Review: Sega 3D Classics Collection (3DS)

Sega brings a 3D to overhaul to some great games, along with quite a few mediocre ones.

By Andy Hoover. Posted 04/25/2016 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
All the games run beautifully with well implemented 3D; Sega's classic soundtracks; optional tweaks to playability; Sonic the Hedgehog, Puyo Puyo 2, and the Fantasy Zone games are great.
Poison Mushroom for...
Altered Beast is still horrible; most of the collection lingers in mediocrity; significant portion will only really appeal to old-school arcade fans.

Gamers looking to delve into Sega’s library of classic titles aren’t exactly wanting for choices; major titles have gotten numerous re-releases across various systems and many more have been amassed in collections available on discs or in plug-and-play consoles. That reality is what makes Sega 3D Classics Collection feel somewhat redundant as well as kind of special. It’s one thing to play an old-school game as originally presented, it’s another to see it with a new sheen that is fun despite feeling gimmicky.

But before we delve too deep, it’s worth listing the games in the collection: Thunder Blade, Power Drift, Galaxy Force II, Fantasy Zone II W, and Puyo Puyo 2 were originally arcade games; Altered Beast, and Sonic the Hedgehog are of course Genesis tiles; Maze Walker, Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of the Opa-Opa, and Fantasy Zone are from the Sega Master System. There are plenty of big titles on this list, but all are most certainly not created equal, and time has made things even more unbalanced.

Rather than write a deep review for each title one by one, let’s break these down into some quick snippets starting with the group that’s fares the worst: the arcade games. Thunder Blade and Galaxy Force II are very reminiscent of Afterburner, another big Sega arcade classic that played like Star Fox, and while that was technically impressive back in the day, it translates into a very simplistic experience based on modern expectation. That’s not to say they can’t be fun, but you can tell these games were meant to gobble up quarters every few minutes rather than encourage an extended play session. Power Drift, meanwhile, is a very simple kart racer with a similar behind the player perspective. In some ways you can kind of see the seed of an idea that might one day evolve into Mario Kart, but it once again suffers from being too simple. It is worth noting that if you prefer old style arcade games you could find more joy from these titles.

Now you might have noticed that I left Puyo Puyo 2 and Fantasy Zone II W out of that last paragraph, and the reason for that is they are much, much better than their peers. Puyo Puyo is a very strong puzzler with great sense of challenge and mechanics that will instantly feel familiar to fans of Dr. Mario, though it does suffer a bit from being only in Japanese. The Fantasy Zone games as a whole are probably the surprise hits of this compilation; they all play, look, and feel very similar so the fact that there are three versions present might be a little redundant, but they are very good sidescrolling shooters bolstered by colorful and creative art direction along with a fantastic upgrade system.

Rounding out the Master System titles is Maze Walker, an altogether mediocre top-down action adventure that brings some nice diversity to the collection but doesn’t feel noteworthy beyond that.

Now, let’s move into the Genesis era and get Altered Beast out of the way-– it’s horrible. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve always hated Altered Beast; in fact, it’s one of the first games I can clearly remember every truly detesting. Not only is the game boring due to its slow pace, but the controls are horrendously cumbersome. Playing it feels like a chore and to this day I cannot understand how it ever even gained a following in the first place. Thankfully Sonic the Hedgehog is there to redeem the Genesis, and even though Sonic might never have lived up to the quality of his main rival, Mario, his inaugural outing is a very good platformer in its own right.

What’s nice about Sega 3D Classics Collection is that it’s more than just a bunch of ports– many have been tweaked with additional features, such as adjustable difficulty levels or stage select features. Also, save states have been added to each title. Altogether, these changes help make the games more approachable while also being completely optional so the purists out there don’t have their hardcore old-school experiences sullied. And then there’s the whole 3D thing, which actually looks really good. The effect is more subtle on some games than others, but the overall effect is worth playing with 3D turned on and for some games, like Galaxy Force II, it is actually really impressive. Of course, it also helps that every game runs super smooth, even with the 3D cranked up. In fact, I dare say this is the best playing version of Sonic the Hedgehog I’ve ever experienced.

Of course, no discussion of classic Sega games would be complete without mentioning the sound. Back in the day, Sega really had some phenomenal composers and their approach to music and sound design really shines through in just about every single title. These soundtracks might not be the most iconic in the industry, but they definitely warrant cranking up the volume and plugging in some headphones.

Sega 3D Classics Collection is decent collection of games made better by an earnest attempt to do something fun and unique with older games. Sega could have easily made a cynical cash grab by throwing a layer of 3D paint over everything and calling it a day, but the developers obviously put quite a bit of effort into making everything look as good as it could while also making a few worthwhile tweaks to the playability. Unfortunately, all that effort is actually let down by the selection of games. Most are decent, but outside of the Fantasy Zone games and Sonic, I’d be hard pressed to label any of the other games as truly great, though Puyo Puyo 2 does seem to come close. Bigger fans of the arcade games might be able to find more to like in what’s here, but I think the collection would have been better served with games like Shinobi, Vectorman, or Gunstar Heroes. That being said, there’s still enough here for those looking for something old-school, albeit with some new, fun twists.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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