- Posted by Carl Lyon
- On April 28, 2016
- 0 Comments
- Nintendo 3DS, Review, SEGA 3D Classics Collection
Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, the kind of wistful opiate that keeps gamers purchasing and repurchasing classic titles from their youth, or playing the often-dubious “HD remasters” that spit-and-polish aging titles and justify their existence through buzzwords like “60FPS” and “1080P.”
The Nintendo 3DS—hell virtually all Nintendo consoles since the Wii—has carved out its nostalgic niche with the Virtual Console, monetizing memories with easy-to-download ports of classic titles so that we can feel that childlike sense of wonder all over again and relive our long-gone days of carefree youth, before we had to worry about mortgages, relationships, taxes, or even our own children. The 3DS’ glasses-free 3D tech has allowed it to make its own sub-niche: the 3D port. Games like Xevious and Kid Icarus have had their musty sprite-based graphics engines retooled to allow for snazzy parallax effects and diorama-like depth, giving the game a slightly new feel, even if it plays exactly like you remember.
SEGA has ported several of its games from the Master System and Genesis days to the 3DS (the fact that SEGA titles are playable on a Nintendo console is still a mind-boggling concept to me) in the obviously-titled SEGA 3D Classics Collection, bundling together 8 games (technically 9…more on that later) that range from obscure underdogs to genuine classics. Not sure of a handful of retreads? Well, SEGA 3D Classics Collection includes…
Power Drift is a simple, arcade-style kart racer that emulates 3D with stomach-churning sprites. While its rolling hills and valleys are a welcome change of pace from the pancake plateaus of games like Outrun, the pseudo-3D literally starts to show its seams when you collide with another driver, making the level spin around and your guts do the same. It’s dead simple and about as deep as its paper-thin sprites, but there’s a certain charm to it that’s oddly addictive in microscopic bursts.
Puyo Puyo 2 is a Japanese imported puzzle game that’s essentially Dr. Mario without the pill-tossing plumber. You match together groups of four or more colored blobs, sending unmatchable clear blobs into your opponent’s playfield. While it was imported in the most barebones sense—pre-game trash talk from your opponents remains in the original Japanese—it’s a fun, frantic puzzler. However, one really has to question its purpose, as the 3D does virtually nothing to enhance the game at all.
Sonic the Hedgehog really doesn’t need any explanation, does it? It plays exactly as you’d expect, albeit with the game’s parallax layers retooled to give the game that snazzy 3D look. Once again, the 3D adds little to an already fantastic game, but Sonic is always a welcome addition to any retro collection.
Galaxy Force II is essentially Afterburner in space, and probably one of the games that benefits the most from the 3D upconversion. You guide your ship against countless waves of enemy ships in three-dimensional environments that use the same trick as Power Drift, stacking layers of sprites together to create the illusion of depth. Unlike Power Drift, Galaxy Force II moves at a very different pace, which means that the illusion isn’t shattered as easily, and the sense of scale is far more impressive. It plays great, looks great, and is easily the best game in the collection.
Thunder Blade is another unexpected delight, offering up variety and insane amounts of carnage. You pilot a helicopter between two different perspectives—both a traditional overhead shooter and a chasing 3D style like the aforementioned Galaxy Force II. You fly through urban areas that are positively infested with tanks, turrets, helicopters, and fighter jets before facing off against stunningly massive bosses that rival the size of the levels themselves. There’s a bit of a learning curve to the controls, as the 3DS doesn’t have the arcade game’s throttle-and-stick combo, but it’s a blast and a half for shmup-junkies.
Fantasy Zone II is certainly one of the more unique titles in the collection, with its R-Type style sidescrolling perspective, cutesy pastel palette, and sprawling levels that send you both left and right to deal with your objectives. You play as a semi-anthropomorphic ship named Opa-Opa and you have to rain delightful death upon your adorable arch-nemeses. It’s the aesthetic equivalent of an Easter-themed war film.
Finally, Altered Beast wises fwom the gwave with a pitch-perfect port. There’s a familiar comfort to the game’s stiff movement and early 16-bit graphics, even if it hasn’t aged as well as other games from its generation.
Finally, under the nebulous “Extras” heading, there are two more games. Why they weren’t included in the roster of the game proper is a mystery, but a tap of a button will give you access to Maze Runner, a rather bland top-down game where you run…in a maze…well, at least the title is honest. The second Extra is the original 8-bit version of Fantasy Zone II, which basically plays like a less crisp and fluid version of the 16-bit version that’s included in the game proper.
From a presentation standpoint, SEGA 3D Classics Collection looks and sounds exactly as you would expect. These are games from the late 80s to the early 90s, and your tolerance for pixelated artwork and sometimes clunky controls will dictate exactly how much fun you have with this bundle. Some still look fantastic, like Sonic, but some others (I’m looking at you Power Drift) definitely show their age. The same goes with the controls, which translate the custom controls of arcade cabinets to the 3DS’ button layout. While this is fine for most of the games, it definitely hurts games like Thunder Blade.
While not all of the games included in the SEGA 3D Classics Collection are worthy of a trot down memory lane, unexpected gems like Galaxy Force II make it a more intriguing anthology if only because of the scarcity of some of these titles. Yes, the 3D is often gimmicky, but when it works (hello again, Galaxy Force II) it works shockingly well.