I’ve become quite a fan of Sega’s 3D Classics; old Genesis and Master System titles released on the 3DS with a fresh coat of 3D paint, and so I was glad to hear another collection of 3D remastered titles announced recently.
But then I saw the actual titles and was disappointed. Five of the nine games in the Sega 3D Classics Collection have already been released digitally, and the four “new” ones are kind of lame. Another Fantasy Zone 2? Power Drift? Puyo Puyo 2???!
Okay, Puyo Puyo 2 is cool, and I’m sure there are fans of the new titles who are ecstatic to see one of their favorites as a 3D Classic game, but I’m sure a lot of people will agree that there are other Genesis games deserve to be a 3D Classic more, and that’s what I want to talk about now – five Genesis games that would be great additions to the Sega 3D Classics library.
In selecting these titles, I had one restriction: I limited myself to games published by Sega, so I couldn’t choose Konami’s TMNT Hyperstone Heist or Castlevania Bloodlines – games that have no shot of getting the 3D Classics treatment due to licensing issues. With that said, let’s take a look at my list:
Let me start with a game from one of Sega’s most popular franchises, and the only game in the franchise that has yet to get a 3D Classics version. When Streets of Rage 3 was released, it was criticized for two things: for not offering a significant upgrade of its predecessor (the excellent Streets of Rage 2) and for its soundtrack.
Because Streets of Rage 2 was such a good game, I can’t really hold it against Sega for not coming up with a more advanced sequel, especially since Streets of Rage 3 came out just a year after. Despite the perceived lack of improvements, Streets of Rage 3 still had enough enhancements to justify a remastered edition: this sequel had multiple endings, in-game cutscenes, weapon special attacks, as well as a new blitz move mechanic and six-button controller support (the Genesis originally had a three button controller). Releasing Streets of Rage 3 as a 3D Classic should be welcome to fans of Sega’s 16-bit era as this would make all three Genesis Streets of Rage games available on the 3DS.
Golden Axe is another one of Sega’s popular franchises back in their heyday. Classified as a hack-and-slash game, the Golden Axe games play quite similarly to Streets of Rage games but has a medieval/high fantasy setting. Often placing high on any best of Genesis lists, any collection of Sega classics is incomplete without at least one version of Golden Axe in it.
It’s always better to have 3D Classics versions of both Golden Axe and Golden Axe 2 but if we were restricted to just one, I’d always opt for the upgraded Golden Axe 2. Similar to Streets of Rage 3, Golden Age 2 was criticized for being too similar to its predecessor and not offering significant enough improvements, but the few improvements that Golden Axe 2 had make it more playable in today’s era. These improvements included the ability to do back attacks, to throw enemies either to the left or right, and an overhauled magic system that allows players more control over the strength of the magic attacks used.
The Shining series is another popular Sega franchise that was very popular during its time and unlike the previous two franchises that I mentioned, the Shining series consisted of different types of role playing games such as dungeon crawlers like Shining in the Darkness and action RPGs like Shining Soul and Shining Soul II. Also quite unlike Golden Axe and Streets of Rage, the Shining franchise withstood the test of time better, with games released under the Shining brand for the Playstation 3 and PSP.
Of all the Shining games to come out on the Sega Genesis, what really stood out to me were the Shining Force games – these were the first ever turn-based strategy RPGs that I was able to play (largely because strategy RPGs like Fire Emblem and Super Robot Wars were Japan-only releases).
Both Shining Force and Shining Force 2 shared several qualities with Fire Emblem games that drew me to the franchise – the high fantasy setting and individual named characters with their own set of classes and abilities to name a few. What makes Shining Force games stand out for me is the cartoonish art style and the way combat is depicted, a style that is well suited for a 3D remaster, with flat 2D sprites popping out of the background on different layers.
Similar to Golden Axe 2, I’d prefer seeing Shining Force 2 get a 3D Classics version over the first Shining Force simply because of the gameplay enhancements that it has.
Vectorman was a victim of it’s time, getting released almost a year after the first Playstation was made available to consumers, so it had to compete with more advanced next generation games when it came out, so the brand is not as well known as Sonic or Streets of Rage.
A solid action/platform game, Vectorman was to the Sega Genesis as Donkey Kong Country was to the Super NES – it was a 16-bit game that looked like it was a 3D next gen game, thanks to the use of pre-rendered 3D models as sprites. Because of this, Vectorman gave Sega Genesis owners a reason to stick with their consoles and allowed them to wait a few more years before moving onto the next console iteration.
Due to the use of pre-rendered 3D models, it may be a little tricky to do a 3D Classics remastered version but the first Vectorman game sold well enough well enough to merit a sequel, so it’s plausible to expect the 3D Classics version to sell enough to recoup its development costs. Vectorman is a significant title in the history of the Sega Genesis that any collection of Genesis games would be incomplete without it.
Comix Zone is another late Sega Genesis release that suffered from having to compete with the next gen games. Unlike Vectorman, Comix Zone offered the usual 2D sprites that games of this era had. It doesn’t even offer innovative gameplay – it’s a beat ’em up game that uses mechanics that prior beat ’em ups have already perfected.
What makes Comix Zone remarkable is how it connects it’s plot and setting to its visual presentation – Comix Zone features a comic book artist who finds himself trapped in the pages of the very same comic that he is working on. The concept of being in a comic book world ties into the game’s presentation – screens are set in comic book panels with the character having the ability to move from one panel to another, dialogues are captured via speech bubbles, and sound effects are accompanied with visual cues like WACK! and BOOM!, all in big brightly colored text.
Out of all the games on this list, I’d like to see a 3D Classics version of Comix Zone the most simply because the 3D effect would work well with this comic book style. Try to imagine reading a comic book, but with everything in different layers of foreground and background. Even if everything is shown using flat 2D sprites, adding some depth would make characters pop from the background and speech bubbles and sound cues pop out even further. Comix Zone, at least to my untrained eye, doesn’t seem to be as technologically complex as Vectorman given that it uses standard 2D sprites all throughout, so I think it’s easier to do a 3D remastering of this game.
And that’s it for the list of Sega Genesis titles that I’d like to be remade as 3D Classics. Currently, we already have several notable titles in the Sega 3D Classics library – games like Ecco the Dolphin, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Outrun, Gunstar Heroes, and Streets of Rage 2 – but this collection of Sega Classics doesn’t feel close to being complete. Since Sega is still in the business of doing 3D Classics, why not release games that are really considered as classics by their fans?
What do you think about the games that I’d like to see Sega 3D Classics versions of? Do you have a favorite Sega Genesis/Megadrive game that’s not on this list that you think would look good if remastered in 3D? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment or two below!