Growing up, my hometown had a fantastic arcade called the Family Fun Center. During the heyday of such places, it had nearly everything you could ask for, from games with moving cabinets to the best light-gun shooters, or the latest and greatest fighters. Before I was old enough to travel around the city on my own, my trips to the FFC were pretty limited—so the bowling alley a block from my house was the next best thing.
See, back before everyone had home consoles that could offer up expansive experiences, arcade machines were a hot commodity. Laundromats, convenience stores, supermarkets, pizza places, and bowling alleys often offered up a few game cabinets or even their own mini arcades. The reason all of this is relevant is that bowling alley was the place I fell in love with Power Drift—just one of the classic Sega games I’d come to adore over the years, and one of the main draws to Sega 3D Classics Collection.
You may never have heard the name M2, but the Japanese developer is one of the best studios in existence today when it comes to bringing retro gaming back for newer platforms. Back in 2013, Sega commissioned M2 to port some of the publisher’s older library over to the 3DS, starting with the release of Space Harrier. From there, some of Sega’s best releases from their Genesis, Master System, and arcade eras came to Nintendo’s handheld, all lovingly handled by the team at M2.
Sega 3D Classics Collection is a compilation of some of those releases, offering up the following roster (plus one hidden secret): arcade games Fantasy Zone II W, Galaxy Force II, Power Drift, Puyo Puyo Tsu, and Thunder Blade; Genesis titles Altered Beast and Sonic the Hedgehog; and Master System releases Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa and Maze Hunter 3D.
On a purely technical level, Sega 3D Classics Collection is easily one of the most impressive retro collections around. Even playing on the small screen of handheld hardware, I never once felt like any of these games had been compromised in the transition. M2 made sure they all play just as you remember them—but also as you don’t remember them. Playing in 3D doesn’t make a huge improvement for all of the collection’s offerings, but for games like Sonic the Hedgehog, the feature adds a new dimension (pun intended) that would have blown the mind of your younger self. The individual games also offer a roster of special options, such as screen display choices, region selection, various sound settings, and even the option to use the 3DS’ gyro sensors to simulate cabinet movement for games like Thunder Blade.
There’s next to nothing I could say on a negative level about what Sega 3D Classics Collection is—the problem comes in what it isn’t. Of all of the roster of 3D Classics M2 has worked on for the 3DS, this isn’t the mixture of games we should have gotten on our shores. In Japan, two physical compilations have come out, with the other offering titles such as Space Harrier, Out Run, Streets of Rage, and Shinobi III—a far stronger lineup than what we get here, outside of big-name Sonic the Hedgehog. I love that Sega 3D Classics Collection is finally giving us the four non-Nintendo eShop games in M2’s line-up, especially my beloved Power Drift and Puyo Puyo Tsu (which I originally played on the Genesis as the heavily-altered Doctor Robotnic’s Mean Bean Machine). On the other side of that, even one kilobyte of physical ROM space wasted on Altered Beast is one kilobyte too much at this point.
Being realistic, I think this is the one and only cartridge release we’ll get for Sega’s 3D Classics line-up here in North America, so I’m disappointed that we couldn’t have received the better—or a unique North American-focused—roster of games. When looking at what is, and not what could have been, Sega 3D Classics Collection is a fantastic presentation of the games that it does contain. If you’re starting from scratch, this isn’t the place I’d start. Instead, I’d recommend this collection to anyone who needs to catch up on the 3D Classics line outside of those must-haves you’ve probably already snagged, for those who really want the physical-only games, or for anyone who just can’t get enough classic nostalgic goodness from the days when Sega did what Nintendidn’t.
A younger bowling alley-visiting Mollie would say that this release is worth it for Power Drift alone. Present-day Mollie wonders how she ever got very far in such a brutally hard racing game at that age.
Sega 3D Classics Collection is a hard release to judge. On one hand, it’s a mixed selection of M2’s fantastic library of classic Sega games reworked for the 3DS. On the other, it offers up stellar versions of every one of those games, which fans will especially appreciate.
E10+ - Everyone 10+
|Sega 3D Classics Collection is available on Nintendo 3DS. Primary version played was for Nintendo 3DS. Product was provided by Sega for the benefit of this coverage. EGM reviews on a scale of one to five stars.|
Mollie got her start in games media via the crazy world of gaming fanzines, and now works at EGM with the goal of covering all of the weird Japanese and niche releases that nobody else on staff cares about. She’s active in the gaming community on a personal level, and an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming, consumer rights, and good UI. Check her out on Twitter and Mastodon.