SEGA announced today (via Weekly Famitsu) that it will bring its long-running 3D Classics series for Nintendo 3DS to a conclusion with a final retail release.
The 3D Classics lineup, of course, has seen powerhouse retro development studio M2 dig through the late ’80s/early ’90s arcade and Genesis catalog of SEGA games to reproduce both smash hits and forgotten obscurities with loving fidelity. We've had nothing but good to say about these efforts—even when the games in question turn out to be total washouts (e.g. Altered Beast), M2 always lavishes those duds with a degree of love and care unseen in any other official classics reissue anywhere. 3D Classics set a high bar for historical reproductions that no other publisher even cares to imitate.
This will be the third retail compilation of the 3D Classics series for Japan, which initially appeared as individual eShop releases. America only received the second volume, presumably because the first consisted entirely of titles that had already been published a la carte. The third volume, like the second, will contain a mix: Five previously published titles and five new productions. And this, presumably, will be the final entry in the 3D Classics series. (It seems a safe bet, what with the 3DS arriving at the threshold of its retirement years and the fact that the subtitle for the new compilation is "FINAL STAGE.")
Famitsu's article didn't include a list of the new titles to appear in FINAL STAGE, though they did mention four games that have ranked highly in fan polls: Wing War, Gain Ground, Outrunners, and Virtua Racing. That's no guarantee these games will appear in the new compilation, but we can likely expect a few of them to show up. The possibility of Virtua Racing introduces the prospect of companion title Virtua Fighter... and the inclusion of obscure Out Run sequel Outrunners brings to mind obscure Space Harrier sequel Planet Harriers, which like Outrunners has never been properly given a home release (though its Dreamcast-level technology puts it out of the running for a 3DS port). In any case, the speculation has already begun on forums, and developer M2 has yet to disappoint.
As for known quantities, the compiled releases in FINAL STAGE will include the five eShop titles not yet collected into the previous retail omnibuses:
These titles will appear along with the five new as-of-yet-unannounced mystery titles. All in all, it looks to be a fine capstone to one of the greatest highlights of the 3DS's excellent library. Hopefully M2 and SEGA will continue its holy mission of preservation and restoration on NX or some other platform down the road. More importantly, let's hope SEGA picks up this final collection for U.S. release. We've come this far, and it would be a shame to miss out on the final chapter.