This week I downloaded two new additions to the Nintendo 3DS' Virtual Console: 3D Space Harrier and 3D Super Hang-On. Nothing new there, you say? Two old Megadrive games now available to download for a few quid - Virtual Console and XBox Live Arcade have been doing that for years! Well think again, brother, these are no ordinary retro game ports - Sega has given them the full 3D makeover, and the results are excellent.
3D Space Harrier
This was me on the train tonight, firing up 3D Space Harrier on the way home from work. Unfortunately you can't see the grin on my face.
It was obvious really. Space Harrier is a classic game, and it's biggest selling point, back in the day (it was released in the arcades in 1985), was its faux-3D effects, unlike most anything gamers had experienced at the time. As soon as I heard this was being converted specially for the 3DS, it seemed obvious that this needed to happen.
The graphics are spectacular too. The sprites are crisp, even as they move along at quite a pace, and the depth of the landscape is surprisingly effective. The controls are sharp, and the game remains very challenging. It is a port of the arcade version, meaning it's a real coin guzzler (only those with lightning reactions will get far on one credit). Fortunately, this means that success can also be achieved by adding more credits and persevering. I'm almost looking forward to going to work tomorrow, just so I can sample some more levels.
There are many options available to the player to keep them interested - controls, music, lives, replays (yes, you can save replays of your most impressive moments), making this far from a 2D release, in every sense of the word.
3D SUPER HANG-ON
Far less forgiving is the 3D updated Super Hang-On. There's something charming about playing a game for the first time, and not being led through a training level by a patronising guide. Too many games these days assume you've never played a videogame before, and couldn't possibly be trusted to figure it out for yourself. So, after a few button presses, I found the accelerator button, and off I went. Unfortunately, those few seconds wasted at the start meant I didn't reach a checkpoint in time, and was greeted by the Game Over screen. A screen which I would become very familiar with, very quickly.
Yes, Super Hang-On is unrelenting. No success can be bought here; here you have to earn it. Mistakes will cost you dearly - if you hit a road sign and come off your bike, you may as well hit reset and start again. I played it for about half an hour and couldn't complete the beginners' course. Apparently there's a turbo boost button... I don't think I'm ready for that somehow.
Like 3D Space Harrier, the graphics are crisp, and the feeling of speed is created very effectively. The depth of the course is convincingly done, useful when trying to judge tight corners and potential collisions with other riders. The closest game I can compare it to is Outrun, Sega's more famous racer.
The extra options are very similar to 3D Space Harrier, and are the icing on the cake for a great game.
In conclusion - 3D Space Harrier and Super Hang-On are appealing updates to classic games. Their difficulty levels will push you to improve, and their extra features will keep you coming back. Best enjoyed in short blasts, there's no reason why today's generation of gamers won't enjoy this trip down memory lane.
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.