Fantasy Zone 2: The Tears of Opa-Opa
This is the best kind of sequel. Fantasy Zone 2 remains true to everything that made the first game so enjoyable, and expands it in every direction, offering more variety and substance. There are even multiple endings, if you're good enough to get there. The turbo-fire button will undoubtedly help you in that respect, as will the obligatory save state that comes with modern emulation.
The music is gorgeous, with calypso melodies complementing the colourful action, and the 3D depth is just right, even with the slider all the way up to the top. The addition of warps to zap you between light and dark worlds adds an extra layer of mystique to the Fantasy Zone, and there's even an endless mode available besides the original story mode, making this a great all-round package that fits handheld play beautifully.
3D Space Harrier
After a few years where it looked really, really old, Space Harrier seems to have turned things around and metamorphosed into a timeless arcade classic. Pew pew pew pew! In fact, it's more 'pew-pew-pew-pew-pew', as the game allows you to set the speed of turbo-fire for when you hold down B. Multiple control options, screen modes and a new Time Trial mode make this a commendable emulation for a modern machine.
Speaking of modernity, the best mode of all is the Touch Screen mode, which makes Harrier's movement on the top screen track your finger/stylus on the touch screen, autofiring as you go. In this configuration, it's a brilliant handheld blast. With one of gaming's most treasured soundtracks and the fact you could ride a great big furry dragon like that bit in Never-Ending Story except with less 'yay, Falcor!' and more tree-smashing, Space Harrier encapsulates the 1980s. Definitely worth the asking price if you enjoy simple, zen-like blasting.
3D Ecco The Dolphin
Oh, Ecco. How you represented the early 1990s 'Eco-friendly' surge. Greenpeace probably loved you. Everyone else... thought you were a bit weird. But at least you got into the credits sequence of 'Newsround' on UK children's Television, bridging the divide between kids' real interests (games) and what Auntie Beeb was happy to acknowledge actually existed (other stuff) in a public service broadcast.
In 3D, the deep blue of the background and schools of tiny fish (and bubbles) in the foreground give the game a very pleasant, if shallow (how ironic--it's the ocean) effect. That said, extra depth has been added to some flat layers, which mean it looks like slabs of rock are moving when the camera pans, as they're further back but out of sync with the rest of the parallax. Still, it's a nice little puzzler, if a bit difficult. And bonkers.
3D Galaxy Force II
This is about as far 3D came when it wasn't made of polygons. Everything is made up of scaling sprites as you pilot your ship through asteroid fields, lava-filled caverns, and beautiful cloudscapes. Gameplay-wise, it's a lot like After Burner, only slightly slower and with more control over where you can fly. It's still essentially on-rails, but you do get some route options and there are obstacles to avoid, which After Burner doesn't really have (canyon walls notwithstanding).
The shooting itself obviously took second place to the spectacle of the action in the original design, so it might not hold your attention for long, and there is also some slowdown, especially with the 3D turned on. It can look far too deep on the highest setting, but stick it on half-way and you should find plenty to like here. Thank goodness you don't have to pay for more credits, though - this is a very difficult game.
3D Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master
Shinobi 3 sees Joe Mushashi taking on Neo Zeed. Again. But at least he does it with style. Interesting fact: The game was actually taken back into development so late in its cycle, magazines had already gotten around to reviewing it. It was brought out for real a year later (in 1993) and... didn't set the world alight.
HOWEVER! (Sorry to shout, you've done very well to raed this far and I'm just making sure you're still awake) Shinobi 3 fits 3DS very well. The rather sparse level design looks chunky in 3D, and the previously flat-looking backgrounds appear surprisingly cavernous now they have a Z-axis. The controls are tight and responsive, and they need to be because there's a substantial challenge on offer. If you play games to master them, this is a very worthy purchase.
3D Thunder Blade
The reason Sega's sprite-scaling graphics techniques were so impressive in the late 1980s is that all of the calculations for object location are done in 3D space. So when you add in a visual interpretation of 3D depth, the game really comes to life, almost as though it was supposed to be viewed like this all along. The relatively slow-moving missiles here can be dodged because you can see how close they are to you, instead of having to half-guess on a 2D display.
The top-down sections look nice in 3D, but they're kept short for a reason. The top-down gameplay just isn't as engaging as the chase cam sections, which see you piloting your attack helicopter through detailed pseudo-3D environments. It's a difficult game and certainly not as spectacular as AfterBurner or Galaxy Force, but certainly worth playing if you've exhausted the more celebrated titles in this series. But seeing as there are so many, that might be a little while away.
3D Altered Beast
This might be pushing the 'classic' moniker a little further than I'm personally comfortable with. It's probably worth the asking price to be able to start the game, wait for the first level to start and then close the lid and whack the volume up so next time someone opens it the 3DS shouts 'WISE FROM YOUR GWAVE'. If that sounds worth 4.49 then you should buy this. If not, I can't really recommend it.
This has the same CRT TV simulation as Sonic, but the slow pace means it just looks fuzzy. There's just nothing good here: It's a crap game. It has always been a crap game and will always be a crap game. The 'animation' is crap. The enemies are crap. The difficulty level, the colour scheme, the... pigs. I want it to stop now. In fact, that's it. Altered Beast has sullied this entire articl for me. And for that reason (definitely not that we've reached the end of the list of titles released so far), I'm out.