Monday, 22 August 2016

Sega 3D Classics Get Physical

One of the great crimes I commit with this blog is not talking about retro gaming enough. I am a big fan of older games, still own several retro consoles and have a huuuuuge wishlist of games from the 16 and 32bit eras that I'd love to play. Time is the limiting factor however and I just about manage to keep up with a couple of modern games at a time. Oh and the TV stand is full with no space left to hook anything else up. The retro love still burns brightly however which is why I'm pretty excited about the upcoming physical release of Sega 3D Classics Collection.

For those who don't know, the past few years have seen Sega entrust a large selection of their classic arcade, Mega Drive and Master System titles to a crack conversion team by the name of M2. These wizards have brought the likes of Space Harrier, Sonic the Hedgehog and Outrun to Nintendo's 3DS with (obviously) the obligatory 3D effect and a plethora of added options such as arcade cabinet simulation (tilting in Space Harrier for example), endless set-up options and even the ability to switch between the sound chips of the MD and MDII for Streets of Rage II. The extras vary between titles but suffice to say, retroheads across the globe have been seriously impressed with the detail M2 put into these conversions which could so easily have been straight ports with just the requisite 3D effects bolted on. The line of games has been massively successful - hence the large number of titles released so far - and so it was perhaps inevitable that a physical compilation would be on the cards.

Japan and America have had their compilations for a while now but later on this year, we Europeans will finally get our chance to grab a physical copy of what has so far been a run of digital-only E-Shop titles. The bad news is that if you've already downloaded most of these games then a value-packed all-in-one cartridge release might seem like a cruel kick in the balls. Here at DS90, I've fortunately only downloaded two of the numerous available 3D Classics re-releases (due to having so many other games on the go!) so this bum part of the deal doesn't rile me up. The other bad news is that this compilation is actually the second of two compilations released in Japan and, in my opinion at least, the games on the first Japanese collection are the better games. So what's included on the Euro edition a.k.a (in Japan) Sega 3D Fukkoku Archives 2?

  • 3D Thunderblade (arcade)
  • 3D Power Drift (arcade)
  • 3D Galaxy Force II (arcade)
  • 3D Fantasy Zone II (arcade)
  • 3D Puyo Puyo Tsu (arcade)
  • 3D Altered Beast (Mega Drive)
  • 3D Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive)
  • Maze Hunter 3D (Master System)
  • Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa (Master System)
  • Fantasy Zone (Master System)

This has not aged well and takes up a slot on the compilation...

Immediately, I spy things that disappoint me. Three Fantasy Zone games (two of them Master System sequels)? Bloody Thunderblade? It hasn't matured well at all y'know. Oh and Altered Beast is still a great big pile of cack that fouls up every Sega compilation for the sake of nostalgiac feels. Iconic opening speech aside, it remains a dreadful game no matter how many times I give it a chance. Keep it away from me - please.

The highlights are Galaxy Force II (one I have already got but the 3D effect is stunning and the game is a bit of a visual spectacle), Sonic (re-released to death but still a winner) and Power Drift. The latter is the REAL selling point of this compilation because a) it hasn't yet been released digitally on the E-Shop over here and b) this is (unbelievably) the very first time that the Yu Suzuki arcade racer has been given a home conversion in Europe. You can believe that Power Drift alone will be responsible for shifting many copies of 3D Classics. I don't really know anything about Puyo Puyo or Maze Hunter (another Euro debut) so I won't criticise those but between the Fantasy Zone overkill and creaky duo of 'Beast and 'Blade, I get the feeling that the rest of the cartridge could have been put to better use. I'm not slating Fantasy Zone by the way but we didn't really need three of 'em on the same compilation when there are only ten games total.

I'm a retro fan though and the allure of Power Drift is too strong so of course, I will still be purchasing this compilation as soon as it is available. There's also my belief that a physical copy of a game(s) is always better to have than an intangible digital edition; future-proofing and all that. So yes, despite my grumbles, I will be unable to refuse the offer. Honestly, Sega is like a pretty girl who need only flutter her eyelashes and gently squeeze her breasts together for me to be saying "take as much of my money as you like". It's embarassing but that's the way it is!

Galaxy Force II is a oft overlooked visual tour de force and plays great too.

So I know what you may be thinking right now. You want to know what the first compilation - exclusive to Japan - contained don't you? Well, here's the run-down:

  • 3D Space Harrier (arcade)
  • 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa Opa Brothers (arcade)
  • 3D Outrun (arcade)
  • 3D Streets of Rage (Mega Drive)
  • 3D Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (Mega Drive)
  • 3D Ecco the Dolphin (Mega Drive)
  • Space Harrier 3D (Master System)
  • Outrun 3D (Master System)

Without a doubt, the first volume of Sega 3D Fukkoku Archives is the much stronger package. Space Harrier is the other game that I've already downloaded and let me tell you, it is a stonking conversion complete with cabinet tilting, various screen filters and optional clicky arcade cab button noises. I hammered it and had a great time. Outrun is meant to be one of the very best of the 3D Classics line and the quality of SoR, Ecco and Shinobi III doesn't need to be justified here. Sadly, I reckon it's unlikely that this set will also be released in the West as a Vol.2 package to complete some strange sort of messed-up, backwards translation of volumes. Putting my cynical hat on, I theorise that Sega chose to release Japan's second volume here since it includes the ever-popular Sonic. Retro gamers can take solace in the belated arrival of Power Drift however and the fact that there are still several key titles (Streets of Rage II for example) not included on either compilation, making a trip to the E-Shop still worthwhile. In any case, it's a harsh reminder of the 3DS' archaic region-locked nature which prevents one from importing the marvellous Sega 3D Fukkoku Archives Double Pack (which is exactly what it sounds like).

If you've not played any of these 3D Classics titles before then I heartily recommend that you rectify this mistake right now. The games are all perfect conversions for starters and the wealth of additional options and settings make for a hugely customisable experience that suits veteran and younger gamers alike. They cost a few quid apiece too (between £3-£5 if I remember rightly) and that's a steal to have an arcade perfect Outrun in your hands.

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