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SEGA 3D Classics Collection

Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Classic/Retro/ Action/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

Sega 3D Classics Collection is a collection of 80's and early 90's games from Sega. We go to the arcade with games like Galaxy Force II, Puyo Puyo 2, Thunder Blade and Power Drift. We visit the home consoles with Sonic The Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Maze Walker and Fantasy Zone II. Technically, Fantasy Zone II is in this collection twice, with a second version being upgraded to run on Segaís System 16 arcade board.

Everything looks and sounds true to the original, which of course, is pretty dated by now. But even with the age, you can tell what made these games so compelling to play. The graphics are bold and colorful. The background tunes are catchy enough to listen to on their own. Gaming was really coming into its own as an art form at this time.

So yes, the 3D in the title of this collection does mean you can flip on 3D for these classic games. Personally, I canít take 3D for long, but I did try it out on each title. Given that weíre dealing with 2D sprites during this time period, all the 3D effect really does is make things float in front of the background like paper cutouts. Itís still a neat effect, but just donít expect some wizardry to turn these old games into genuine 3D games.

Speaking of 3D, Maze Walker was actually designed for use with the Sega Scope 3D glasses way back in 1988. Lest anyone think that 3D gaming is an entirely recent phenomenon, Iíll point out that this was far before the Virtual Boy. And the glasses were not those flimsy, red and blue tinted things that were sometimes packaged as novelties in cereal boxes. No, the Sega Scope glasses were a powered peripheral that actually hooked up to a port in the Master System. Quoting the site called SegaRetro.org, "The 3-D Glasses use a shutter system to close the left and right lens rapidly to create a 3D effect." This allowed 3D effects in full color (an advantage over the old red and blue glasses). I want to reiterate, weíre talking about a game for the Sega Master System, Segaís 8 bit console system. This was way back in the day, even before Sega started picking big fights with Nintendo and released the Genesis. Still, the game required 3D glasses back then, so it was a blurry mess to play if you didnít have them. You could say that this new release actually gives the game a new and exciting 2D gameplay feature!

At this point, I should make the distinction now that there are two types of 3D to talk about here. One is the one where it looks like things are popping out of the screen. The other is the 3D you see in virtually all modern games which is produced by polygonal models that you can freely rotate a camera around as opposed to flat, 2D sprites. It's like the difference between looking at a sculpture and a painting. Back in the day, many games tried to simulate 3D by scaling 2D sprites larger and smaller.

Letís just talk about some of the love Sega put into this game, just in the sound alone. You can actually access the original arcade machine sound for Galaxy Force II. If you donít know why this is a big deal, let me explain just how amazing this machine was back in 88'. You'd sit in a large machine that simulated a cockpit. Once inside, the entire machine would move, simulating flight in the spaceship you control in the game. It was pretty amazing. I remember it being really expensive for an arcade machine (which probably meant it was a big old 4 quarter machine). Outside of a theme park, this sort of large scale interactive machine was pretty unheard of back in the day. Granted, the sounds we're talking about here are only the click of the button presses, but when the developer has taken the time to collect any of the real life sounds that this machine made, thatís saying that someone on the team realized just how special the experience was. Thunder Blade is also given this loving treatment, with actual sounds recorded from a working X-board arcade machine as well.


Gameplay:

SEGA 3D Classics Collection offers a variety of games and a variety of gameplay experiences. Fantasy Zone II offers a unique side-scrolling shooter with the distinct difference of being able to turn around and go in the opposite direction. Power-ups and other items can be purchased with the loot you gain from taking out enemy ships. Galaxy Force II is another spaceship-centered game, but this one sends you through a pseudo-3D landscape. Itís that type of simulated 3D modeling that youíd find in a game like Space Harrier; itís not polygonal, itís just sprites that get larger as they cross from the background into the foreground. It creates a kind of jumpy effect, but at times it actually looks very impressive. Thereís a level that has you dodging curling rings of fire, and here the effect and the feeling of flight is quite impressive. Itís a game that feels fun, and can be a pretty intense experience when the action gets hectic.

Over on the console side of things, you can start with the slightly odd Maze Walker. Itís a rather ordinary game with a protagonist that walks around a maze, picks up items such as shoes that make him jump higher, and generally avoids or beats down enemies with a stick. The music gives it a mellow vibe, and really thereís nothing that stands out about it, but chances are because of the special glasses peripheral required, not many people have had the chance to play it.

Puyo Puyo 2 is a rather simple, by todayís standards, puzzle game. The game is set up in a format that is reminiscent of Tetris and colored blobs drop from the top of the screen. Your job is to match them up to like colors faster than your opponent. This is a game that shows its arcade roots, as it ramps up in difficulty quite quickly. Youíll have to figure out how to fight better and faster, fast.

Power Drift is also a fast-paced arcade game, this time in racing form. That pseudo scaling 3D effect is back, but looking a lot cruder than Galaxy Force II. Still, this is a game with lots of personality, wacky characters, and a fun vibe.

Altered Beast and Sonic the Hedgehog are more easy to recognize, probably because they were each at one time available as a bundled bonus when you bought the Sega Genesis system. These are probably the best two games in the bundle, but there might be a little nostalgia speaking there. Altered Beast is a great arcade beat-em-up with a twist. Collect 3 orbs of power and youíd turn into a powerful beast. It was an addictive formula: spend time feeling pathetic and weak as a puny human, collect orbs, then unleash the power of the beast. The transformation screens were just iconic, and added to the excitement. Flames would surround you as you transformed into a werewolf, dragon, tiger, or a bear. Sonic, of course, is a game that is so famous, it needs little introduction. The version packed in with this collection is where it all started with the little blue hedgehog. The game still holds up well today, with a balance of platforming combined with the speed of Sonicís classic blue-blur rolling.

I should note that Altered Beast also has the option of local play. You can host a game and let your friends join in. Co-op is always a nice bonus, but Altered Beast is especially fun because of the extra mayhem that ensues when you and your friend are powered up in beast modes.

Speaking of extra features, Altered Beast offers quite a few. You can select the Japanese or International version of the game. You can even select the version of the Genesis you want to emulate. Thereís also a screen mode that simulates the rounded corners of an old CRT television set. Now thatís really funny, and really cute. Sonic the Hedgehog also offers the same options. Itís attention to the authentic experience with the console games as well as the arcade games that really shows that love again.


Difficulty:

As many of these games were originally arcade games, SEGA 3D Classics Collection does have some high difficulty. No one was meant to get very far without spending a few quarters, so games like Galaxy Force II would have you on a constant battle against the clock. Puyo Puyo 2 is another game that shows its quarter-eating roots. It starts out relaxed enough and gets your confidence up. However, a couple rounds in and the opponent's skill will ramp up dramatically, leaving you gasping for air.

This collection does have the added feature of adjustable difficulty, however, which is something you would not have control over in the arcades.

Overall, these are retro games, and as such, they are not a walk in the park. Youíll have to memorize enemy movement, get very precise with your actions, and study your surroundings in order to get very far. Most games just arenít feasible to complete on your first try - youíll likely need to repeat levels over and over for practice. Those were the days.


Game Mechanics:

SEGA 3D Classics Collection functions quite well, but it depends on whether youíre judging it from modern standards or not. Compared to modern games, these games just donít feel like they control very well. Itís hard to judge distance or timing in some games because of the way they tried to simulate depth of field with scaling tricks before the onset of true, polygonal 3D. But back in the day, these games and these types of controls were the norm. You adjusted your style, you practiced until you got better, and you beat the game on its terms. This collection feels like an authentic reproduction of that.

Thunder Blade, for example, might be one of the toughest games here, just because itís so difficult to get the hang of the controls and objectives. The same might be said of Power Drift, which feels rather touchy and difficult to control. However, these controls feel pretty authentic to the original, so you canít really knock this collection too hard for that.

I played all these on a 3DS with a circle pad and I canít say I had too much trouble. Of course, some games lent themselves better to the D-pad, but overall, every control worked as expected.

Itís been so long since some of these games, such as Galaxy Force II which was last released for the Sega Saturn, have seen the light of day. Others, like Sonic the Hedgehog, have been available in some form or another for the past decade or so. Still, this is a good collection of classic Sega games. Itís been a while since Iíve seen a developer treat a classics collection with so much care and love as well. It really shows that this is a group of games that wasnít just slapped together for a quick buck. If youíre a retro fan or a Sega diehard groupie, you canít go wrong with SEGA 3D Classics Collection.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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