world, after which you fight a boss and move to the next one.
Like I mentioned earlier, this game is the one I spent the most time playing in this compilation. While the concept and goals are rather basic, the overall gameplay is surprisingly addicting. Dodging and weaving through enemies to take out the factories while collecting money to upgrade your ship is simple yet fun. Each stage has a “light” and “dark” side you can freely switch between, with the “dark” side offering more of a challenge.
The game is also quite pleasing to the eye, with loads of bright, pastel colors everywhere. My only complaint is that enemy projectiles are occasionally hard to notice amongst all the brightly-colored chaos.
Galaxy Force II
Galaxy Force II is a space-based rail shooter, originally released in arcades in 1988. In this game you control a spaceship through your choice of six different stages (although the sixth doesn’t unlock until the other five are complete). Presented in a third-person perspective, your ship flies forward automatically, and you have to dodge enemies and projectiles while taking down as many as you can before the stage ends.
Making things more difficult is a limited pool of energy that is constantly depleting as your ship flies. If this energy reaches zero, it’s game over. Taking damage also removes energy from the pool, so your game will be over quick if you’re not careful. Weapons you have at your disposal include a standard pellet shooter and a rocket launcher that can lock on to four enemies at once.
Both this game and the next one allow the use of the Circle Pad Pro (or, if you have a New 3DS, the second control nub) for either movement or throttle. If you don’t have access to this, the touch screen is used, which is much more awkward. Luckily, you can reassign controls freely, so you can create a setup that works best for you.
This is one of the more difficult games in the collection, mostly due to the depleting energy pool, but the variety in environments and great use of the system’s 3D effects make this one worth a play.
Thunder Blade is another rail shooter originally released in arcades, this time in 1987. In this one, you take control of a helicopter taking down various enemy helicopters and tanks. Unlike Galaxy Force II, this game constantly switches between a top-down and a third-person view.
This game, unfortunately, was the worst experience I had in the collection. The control scheme and set-up is incredibly similar to Galaxy Force II, but the controls are also a lot more loose, making the game very difficult to control. Your movement space is also much more restricted here, making dodging enemy projectiles incredibly difficult.
The graphical presentation is quite drab, and incoming enemy fire is often difficult to spot. Being taken down by a projectile I didn’t see coming was much too common of an occurrence. Your two weapons (once again, a pellet shooter and a rocket launcher) target either airborne or ground enemies depending on what perspective you’re currently in, and they seem to switch when your perspective does, making even attacking confusing.
Maze Walker is one of the more unique entries in this compilation. While every other game has had 3D effects added to it by M2, Maze Walker is the only one that was originally made with 3D effects. This game was released for the Master System for use with SegaScope 3D glasses.
In Maze Walker you control a random character trying to find his way out of various mazes while fending off monsters with a pipe. The game is presented from a top-down perspective, with different parts of the maze existing at different depths.
As this game was created for 3D, the 3D function on the 3DS shines the brightest here. However, Maze Walker feels like it was more of a tech demo for the SegaScope glasses than an actual interesting game. The “mazes” aren’t all that challenging, the environments aren’t very distinct, and the game is rather easy overall. Its inclusion is an interesting part of Sega history, but it’s not much more than a novelty. This is probably why it was relegated to an “Extra Games” menu rather than appearing on the front screen list of the compilation, along with…
Fantasy Zone II
This is the original Fantasy Zone II, released for the Master System. The game is, in essence, exactly the same game as Fantasy Zone II W, just presented in its original 8-bit glory. While there are a few differences between this and W (namely that W contains an “endless playthough” mode, while this version contains only the main game), there’s isn’t much reason to load this game up.
Once again, it’s an interesting piece of Sega history, and part of the “Extra Games” menu, but I’d stick to playing W.
Sonic the Hedgehog
What is there left to say about Sonic the Hedgehog? It’s easily the most recognizable game in the collection, and plays exactly as you’d expect it to play. The added 3D effects aren’t all that noticeable to my eyes, but other than that, this is the Genesis original that everyone in the gaming community knows. It’s a classic, it’s a fun game, tight controls, good graphics…not much else to say!
A Bit to Love
Overall, Sega 3D Classics Collection presents an interesting assortment of games, and it’s nice to see a compilation release that isn’t just the same games we’ve seen multiple times before. However, a sizeable chunk of the games included are either just novelties (Maze Walker, Fantasy Zone II) or plain disappointing (Altered Beast, Thunder Blade). At $30 on release, though, the price of entry isn’t all that bad for the remaining games, especially if you’re a fan of old-school Sega.
Puyo Puyo 2 and Fantasy Zone II W are definitely the standouts of this compilation. As a big fan of classic games myself, I’d personally see just these alone as worth the price of admission, although they don’t have enough content to justify the purchase for everyone out there. If you’re a fan of classic games and want to see some of Sega’s past, I’d suggest maybe giving this release a look. It’s not a collection for everyone, though, and I’d recommend researching the games first before diving in.
~ Final Score: 6/10 ~
Review copy provided by Sega for 3DS. Screenshots courtesy of Sega.