Even the name - Sega 3D Fukkoku Archives 3: Final Stage sounds amazing. So to summarise, this third collection promises to feature:
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- Super Hang-On
- Streets of Rage 2
- Gunstar Heroes
- Afterburner II
- Turbo Outrun
Nothing against the other games of course (because they are all stand-out titles) but we have been able to play these games across various formats for many years now. Turbo Outrun however has never had a proper, arcade-perfect home conversion - only ports to home computers that had no chance in hell of doing the game any justice and a seriously naff Mega Drive port. You can of course play Turbo via MAME on a PC, modded Xbox or whatever but it isn't the same really is it? I have played it this way and even though I disliked sitting at the PC, I could see that it was a game I really wanted to play more of. The music is pumping, the courses more involving (floods and oil slicks for example) and the new strategic turbo boost feature for the game's Ferrari F40-alike added another blast of awesome to a familiar formula. Sure, it didn't repeat the same idyllic tone of Outrun but nevertheless, Turbo Outrun stuck close enough to the template of the 1986 original while adding some late 80's edginess to the mix.
|Eyes on the road Mr. Driver...|
This is a game that I've been desperate for Sega to re-release for some time now. Even the original Outrun gets very little exposure in the grand scheme of retro Sega (that Sonic bloke seems to steal the spotlight a bit too much if ya ask me...) so my hopes for a conversion of Turbo to home systems were never allowed to run too high. Now it is happening though and I can only pray that this collection heads to Europe at some point too. Hell, I'll even take Turbo Outrun on it's own as a digital e-shop download if releasing another boxed compilation doesn't tickle the fancy of Sega's coffer overlords.
The 'Final Stage' suffix for this compilation's title does suggest that this incredible run of epic 3D Classics conversions may be drawing to a close. The 3DS is getting on a bit and could be replaced in the near future for one thing so it would be no surprise. In an ideal world however, there would be many more Sega arcade conversions of games that historically haven't ever received a second airing. Not all would be suitable for a handheld such as the 3DS but I'll be indiscriminate about my choices as I present a bonus Top Five! This is a Top Five Sega Arcade Games that NEED Converting.
1. A.B. Cop
What's not to like about a Chase H.Q. style cops-and-robbers game that stars a cop on a futuristic air bike? The game has the same into-the-screen racing action as the likes of Outrun or Super Hang-On and moves at a storming pace with rammed enemies leaving the screen in huge explosions. It screams "Late 80's/Early 90's action hero movie" and has futuristic overtones that slightly resemble Robocop's. This is an awesome-looking arcade game that I'm shocked hasn't been re-released already!
Easily the fastest and most visually stunning of the 'classic' Outrun installments, Outrunners is even more forgotten than Turbo Outrun. It runs at a crazy speed however, features the same drift-happy gameplay as Outrun 2/2SP/2006 and is pretty captivating to watch let alone play. The over-the-top zany style might put off fans of the original Outrun's concept but the fact remains that this is a really fun-looking arcade racer that offers a lot of thrills. Sega however, seems to have forgotten it exists! Sort it out!
3. Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder
Most gamers are aware of the Golden Axe series - a classic side-scrolling beat 'em up franchise that made its name in the arcade and on the Mega Drive. Most gamers however, haven't experienced the true zenith of the series which was the arcade-only Revenge of Death Adder. This game blows all previous installments out of the water in terms of visuals and content. It features branching paths, loads of new enemies, sumptuous detail, new mounts (a fire-breathing mantis!) and a far more diverse cast of playable characters. Death Adder himself has also never looked more bad-ass with the titular golden axe and a huge flame-spitting shield at his disposal. How this game didn't make it to the 2D powerhouse that was the Sega Saturn is a mystery but even worse, the weak 2D fighting game spin-off subtitled The Duel did! In terms of tragedies, it's right up there with the worst but not far off is the fact that Revenge has also failed to appear on any digital download service! Crazy!
4. Planet Harriers
The last word in the legendary Space Harrier series and a pretty late Sega arcade title that continues to remain in arcades...if you're lucky enough to locate a cabinet that is. This is a fantastic-looking shooter that should have been on the Dreamcast, could have been on the Xbox (given Sega's early support of the machine post-DC) and was supposed to have been converted to the Gamecube but none of these things happened. This is a perfect example of a game that sorely needs a digital re-release while the same 'big names' are constantly being re-released. Still, Power Drift is making its Euro debut on Sega 3D Classics Collection and Turbo Outrun is finally getting a proper port so...anything is possible?!?
5. Alien 3: The Gun
An all-action 1993 lightgun title loosely based on a big movie sequel that was decidedly lacking action. Yet, this is an extremely entertaining lightgun shooter that somehow skipped the Mega Drive (and it's Menacer gun) and will likely never be re-released due to licensing issues which is a miserable truth to live with. Yes, it uses 2D sprites rather than the flashy polygons of better-known genre siblings such as Time Crisis and House of the Dead but that doesn't detract from the sheer, relentless pace of The Gun. The 2D is in fact quite beautiful, coming in near the end of 2D's reign where mastery of the artform was reaching its peak. As an added kick in the balls, Alien 3: The Gun apparently runs like shit in MAME (not really surprising) so there's little salvation to be had there either...
In truth, this could easily have been a Top 20 with the amount of Sega arcade gems that never got the home treatment. Some of these may bowl us over by popping up on the likes of PSN and XBLA in the future and others (such as licensed fare like Alien 3) likely never will but it's okay to dream! Of my Top Five, you have to say that A.B. Cop is absolutely perfect for the 3D Classics treatment on the 3DS. It isn't too taxing for the system and isn't as complex as some of the later un-released arcade titles so there's little standing in the way. Let's all agree to never say never!