Progress: So far I've only really sunk meaningful time into Sonic, Altered Beast and Thunder Blade.
I posted a fair bit about the Sega 3D Classics Collection for 3DS earlier on this year and I was pleasantly surprised that it actually got a physical release here in Europe. Well I made sure to grab a copy right away and while my gaming time has been a little more restricted lately, I've still managed to give the compilation a fair bit of my attention. What I've decided to do is to just play a few games at a time rather than spreading my attention thinly across the whole set so here in Part 1 of my 'Played' feature, I will just be talking about the first three 3D Classics titles that I've had a crack at. And the first one? Oh dear...
RWISE FWOM YOUR GRAVE!
I can't pull any punches here: this game is a load of shit. Now some gamers get the nostalgiac feels for Altered Beast and will try to defend its woeful gameplay by reminding everybody else that it's an old game and this is just "how it was" back then. Well I'm sorry but no, I don't buy that. I've played this game many times before on the Mega Drive and other compilations and every time I will be determined to give it a second chance, convinced that this time, I WILL 'get' it.
Except that I don't. I'm pretty sure that the only reason this game sees re-releases is because of it's legendary crappiness which has given it some comical popularity. It's clunky, limited and just incredibly dull in my mind. The best part is the awesome voiced speech as your character is resurrected from the grave to save Zeus's daughter and again when collecting power-up orbs. Never has the simple phrase "POWAH-UP" sounded so rewarding. That's it though. The combat is extremely limited, character movement too sluggish and there's just very little excitement at all. Special mention goes to your upwards attack which involves the main man lying on his back and kicking vertically upwards. What the f***?
I find it a difficult game too with enemies everywhere (moving much faster than you can), extremely strict collision detection and rubbish mobility considering that foes attack from head-on, behind, above and even below at times. This woman must be something special to wade through all of this crap for but I can't be bothered. Let the underworld have her. All I feel when I play Altered Beast is anger (because it's terrible) and disappointment (that something better wasn't given the 3D Classics treatment instead). Yet I keep giving it another chance? Must be on number 300,897 of those by now!
[Insert ring pick-up sound effect here]
Is there anything more I need to say about the original Sonic the Hedgehog? Not really, except that I have a bit more love for it than the sequel which is supposedly superior for most fans of the blue blur (I hate that nickname but there we go; I just used it).
So while I hold a fair amount of love for this game (it was one of the titles along with Streets of Rage II that I remember playing on the Mega Drive as a child when first being introduced to videogames...) I have to admit that I've never completed it! This isn't for the lack of trying either as I've attempted the feat on the Mega Drive, PS2, PSP and now 3DS but every time is the same: I do really well on the Green Hill and Marble Maze zones - stocking up loads of lives and continues - but then it usually goes downhill in the Spring Yard zone with a fair amount of lost lives. The following water-based zone is typically the death of me (and poor old Sonic). As a side note, it's always annoyed me that this game is all about the speed and yet it's impossible to run that fast with all the spikes, springs, enemies etc. in the way. Other annoyances are those crabs (that seem harmless then randomly stop to shoot fireballs when I'm least expecting it) and that metal thing that chases you in Spring Yard zone (I still have no idea how to avoid or kill the f****r). It's a game full of infuriating moments and yet I'm still powerless to resist "one more go".
As for the port itself, it's quite solid and the 3D functionality certainly makes the background layers "pop" a little more which makes for a pleasant visual experience. It's a subtle touch really but one that I like. I've had a few audio glitches though such as garbled sound effects and the music randomly speeding up for no apparent reason but these only happened once. It's a good port overall even though I think - on balance - I'd prefer to keep playing it on the PSP via the Mega Drive Collection.
Blades of Thunder
By far the biggest surprise of the compilation thus far for me has been Thunder Blade. This was initially lumped in with Altered Beast in the "why have they wasted cartridge space with these crappy games?" category by my
It's a very basic helicopter combat game (originally released in 1987 making it a Grand Oldie on this compilation) which consists of an overhead stage before the perspective switches to an into-the-screen view such as that employed by Space Harrier. You have guns and missiles to take down both airborn enemies and ground-based tanks, trucks etc. Unfortunately your chopper will be destroyed by a single hit from enemy fire or contact with buildings, walls etc. and given how merciless the collision detection seems to be, initial run-throughs will end in disaster for the uninitiated. So it's ancient, tough, unforgiving and as deep as an evaporated puddle - all of the traits that turned me off Super Thunder Blade for the MD.
Thing is though, this game benefits from the 3D slider on the console so much more than most of these conversions and more than standalone 3DS games in fact. Overhead segments have a real sense of height now and the into-the-screen bits are fantastic. Missiles fly convincingly into the distance and being able to see enemy fire approaching in 3D makes it more enjoyable to avoid. Most of all though, it has that bad-ass 1980's heroic feel to it with you being a lone heavily-armed chopper pilot flying relentlessly through a storm of death and blowing the shit out of legions of hostiles. I haven't being doing much big-screen gaming lately but I frequently find myself flipping my 3DS open for a few playthroughs of Thunder Blade and I never expected that I'd say THAT. #shocker indeed.
Tune in next time for my views on some more games from the retro-tastic Sega 3D Classics Collection compilation. Maybe I will even get around to playing the game that I - and almost everybody else - bought this set for: Power Drift!