While not technically Virtual Console games, the 3D Classics series is close enough in spirit that it deserves to be counted in this roundup. Unlike Virtual Console, 3D Classics encompass a number of different platforms — SEGA Genesis, arcade, NES, and even Master System — and more importantly, they've been reprogrammed to show off the system's 3D visual capabilities.
This side-view motocross racer doesn't really benefit from the 3D visual upgrade, but it's a fun, addictive experience no matter how you play it... although the truly definitive version is on Wii U, if you own both systems.
Fantasy Zone II W
Back in the day, Fantasy Zone II only came out for Master System; in converting the game to 3D, developer M2 reworked it to play on the first game's arcade hardware. So technically, this is an all-new game. The important thing, though, is that it's loads of fun.
A glorious highlight of the SEGA Genesis, Gunstar Heroes pushed that hardware to its absolute limits. This 3D reworking keeps all the original content intact while adding an impressive visual effect to the action — a masterpiece.
The original Kid Icarus on NES was kind of a hard sell, but developer Arika did more than simply add 3D visuals and backgrounds to this conversion — they made a subtle tweak to the jumping physics that makes the game far more playable. The definitive version of the game.
One of the high points of the NES library is every bit as wonderful on 3DS, with or without the added visual effects.
This classic racing game helped introduce "super scaler" graphics to the world, and the loving overhaul it received on 3DS allows its high-speed visuals to truly pop. But really, it's worth it for the music alone.
Sonic the Hedgehog
SEGA never really managed to improve on the first two Sonic games, and this enhanced portable conversion remains just as playable now as it was 25 years ago. Actually, maybe more so, thanks to the anachronistic inclusion of the spin-dash....
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Likewise Sonic 2, which retains its two-player action here and still manages, somehow, to render split-screen action with 3D effects. The usual passel of tweaks are present here, including an easy mode.
It's shallow, sure, but this version converts the faux-3D of the arcade shooter into actual 3D and in doing so breathes new life into the game.
Streets of Rage 2
SEGA fans will forever rage in debate over which Streets of Rage was better, the first or second. For our money, the second is the more playable and entertaining of the two, with cooler levels and better controls.
After Burner II
While it really pops in 3D, the second After Burner lacks the substance and depth to be worth more than a brief diversion for a few minutes.
Ecco the Dolphin
All due respect to the hippies, but Ecco the Dolphin is a neat idea (control a dolphin saving the world!) bogged down by some really hateful level design and complicated controls. Neat, and worth a look, but weirdly brutal considering its New Age leanings.
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
This wild ninja-themed action game is definitely the most unconventional entry in the Shinobi series, but play this only as you cross your fingers and hope for a 3D version of Revenge of Shinobi.
Streets of Rage
A classic brawler with a brilliant soundtrack, Streets of Rage is absolutely worth a play (especially in this refined 3D conversion)... but if you can only afford one, go with the sequel.
Konami had a few different shoot-em-up series back in the day, and while it was amusing, TwinBee never quite hit the same height as Gradius or Parodius.
Save Your Cash
A boring arcade brawler became a boring Genesis pack-in which then became a boring 3D Classics release. Avoid.
Of all of SEGA's "super scaler" games, Thunder Blade had the least to offer. Whizzy 3D effects can't save this dud.