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3D Classics

3D Gunstar Heroes revitalizes Treasure's debut action title

Aug 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Released towards the end of the Sega Genesis' life in 1993, Gunstar Heroes was Treasure Co.'s first title, and it was certainly a hell of a debut. While it quickly became a favorite among action fans and gaming press, it mostly went under the radar for many Genesis owners. Though the spotlight was on the release of the upcoming Sega Saturn, Gunstar Heroes still managed to become a cult hit among hardcore gamers. But over the years, it's cemented itself as one of the Genesis library's most loved and sought after titles, and even saw a sequel in Advance Gunstar Heroes for the GBA. This made it a prime candidate for the remaster treatment in Sega's 3D Classics series. Speaking with producer Yosuke Okunari, he spoke at length about the respect and admiration they have for the hectic and punishing action title."This was Treasure’s debut game. Everything they ever wanted to do, but couldn’t up until then, is poured into and represented in this game," said the producer while reflecting on the title's legacy. "The game’s volume and difficulty balancing is really spot on in my opinion, and you can feel the passion of the original dev team when you play the game even now. Their follow-ups, Dynamite Headdy and Alien Soldier, were really good games in their own right, and while the games' volume and difficulty were appropriate for its own day, they might not stand up so well in modern standards [In regards to difficulty curves]."Taking place in in a world where a massive army of mercenaries are seeking world domination, it's up to a family of crime-fighters known as the Gunstars to stop them. With the evil Colonel Red (called Colonel Grey in Japan) having acquired four powerful gems to power a massive robot capable of conquering the world, the brothers Gunstar Blue and Gunstar Red have to put a stop to the army's evil plans, all the while finding the whereabouts of their missing brother, Gunstar Green.Unfortunately for me, I missed out on Gunstar Heroes back in the day. While most of my attention was on titles such as Streets of Rage, Mortal Kombat, and Sonic, this one totally slipped past me. It sucks, because my seven year old self would've lived for this type of game. In similar style to Saturday morning cartoons or Japanese anime, the action and tone of the story is extremely over-the-top and takes place in episodic order, allowing you to go about clearing the game in anyway you want.For the uninitiated, Gunstar Heroes blends together high-octane shooting with some light-brawler action set across a series of unique and challenging levels. In the vein of classic side-scrolling shooters such as Contra, two players can utilize a variety of weapons, ranging from close-range flamethrowers, energy beams, and homing lasers. Moreover, players can even select aiming modes with Free-Aim (moving and shooting) or Fixed-Aim (stop and shoot), to suit their play styles. Even at close range, the Gunstars know how to handle themselves. Unlike the Contra guys, the Gunstars can throw, kick, and dive attack enemies that get too close for comfort. Utilizing all these skills is quite easy, and you'll be able to kick ass with ease.I was pretty blown away by the performance of 3D Gunstar Heroes on the 3DS. The original was quite an achievement on the Genesis, and seeing it in action in 3D is a trip. The visuals in the game use a number of graphical tricks and gimmicks that made the action really pop, and the 3D option really does a lot to enhance those aspects of Gunstar's visual design. Some bosses even have some quasi-3D animations and visuals, which was extremely impressive back on the Genesis. With 3D Gunstar Heroes, the overall performance is rock solid. Even with the 3D enabled, I was blasting enemies with screen-filling weapons and watching foes rush the screen with no drops at all. The folks at Sega saw porting over Gunstar Heroes as a major challenge, and actually put it off until they had more games under their belt."When we went about these Genesis 3D conversions, back when we first got the project off the ground, we thought that if we could get Gunstar into what we considered ideal 3D, then there was no way it wouldn’t be a good game," said the producer. "However, we knew that we had to wait until the development team had the experience needed to go about converting the sheer number of stages and all the odd perspectives the game used. In three years, M2’s team has worked on 13 titles (and then some), and they were finally ready to handle Gunstar since they now had the speed and skills to pull it off."Of course, one of the most admired aspects of Gunstar Heroes is its unique power-up system. While you select a core weapon at the beginning of each mission, power-ups acquired while out in the field will act as modifiers to your main weapon. For instance, using the lightning gun with the chaser power-up (green homing laser), it turns the lightning weapon into a homing laser that targets nearby enemies and clings to them until death. The weapon combos get pretty gnarly as you switch things up, and each combo changes the gameplay and strategies up considerably. In keeping with its focus on challenge, the original game only allowed core weapon selecting before the beginning of a mission. This design was to ensure players would commit to a weapon and stick with it for the level. Unfortunately, it was very often players would choose poorly and be stuck with an ineffective weapon for a level that may call for something more versatile. While many of the more skillful gamers could make it work, most players would often have to restart and pick a better weapon. This was one area the developers at Sega wanted to improve upon. With the addition of the brand new 'Gunslinger' mode, players can now switch between core weapons on the fly. While many hardcore fans might find this a bit sacrilegious, the developers had a lot of discussions about the new mode, and even took some inspiration from other titles from Treasure's library. "In Gunstar Heroes, there’s a lot of weapons, but the opportunity to change weapons is somewhat limited, so sometimes you get all caught up in using that one combination you like," said Okunari while discussing their work on Gunslinger mode. "It’s possible that people just never had the leeway to try different weapons or control modes. But by using Gunslinger Mode, you can now try a different weapon combination on that boss that used to give you a hard time back in the day, and you might find that you can beat them a lot faster. It’s a chance to try playing the game the way the developers originally intended. This does have the impact of lowering the difficulty. The 3DS’s controls are different from the Genesis, and we want people who played games back but maybe not so much now to be able to have fun with it. The gamers back then are probably more or less the same age as me, and they might not have the same skills they used to, you know?""This is something we can say for all the ports, but the SEGA 3D Classics development team were all fans of the games back when they were released. We know what makes these games good, so we didn’t need all that much time to figure out what sort of support features a person needs to play the game in today’s world," continued the producer. "The core of Gunslinger mode comes from a sequel made by the same development team called Alien Soldier, a game with a bit of a cult following that was only released in Japan and Europe. The key lies in this game. In Alien Soldier, you can choose from a number of weapons and control modes at will right out the door."Thankfully, I can say that the new mode is in keeping with the core Gunstar experience. The game was still tough as hell, even with the extra room to experiment and adapt to challenges with the weapon switching. I was pretty impressed with how well balanced the game is. Even with the larger arsenal, the enemies still can overwhelm and outmatch the player. I'm more than certain fans of the original will find a lot to like with Gunslinger mode. With the increased access to weapons, you'll be able to get to core of what Gunstar Heroes is about without much hassle.All in all, I have to say that 3D Gunstar Heroes is a pretty stellar port of the original. While I'm still kicking myself for missing out on this one back when I was a kid, I still managed to recall those days of wonder and excitement while spending some time with this installment. I feel as though this entry will bring in a lot of new admirers to the series. In many ways, Treasure was ahead of the curve when it released this title, but not that many people realized it. Thankfully, 3D remastering has done the original justice, and it'll give new players curious about this cult favorite the chance to give it a shot. But take heed: all the hype about this title's challenge was not exaggerated one bit. Be ready for this one.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Lock and Load on August 20
It's been pretty wild re-experiencing many of these past titles in Sega's 3D Classics series. In the last few months, we managed to get 3D remasters of several games that have defined Sega's legacy as one of the most famous g...

3D Streets of Rage 2 is a return to classic brawler action

Jul 22 // Alessandro Fillari
Released back in 1992, Streets of Rage 2, called Bare Knuckle II in Japan, was an immediate hit with Genesis owners and still stands as a favorite among beat-'em-up fans to this day. Set a year after the events of the first game, our street-fighting brawlers have to take back control after the sprawling criminal empire the Syndicate kidnapps one of their allies and plunges the city into chaos. Teaming up with pro-wrestler Max, and a young rollerblading brawler names Skate (the brother of SoR1's Adam), Axel and Blaze have to scour the city while scrapping with vicious thugs that work for the ever-elusive Mr. X. I spent many hours with Streets of Rage 2 when I was a kid, and the flashy neon lights and bombastic atmosphere -- along with Yuzo Koshiro's bumping synth score -- are imprinted in my memories of those glorious Genesis days. Surprisingly, there's a strong focus on plot in these titles. While most beat-'em-ups settle for the save X from Y plot and call it a day, SoR goes a bit beyond that by wrangling in government conspiracy and even throwing in some crazy sci-fi angles. Though the narrative is pretty much on par with B-level action movies, it still goes a long way with setting the tone and atmosphere. While there was another follow up with SoR3, the second game is my favorite and holds up remarkably well. Fortunately for us fans, Sega agrees and it's since been ported over to many different platforms, including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and even iOS. However, with its upcoming release on the 3DS, this marks the first time you'll be able to play the game in 3D. "Streets of Rage 2 was the most popular of the three games in the series, so we actually had 2 slated as a conversion candidate from the very beginning," stated producer Yosuke Okunari. "However, when we first starting the development on these games, there were technical issues around getting this game into 3D, and it was deemed an impossible task so we gave up on it. If you've spent time playing the game, you've probably noticed that these sorts of side-scrolling beat-'em-ups are extremely well-suited for stereoscopic 3D (we actually call them 'belt action' games in Japanese because it's like being on a conveyor belt). The benefit of being able to visually confirm that you are lined up with your enemy and thus avoiding whiffing is huge." Coming off the original, the sequel featured a number of innovations and upgrades that made it stand apart from its predecessor. Aside from the obvious visual upgrade, which features sharper graphics and more detailed environments and character designs, the combat mechanics were greatly expanded to include new character-specific moves and super attacks. While I'm sure there were many who missed the police backup from the original, the focus on character diversity and growth was what made Streets of Rage 2 a true upgrade. During their work on the original's 3D remaster, the developers overcame the challenges of translating the unique visual style to bring over its sequel. "The graphics in these games were not like modern 3D, so there's a lot of pseudo-3D going on [referring to the diagonal side-scrolling stages], and when you take that and apply real stereoscopic 3D to it, you get conflicting visuals. So at the time, we thought we wouldn't be able to get the game into 3D," explained Okunari. "That said, because we were able to get the first game in the series into 3D, the staff's ability and know-how around 3D conversions saw huge improvements, and we found ways to work around these sorts of conflicting situations, and thus making the project a reality." After several playthroughs with the 3D remaster, I was impressed with the quality of the port. I can assure you that the pictures do not do the game justice. The side-scrolling visuals really pop with the 3D enabled, and many of the animations and action sequences feel more pronounced. The visuals on the 3DS feel sharp and with no slowdown or loss performance, which is great for when things get really hectic. While the game is largely as it was, gameplay feels just as precise as it was back in its heyday on the Genesis. It's a true testament to the design of the game, and it feels right at home on the handheld. As with the other 3D Classic releases, Sega has decided to do fans one better with the addition of new gameplay modes. In 3D SoR2, players can now experience the new mode called Rage Relay, which gets people playing as other characters during their run. Upon death, your starting character will switch over to the next one from the roster. For instance, if you start out playing with Axel and you get taken during a tough encounter, then you'll switch over to Max upon respawn. Initially, I found it to be a pretty odd gimmick, but I'll admit it came in handy during tough bosses or enemies which called for a bit more brute force. The developers included this optional mode as a way to encourage trying out the other characters after noticing how often players would stick with their favorites. "The original development team that worked on SoR2 was heavily influenced by Street Fighter II when making this game, so rather than a normal beat-'em-up, they really wanted each character to have their own feel, so each character has a very unique play style associated with them," said the producer. "However, unlike competitive fighting games, people tend to only play with the character the choose first for beat-'em-ups, and we didn't think most people strayed from that initial choice. There's four characters here, each with their own play style, so we wanted to make sure every character got a shot and make it interesting by giving players a chance to try characters they didn't really used back in the Genesis era. Our answer to this was Rage Relay." To say I had a great time with 3D SoR2 would be an understatement. I was pretty damn happy with how this remaster turned out. Not only do the new features help liven up the experience, the core gameplay still shows that simple beat-stuff-up action can be a ton of fun. And with local play available, you'll be able to team up with friends to take down Mr. X. With its release approaching, I can tell that many fans of Streets of Rage 2 will feel right at home with the 3D remaster. Not only has this title held up well, but it makes some impeccable use of the 3DS hardware. Once you fire up the game, and Koshiro's synth score reverberates through the opening title crawl, you'll be hooked. It's a total blast from the past, and it'll get your adrenaline pumping in no time.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Taking back the streets on July 23
Growing up, one of my favorite genres was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. From Final Fight to Double Dragon, I was quite fond of the action found in traveling through different stages and kicking the asses of gang members and...

Sega's Thunder Blade makes a fierce return in the 3D Classics Series

May 13 // Alessandro Fillari
Originally released in 1987, Thunder Blade brings players to the helm of a heavily armed attack helicopter as they battle waves of foes in tanks, jets, and battleships across a variety of locations. Much like the other Sega offerings of its time, the story is kept light in favor of offering accessible and fast arcade-style gameplay. You're the good guy, everyone else is bad -- shoot them. Though unlike most other shoot-'em-up titles, Thunder Blade features a unique take on perspective, as the action will transition from an overhead angle to the over-the-shoulder look similar to Space Harrier during key sections of the stage. This dynamic switch of perspective made it a welcome fit for the 3D remaster. "We felt that this point of view was extremely well suited for a stereoscopic 3D conversion," said producer Yosuke Okunari. "When we went to actually build the game out in 3D, we found that it gained a very unique sense of actually being suspended in their air, and was even more impactful than the original game. This same thing happened with 3D Galaxy Force II, where by implementing stereoscopic 3D, the game's visual view point style transcended in to its final form, you could say." Thunder Blade has made the transition quite well, and the new hardware has done wonders for the gameplay. The frame rate is rock solid, and the controls for the 3DS are super sharp and make controlling the attack chopper feel very accurate. The left stick controls movement and altitude, while both shoulder buttons control speed (increase and decrease). Though the 3DS is a far cry from the control scheme found on the original arcade release -- which featured a flight stick and a special chair that sought to emulate the cockpit of a helicopter -- I can safely say that 3D Thunder Blade is a fine port, and the action still kept me on my toes during the hectic battles. Much like the other 3D Classic titles, Thunder Blade makes exquisite use out of the new 3D visuals and hardware. One of the most striking elements is its depth of view during altering perspectives, and the new 3D visuals do well to enhance the view and sense of movement during the action. Though the draw distances unfortunately haven't been improved, I was still quite impressed with how the visuals sharpened up. Interestingly enough, the transition to 3D meant having to design the new visuals around the new perspectives independently, and layering them on top of one another. "For this version, we had to implement 3D separately for each of these three types of scenes," said the producer. "The boss stages were particularly difficult. The original game actually had preset depths. Even more so than some of the Genesis games, there were a number of situations where we wouldn't really have to worry about if we left them in 2D, suddenly [having] paradoxical situations when we put them into 3D." "Thunder Blade has three types of gameplay for every stage. The first are scenes that are from the top-down, which allow you to fully appreciate and enjoy changing your helicopter’s altitude. The second are scenes that are 'over the shoulder,' which are reminiscent of After Burner II. The last are the boss battles, where you are not able to change your altitude but you are placed into a forced-scroll situation where you can control your speed and progression. There are no other games that allow you to experience these three types of gameplay all in a single game." Though they were keen on keeping the 3D remaster as it was with the original title, they did implement some new features -- both out of necessity and the desire to include new content with the original game. As some areas didn't take to the new 3D visuals too well, such as shadows glitching out and boss battles resulting in odd bugs, they had to be cut in order to preserve the experience. But in order to make up for this, they implemented a stage that's brand new to the original Thunder Blade. Okunari stated that the new level will be consistent with the rest of the game and really offer an exciting finish. "The new stage feels natural and uses the graphical style of the era, all while taking advantage of the stereoscopic 3D to deliver a scene where you flying into the center of a base, reminiscent of the final Death Star scene in Return of the Jedi. The boss has a really awesome background to it as well, so I encourage everyone to check it out." Not only that, there's the new Arrange mode which is unlocked after completing the arcade mode. In Arrange Mode, players will control an alternate helicopter with different weapons and tackle stages that have some additions to them. While the the original arcade mode is exciting, the extra content goes above and beyond what I expected. I was pretty damn pleased with how 3D Thunder Blade turned out. It helped to scratch that shooter itch I had after playing Space Harrier and After Burner, and Thunder Blade definitely holds its own. While the style and approach is a bit different, I still found it to be a welcome addition to the Classics series. And it's a fine 3D remaster, too. This title is a good one to close out the spring phase of the Classics series, and it'll definitely hold you over till the summer titles come a knocking.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Sans crazy arcade installation
It's been a real joy re-experiencing classic titles from Sega's past. With the recent releases of Outrun and Fantasy Zone II bringing back some serious nostalgia trips, the folks at Sega have still got plenty of 3D remasters ...

Genesis on 3DS photo
Genesis on 3DS

A new batch of Sega Genesis games is getting the 3DS treatment


Streets of Rage 2, Gunstar Heroes, and Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Apr 14
// Brett Makedonski
Nintendo 3DS owners have a fairly solid stable of new videogames to choose from. Sega's going the other direction and offering experiences that are remembered by most of the bygone days of Genesis gaming. In fact, the movemen...

Sega brings back OutRun with style for the 3D Classics Series

Mar 11 // Alessandro Fillari
For those not quite familiar, OutRun is an arcade-style racing game that tasks players with racing their shiny Ferrari Testarossa across a stretch of land. At several points, you'll be able to choose which path you'd like to take, which will take you to a brand new setting that you'd likely not see in previous playthroughs. This nonlinear gameplay was rather unconventional for a racing title, which made it quite popular with arcade goers who wished for repeat plays. Over the years, it's developed quite a legacy for Sega, and it has even inspired musicians like Kavinsky for its portrayal of style in high-speed. It was a rather seminal title for Sega, earning a lot praise and finding much success in the arcades. Developed by Yu Suzuki, the creator of Shenmue, Virtua Fighter, and After Burner, it focused on fast gameplay while giving players a soothing and equally pulsing soundtrack to listen to. It even got several followups over the years. But with this remaster of OutRun, the folks at Sega had to put in extra work to retain the the original's style and feel without watering down the experience. "OutRun and After Burner II are two games that were the most important games in Sega’s history through the 1980s. However, due to a number of reasons, there was a time when there were no opportunities to port these two titles to other platforms," said producer Yosuke Okunari. "The most important thing for these kinds of games, and this is apparent from a video of the game you may have seen, is not to take these important games and try to remake them completely from scratch, but rather to recreate the playstyle as faithful to the original as you possibly can. And because the game preserves the feeling of the era it was made in, that history and the memories of those times can be communicated to everyone." During my playthrough, I immediately noticed how much smoother it felt. I played a bit of game when I younger in the arcades, so seeing this in action on a handheld was kind of a trip. And with the 3D enabled, the game doesn't lose performance one bit. It was impressive to see that a super fast racing game like OutRun would be able to make the transition so well. Honestly, it felt a bit hypnotic going over 200 km an hour. Once you're in the zone, you're kinda in a trance. Okunari-san explained that with the success of the previous titles on 3D Classics, they were able to tackle the necessary hurdles porting OutRun would take. "The 3DS is a notable piece of hardware, but it’s not a console that’s particularly well suited for creating faithful ports," he explained. "And so we were not able to include these two titles when we first began the development for the Sega 3D Classics. Only through the success of the first batch were we able to obtain the technical know-how and development budget to work on these two titles. It’s because of all the fans’ support." Often times, the 3DS tends to have some trouble with handling ports of classic or even recent titles. Which made porting the game, despite its age, somewhat of a challenge. One of the techniques that titles like After Burner and Space Harrier use is a way of presenting 2D sprites as pseudo-3D visuals, which is done with unique sprite-scaling designs. But in order to keep it consistent with other titles, the developers had to double the performance on OutRun, upgrading it from thirty frames per second to sixty. "Tying to get squeeze out more performance that the original title supported was a very difficult undertaking," said the producer. "Simply straight porting the game as is would prove to be a challenge in and of itself, but we had to optimize and improve the programming so it would run twice the speed as the original. Also, we added two new songs to the game, and made a point that they had to blend naturally and feel completely natural in the game, which was also a great challenge. Essentially using the same sound sources as the original, while ensuring that they would sound different and unique compared to the original three songs. New songs in the style and feel of the era when the game was originally released, back in the '80s." It's certainly eye-opening to see the amount of work that goes into remasters for classic titles. I supposed with the technology we have now, it's easy to think of products and software from the past as easy to make, or even easy to transition onto current hardware. Given the limitations they had and parameters they had to work within, I'm very impressed with what I played. I spent a good amount of time with OutRun on the 3DS, and it played like a dream. I highly recommend giving it a shot, especially if you're a first-timer. The sense of speed is just as sharp as it was back in the arcade days and experiencing it within the palms of your hands is real rush.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Race with flair on March 12
One of the great things about Sega's ongoing 3DS Classics series is that it allows retro games from the publisher's past to find a new audience. And given its rich and diverse history of quirky and fan-favorite titles, there'...

Fantasy Zone photo
Fantasy Zone

Fantasy Zone is skyrocketing to the 3DS Classics line


What a great shoot 'em up
Mar 13
// Chris Carter
I'm in love with the 3D Classics line. Not only are they usually superb 3D ports, but they're not just lazily emulated like the Virtual Console releases -- they're actually reworked from the ground up with tons of extra ...
Streets of Rage 3D photo
Streets of Rage 3D

Streets of Rage 3D Classic will come with a new mode


'One Hit Deathblow Mode'
Aug 09
// Chris Carter
Sega is keeping the 3DS Classic train rolling, and in Japan, Streets of Rage will hit the 3DS on August 21st. This isn't a straight port though, as it'll add a "One hit Deathblow Mode" to the game, which allows players to kil...
3D Sonic 1 on eShop photo
3D Sonic 1 on eShop

3D Sonic The Hedgehog coming to 3DS eShop in Japan


The other side of the rainbow
May 12
// Tony Ponce
It's been a while since any region outside of Japan received a new 3D Classics touch-up on the 3DS eShop. You may think that the only difference between the originals and their 3D remakes is the added stereoscopic effect, but...
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Pre-order Kid Icarus: Uprising, get 3D Classics original


Jan 28
// Ian Bonds
Still on the fence on whether or not you'll be getting Kid Icarus: Uprising for 3DS when it's released this March? The fact that it comes with a stand not enough for you? How about a free download of the original NES classic,...
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Kid Icarus coming to 3D Classics


Oct 21
// Jim Sterling
Kid Icarus is the next game confirmed to hit the 3DS' "3D Classics" range, and at least it's a classic this time. A classic that people have tricked themselves into thinking is good despite it being a bit rubbish, but a class...

Review: 3D Classics: Urban Champion

Aug 21 // Jonathan Holmes
3D Classics: Urban Champion (3DS eShop)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoReleased: August 18, 2011MSRP: $4.99 "This game is genius!" giggles Miyamoto. "If only people today understood how great it is!" Iwata presses pause on the game, grabs Miyamoto by the cheeks, forcibly turns his head towards Iwata's, and looks him dead in the eyes. "I'm the President of the greatest videogame developer on the planet," he hisses. "I'll make them understand." "I'll make the world see that it doesn't get any better than Urban Champion. On the 3DS, it will become the most popular portable game of all time." "Damn straight, son!" bubbles Miyamoto. "Angry Birds can suck Urban Champion's chin-chin [Japanese word for penis]." OK, maybe it didn't happen exactly like that, but there had to be some kind of non-logic-based Folie à deux at Nintendo for a game like this to be included in the 3D Classics line-up.  Have you ever talked to someone who hates fighting games? I sure have, and I'm usually quick to ask them why they don't enjoy the genre. Most often, they say something along the lines of "They're just stupid. One guy punches another guy until one of the two guys falls down and doesn't get back up. That's all. That's it. That's stupid." In the case of most fighting games, that bleak summation would be missing a lot of the fine details. When it comes to Urban Champion, it's one-hundred percent accurate. Urban Champion is a versus fighting game with a grand total of one selectable character, who comes equipped with two types of attacks (high and low). That attack comes in two flavors (weak/fast and strong/slow), giving you a total of four different attacks, spread across two glorious buttons. As for defensive options, you can block (high or low) and dodge. That's all you get in Urban Champion; no jumping, no ducking, and there sure as hell aren't any Hadoukens. It's sort of like Punch-Out!! turned on its side, except even more simplistic. There aren't even any health meters. The winner of each fight is determined by who can knock the other guy off the opposing side of the screen first. The combat plays out sort of like competitive rock/papers/scissors, except without the scissors. Rock (high punch) crushes paper (low guard) unless paper (low punch) hits rock (high guard) first, and vice versa. You could also say that Urban Champion is like that non-videogame game where you try to slap someone on the top of their hands before they can move them out of the way. It's game that wholly relies on reflexes and guessing games, rather than on dexterity or complex strategy. There are a couple of other random elements thrown into the game to keep things from getting totally repetitive. Disapproving neighbors will try to drop flowers pots on you and your combatant. If they score a hit, you'll be dazed, giving your enemy an opportunity for a free attack. The cops also come by every so often, breaking up the fight and causing the young, eager street toughs to head back to their respective sides of the block to avoid looking like criminals. That causes the fight to more or less start over from scratch, which can be a problem as you also have to watch your stamina and your time as the match goes on. If your stamina runs out, your punches will be much slower; if time runs out, whoever is closest to losing the fight will be hauled off by the cops. And that's really all there is to the game. Nintendo didn't add too much to the formula for this re-release. Of course, you get some glasses-free stereoscopic 3D. The game's world and characters are now made from polygons, though they stay completely faithful to the original game's low-res, sprite-based style. The 3D here looks really good, especially with the angled camera mode turned on. Seeing old NES games remade with new visual pop via the 3DS' glasses-free 3D display still hasn't gotten old for me. I just hope that in the near future, we see more deserving NES games -- games like Kung-Fu, the original Mario Bros., and the previously mentioned Punch-Out!! would be great for this 3D classics treatment. That's not to say I don't like Urban Champion. I know that I really should dislike it, as it is incredibly stupid, but I just can't help but enjoy it. The game asks so little of the player in terms of thought or effort, and is so quick to reward you for simple violence, that it's hard to not get back more than you put in. It reminds me a lot of one of the many addicting micro games from the WarioWare series, except stretched out into a full, standalone title. There are a couple of catchy little chip tunes to keep you smiling, some simple and charming little animations, and constant moments of anticipation to keep you playing. "Am I about to punch a man?", "Are the cops going to catch us being bad?", and most intensely, "Why am I still playing this?" are questions you'll be constantly asking yourself while playing the game. The action, as incredibly shallow and random as it may be, is still non-stop. Unlike in most real fighting games, there are no moments of breaks between "big moments." There's no waiting out a turtling opponent, no sense of deflation after failing to pull of a big combo, or feeling as though you are incredible outclassed by your enemy. There's also no bordom in being pitted against an opponent you can easily beat the crap out of. With Urban Champion, all you get is non-stop, stupid violence. The enemy A.I. in single player mode also ramps up considerably. I've only been able to get to round 61 (which took about an hour, and earned me the in-game achievement of "Village Champion"). By that point, I was really getting my ass kicked. A quick save feature allows for you to put the game down if you don't want to slog through that many rounds in one sitting. There is also local multiplayer, though I haven't been able to test that out, as I don't actually know anyone else in real life who is willing to purchase the game. I have played "competitive" Urban Champion on the NES plenty of times though, and assuming that this 3D port is faithful enough, I can wager that the Vs. mode is just as stupid and compelling as the single player "campaign." All in all, Urban Champion is almost an un-game. There is nearly no design here. I'm sure that most of you will hate it, but I know for a fact that few like-minded readers of Dtoid will enjoy it. In fact, I've already gotten a few private messages requesting that I fight them online. The game doesn't actually support online play, which shows just how weirdly enthusiastic fans of Urban Champion can be. This is an extremely acquired taste. Even fans of the game will likely admit that it is technically shallow and idiotic, almost to the point of self-parody. That said, if you have similar tastes as Miyamoto, Iwata, and myself, you'll find yourself enjoying Urban Champion much more than you rightfully should.
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A 3D update of Urban Champion? How did this happen? Here's how I think it went down... Nintendo President Satoru Iwata (the responsible one) heads over to the house of Nintendo creative mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto (...

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Twinbee coming to 3DS as a '3D Classic'


Aug 03
// Jim Sterling
Nintendo has revealed that Twinbee will become the next game after Urban Champion to get the "3D Classic" treatment on the 3DS. It's a top-down shooter that some of you might have even heard of.  Rather than alter the as...

Review: 3D Classics: Xevious

Jul 31 // Jonathan Holmes
3D Classics Xevious (3DS Virtual Console)Developer: Namco/ArikaPublisher: NintendoReleased: July 21, 2011MSRP: $5.99 This is going to going to be a quick one. Xevious is fun game that keeps from becoming too monotonous through a nice combination of difficulty and variety. A new type of enemy or combination of enemies is thrown at you every few seconds, so you never quite catch your balance. The game also has the tendency to suck you into a false sense of security which can lead to instant death. You'll be so busy focusing on bombing enemies on the ground that you may not be fully aware of the danger of bullets flying at you in the air, and vice versa. The playfield is fairly large, and most enemy attacks are relatively slow (especially compared to some of today's more difficult shmups), so it's easy to start overestimating your ability to stay alive. That confidence leads to more risk-taking, which leads to a more exciting experience. I'd guess that 90% of all the time , my death came as a total surprise. As any fan of Mega Man or Resident Evil will tell you, those kinds of sudden, unforeseeable deaths tend to be the most exciting. Speaking of the game's large playfield, Xevious and the 3DS feel like a match made in heaven -- the 3D here looks fantastic. Like I said in the opening paragraphs, this game is a perfect fit for 3D. At its core, Xevious is all about negotiating between the action going on in the distance, and the action taking place up close. It's hard to put into words exactly why this process is so much more exciting in 3D. Part of it is because in 3D, the simple, iconic graphics of Xevious feel real in a way that's wholly unexpected. I think that constantly switching focus between the background and the foreground also does a lot to force your brain to play a big part in it. Regardless of the reasons why, I can assure you that Xevious is a lot more fun in 3D. That said, this is still a 30-year-old game we're talking about, one that has not been upgraded in any way for this 3D port. There are no new modes, no online features, and no new gameplay enhancements. The only option available to players in the settings menu is the ability to adjust the level of 3D. That's something you can already do with the 3D slider on the 3DS hardware, but having the option to adjust the game's depth is still cool. If you turn the 3D all the way up on the 3DS, and all the way up in the game, it's so 3D that it might make your brain puke and explode. Puking and exploding is fine and all, but the fact that the game has no other new ingredients still feels like a lost opportunity. Nintendo and Arika spent all that time and money on creating this new version of Xevious, so they might as well have put in some new ideas while they were at it. Even something as simple as local multiplayer or new unlockable ships (preferably with the ability to barrel roll) would have gone a long way towards making this game easier to recommend. 3D Classics: Xevious might have met most gamers' standards ten years ago, but in the age of such incredible classic remakes as Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, Galaga Legions DX, and Space Invaders Infinity Gene, it's hard to be confident that fans wont be disappointed with this minimally enhanced port. Then again, I'm definitely not like "most gamers." I went into this game expecting some untouched, 30-year-old gameplay presented to me in 3D, and that's exactly what I got. If you go in expecting the same thing, or if you're a big fan of the "completely faithful recreations of 30-year-old shmups" genre, you're not likely to be disappointed. If you're looking for something more than that, you'll have to take your money elsewhere.
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To many, the name 3D Classics: Xevious is itself an oxymoron. Space Invaders, Galaga, Defender, and Gradius are considered by most as shoot 'em up classics. However, Xevious never quite reached that level of prestige, at leas...


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