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Round 2 Of M2’s Fantastic 3DS Sega Ports Has Begun

Growing up in a small town of only 30 000 I didn't have access to a particularly robust selection of arcade titles. The bowling alley at the bottom of the hill where everyone held their birthday parties had a handful of games that I could sink my teeth into; Bust-A-Move, Metal Slug, a couple great pinball tables.

Then there were the water slides (which have since turned into apartment buildings with some name like Lake Breeze or Lake View or Lake Lake Lake) which had Dungeons & Dragons and more Bust-A-Move. Needless to say I didn't have too many opportunities to try some of SEGA's finest wares of the early nineties. What little I have of an arcade history though came rushing back in glorious waves when I first booted up a title from the SEGA 3D Classics line.

Starting in late 2013 with releases in regular intervals into 2014, the 3D Classics went quiet for a while here in the west and it felt like anybody's guess whether the series would continue. Thanks to decent sales of wave 1, 2015 will see the release of wave 2 which includes After Burner II, Out Run, Fantasy Zone, Fantasy Zone II and Thunder Blade. It might be worth it to prime yourself with some of the games from the first wave to see just how M2 has breathed new life into these under-appreciated retro gems.

What I found the most fascinating was that my familiarity with some of the games in the series came second to exploring the games I was completely unfamiliar with. I can work my way through Ecco the Dolphin and Sonic the Hedgehog as well as the next guy, but picking up Galaxy Force II and Shinobi III for the first time was like feeling nostalgia from an alternate reality. I simply cannot recommend Galaxy Force II enough for someone who wants to see how fully-featured a port can be.

The extent that M2 has gone to make the game as close to arcade perfect as it can get on a 3DS is really fantastic. From the Settings menu it's possible to customize the edges of the screen to show the physical framework of the arcade machine cockpit (both versions), complete with stereoscopic 3D depth as if you were able to see past the imaginary machine.

And you guys, Galaxy Force II has some of the best cabinet/box art ever. What is that lady doing? She'll die in space. Get it together, lady.

Galaxy Force 2

M2 has also given all of the games in the series plenty of gameplay settings to customize as well. They've acknowledged that the design principles of arcades aren't necessarily the best fit for a handheld and it's possible to adjust accordingly. Difficulty, numbers of lives, modifications to level timers, and custom button mapping are just a few of the changes that will make these games fit for old-school enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Shinobi III has the option to toggle between the International and Japanese versions. I don't even know what that does! So cool! What is this 'Expert Ninja' button? No clue! Neat!

For hardcore SEGA fans, game preservation aficionados, or those of us who grew up without these titles and want a peek into what their gaming past might have been, I cannot recommend enough taking a dip into this excellent series. They've been ported with a level of care and love that is rarely seen. Virtual Console might be able to learn a thing or two.

The SEGA 3D Classics line is available on the 3DS eShop for $5.99 each with new titles available each month. For more in-depth information on each game and the work that goes into these ports check out SEGA's official developer blog interviews here. Really fascinating stuff.

Then go buy M2's Konami ReBirth series on Wii.