Sega's range of 3D Classics has finally hit the west, and with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Harrier, Super Hang-On and Galaxy Force II already thrilling 3DS owners, this fine selection of reheated vintage legends proves beyond all doubt that good, old-fashioned gameplay never goes out of style — and when it was at the top of its game, Sega simply couldn't be beaten.
Thankfully, we've got more gems on the way — Streets of Rage, After Burner II and Shinobi III to name just three — but this taste of solid-gold retro gaming has us wanting more. Below are ten games we'd love to see get a new lease of life on the 3DS eShop; let us know your own personal choices — and whether or not you concur with our list — by leaving a comment at the end.
Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder (1992)
Golden Axe II on the Mega Drive / Genesis was little more than a wholesale rehash of the original game, but the coin-op only successor — released in the following year — was superior in every single regard. Running on Sega's System 32 arcade board, Revenge of Death Adder boasts massive, smoothly-animated sprites, a wide range of detailed environments and four distinct playable characters.
To this day, no domestic port has ever been released, which is borderline criminal as Revenge of Death Adder is unquestionably one of the best scrolling fighters ever made. A 3D Classics version of the game would remedy this situation perfectly; the 3D effect could be used to excellent effect during the games "into the screen" scrolling sections.
Alien Storm (1990)
Although Alien Storm was granted a home conversion on the Mega Drive, like so many of Sega's ports at the time, it wasn't a totally accurate replication of the arcade original. While the 16-bit edition is a perfectly enjoyable game, the coin-op iteration is the one that truly impresses. It features simultaneous three-player co-op, more detailed sprites and many other additional embellishments — most of which simply couldn't be crammed into the domestic port.
Build on the same foundations as Golden Axe, Alien Storm replaces the fantasy setting with an xenomorph-packed near-future. The show is stolen by Scooter, a playable robot who uses his limbs as laser cannons and explodes when you trigger his special move — an event which causes a replacement body to dash onto the screen and pick up the previously detonated droid's head. Bursting with originality and jolly good fun to boot, the game's first-person Operation Wolf-style bonus stages would transfer especially well to the 3DS console's unique screen.
Power Drift (1988)
Often seen as Yu Suzuki's forgotten arcade racer, Power Drift used the same System Y board as Galaxy Force II and as a result looks quite similar. Instead of polygons, the track is constructed from loads of individual sprites, and each is scaled smoothly to give the impression of speed. It actually works better than you might expect (as you'll know if you've downloaded 3D Galaxy Force II, which uses the same technique) and as a result Power Drift is one of Sega's most visually exciting "Super Scaler" racers.
The tracks in the game are more akin to funfair rides than race circuits, and the large, cartoon-like characters and chunky vehicles add to the level of knockabout fun. It's not as deep as it could be, and the game's penchant for undulating, twisting courses results in your kart falling off the edge quite a bit, but as a showcase of just how far Sega was able to take 2D visuals, it's a must. The 3DS could potentially host the perfect conversion as well, thanks to its auto-stereoscopic display.
Super Monaco GP (1989)
Sega's Formula One arcade racer may be more famous for its highly rated Mega Drive edition, but while the domestic port is unquestionably a fine technical achievement, it simply doesn't come close to the coin-op on which it is based. Smooth scaling grants an effective impression of speed, and the first-person perspective adds immeasurably to the sense of realism.
The 16-bit conversion has more depth thanks to the inclusion of a World Championship mode, but its arcade parent is slicker. With the famous Monaco circuit racing past in the background, this would be absolutely ideal for a 3D Classics makeover.
Arabian Fight (1993)
We have to admit this title is something of a guilty pleasure. Regarded by many as an attractive curiosity rather than a certified classic, Arabian Fight is best described as Final Fight meets Aladdin. The action is pretty basic and it's often hard to make out what's going on due to the large sprites and generally chaotic action, but in terms of pure visuals, you'll have to go a long way to find a better-looking brawler.
Arabian Fight's chief gimmick is its aforementioned characters, which scale smoothly when they move in and out of each environment. During special attacks and other key moments, the fighters actually leap into the foreground and appear as pin-sharp, anime-style animations. While Arabian Fight can't compare to genre legends like Streets of Rage and Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder, it would still be an interesting title to rediscover — especially when you take into account that it never received a domestic conversion.
A.B. Cop (1990)
Coded by the now-defunct Aicom — who would later find fame thanks to the highly-rated Neo Geo blasters Viewpoint and Pulstar — A.B. Cop takes the drive-and-shunt gameplay of Taito's Chase H.Q. and dresses it up in futuristic clothing. You assume the role of the titular police officer (A.B. stands for Air Bike) who is charged with taking down several criminal masterminds.
To actually gain access to each boss, you have to ram a series of henchmen — something which becomes a little repetitive after a while. Still, as a short-burst arcade experience this is one of the forgotten gems of Sega's back catalogue, and was never given the home port it perhaps deserved.
Racing Hero (1989)
A Hang-On sequel in all but name, Racing Hero uses the System X board to take the concept to the next level. Thanks to its lower-down camera perspective, the game delivers a more impressive sensation of pace, and the branching levels — shamelessly lifted from stable-mate OutRun — bestow considerable replay value.
On the downside, the lack of a turbo mode — such a key part of Super Hang-On — means it's not quite as exciting as it could be. Still, the fantastic visuals and addition of road traffic ensure that Racing Hero keeps you interested regardless.
Gunstar Heroes (1993)
Created by Treasure but published by Sega, Gunstar Heroes is perhaps one of the Mega Drive's finest action titles. A dazzlingly showcase of just how far Sega's 16-bit home console could be pushed when in the right hands, it delights in throwing countless sprites around the screen and generally failing to give the player a moment's respite.
Interestingly, M2 ported the game to the Game Gear, which means the company is sure to have a soft spot for the title — and that could perhaps make Gunstar Heroes a pretty solid choice for a future 3D Classic. Keep those fingers crossed.
Blatantly inspired by Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop, ESWAT (Enhanced Special Weapons and Tactics) is hardly the most original game — aside from stealing Hollywood's ideas, it borrows gameplay elements from Shinobi — but it's one of those titles that looked amazing in arcades back in 1989. Detailed side-scrolling levels and outlandish enemies combine to lift what would otherwise be a fairly humdrum action outing, and the ESWAT battle armour is a neat twist.
ESWAT's biggest failing is that it would be comprehensively bettered by the 16-bit Mega Drive edition, which is drastically different from its arcade forerunner. Although home computers like the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST received direct ports of the coin-op version, they were predictably lacking and we'd personally love to see this forgotten series get a revival on the 3DS.
D.D. Crew (1992)
Back in the early '90s, side-scrolling fighters were the games of choice when it came to arcades, and Sega was very active in this genre. However, while Golden Axe and Alien Storm achieved widespread acclaim, D.D. Crew — Sega's attempt to best Capcom's Final Fight — has sadly been forgotten.
While it's arguably not as inventive as Sega's other fighters and lacks the spark that made Streets of Rage so compelling, D.D. Crew is a classic example of the kind of experience that thrilled arcade goers during the 16-bit era. The large, bold sprites and varied environments were way beyond the home technology of the period, which is one of the reasons why D.D. Crew never graced the Mega Drive. The other reason is that it didn't really perform that well in arcades, and remains an under-appreciated gem in Sega's coin-op catalogue.
Screenshots courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101.