HIGH: The original Sonic in its pixelated glory.
LOW: Maze Runner. It’s SO DAMN HARD.
WTF: The dudes in Power Drift are some strange looking folks.
The frustrating reality about nearly every ‘classics’ or ‘greatest hits’ retro collection is they’re anything but. Many publishers offer just one or two legitimately good games, surround them with a bunch of real stinkers, and let the thing crawl via poor emulation. Thirty wasted dollars later… why?
Sega 3D Classics Collection is, thankfully, not one of these bad eggs.
Sega earns big kudos for re-engineering the titles included in 3D Classics Collection from the ground up. There’s no slowdown anywhere, the graphics and audio truly pop, and controls are perfect and fully customizable. Every single title plays as intended… and sometimes better. There’s also a neat option to customize the audio and visuals to emulate arcade cabinets, there are mid-level saves, and tilt controls (on Power Drift) to simulate a wheel. Great stuff!
The collection of titles here is incredibly diverse and challenging enough to keep a player’s interest for extended periods. The lineup includes:
The original Sonic the Hedgehog
Legendary Genesis launch title Altered Beast
Kart racer Power Drift
Puzzle game Puyo Puyo 2
Helicopter combat title Thunder Blade
Space shooter Galaxy Force II
Original Master System games Maze Runner and Fantasy Zone II.
For those unfamiliar with the lesser-known titles (meaning everything but Sonic and Altered Beast) here are a few nutshells.
Power Drift is a poor man’s Mario Kart, albeit with no weapons or drift emphasis. It’s all about speed and positioning, and the game punishes heavily for collisions. The soundtrack is killer, and there are dozens of levels to play.
Puyo Puyo 2 is a ridiculously hard version of Dr. Mario, and I loved every minute of it. Easy to pick up but with challenging AI, Puyo Puyo 2 is the rare puzzler that quickly improves a player’s skill out of necessity. Other than Sonic, this was my favorite game of the collection.
Thunder Blade is a terrific, twitch-happy shooter than does wonders with 3D effects. It’s also the only first-person helicopter title I’ve seen requiring meticulous ground fire and careful movement between buildings. Thunder Blade is truly something special.
Galaxy Force II was way ahead of its time in level design and shooting dynamics. It’s yet another reminder why the Sega Genesis is arguably the greatest console of its era.
Maze Runner is an overhead hack and slash, and admittedly at the bottom of my gaming totem for this collection. It’s so damn hard, random, and frustrating. It’s also too slow, repetitive and punishing for this reviewer’s liking.
Finally, Fantasy Zone II is an homage to Sega’s early emphasis on bright colorful, seemingly happy worlds fraught with death at every turn. Fantasy Zone II is a 2D sidescroller combining enemies moving in simultaneous linear and wave like patterns. It definitely kept me on my toes!
If there’s a criticism to be had, it’s that not every title truly feels 3D. At the end of the day, only Thunder Blade and Galaxy Force II maximize 3DS functionality. Other titles in this collection provide an increased depth option, but the effects are minimal. Also, the on-screen menu prompts don’t always correspond to the actual buttons (e.g. they say press START when it should be A/B).
These are but small complaints. All in all, I absolutely loved the Sega 3D Classics Collection. Sega did an outstanding job in picking this lineup (they credit fan requests) and the work is presented with love.
Disclosures: This game was developed and published by Sega. This review copy was obtained via publisher, and was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS. About 10 hours were spent with the content.
Parents: Sega 3D Classics Collection is rated E by the ESRB for alcohol reference and fantasy violence.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: Some games feature default subtitles, although audio is never essential to play any of them.
Controls: Sega 3D Classics Collection features complete button-remapping options throughout, also occasional tilt functionality.
Colorblind modes: No colorblind assistance is available.