2-Dimensions, 3-Times the Fun

If 3D is so awesome, why do 2D games still exist?

By Matthew Tidman. Posted 06/11/2010 10:21 3 Comments     ShareThis

Super Paper Mario Art

Ok, the 2D game is a dying art form. We get some impressive looking titles still, sure. Muramasa: The Demon Blade alone was enough to turn heads this generation and many indie darlings– including Cave Story— have fully embraced the 2D medium to deliver outstanding content to a new generation of gamers. Yet many gamers who grew up on PlayStation and N64 refuse to experience anything if it’s not in that glorious third dimension. This is a fallacy.

It might be easy to look at the polygon-pushing power of today’s console and think that 2D has no place in gaming. I mean, would the Metroid Prime Trilogy have been as good as it was if it had transitioned back to 2D, as its predecessors did? Has anyone longed for Zelda to return to the world of two dimensions? Yet for all their charms, I dare to say that the games could have been great, possibly even more fun in two dimensions. And sales numbers agree with this statement.

New Super Mario Bros Wii Screenshot

Look at New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a new Mario game that, instead of pumping out the 3D models takes a simpler graphical approach. You would think that it would have sold worse than Super Mario Galaxy, another excellent Mario game that came out on the same system, but was rendered in the third dimension. But sales number have shown that Super Mario Galaxy actually sold more poorly than it’s 2-D brother. I mean, Galaxy sold well enough, but the sales of New Super Mario Bros. Wii are higher by an order of magnitude.

Of course, you could say that this is because Nintendo marketed the title to the casual crowd. You might even be right about that, but it’s not just marketing that made New Super Mario Bros. Wii sell well. Playing in two dimensions is actually easier for many than playing in 3D. Oh, you’ll hear people talking about how immersive 3D is, but it also has many headaches associated with it. We’ve come a long way when it comes to 3D gaming, there are still some serious problems with it.

Cave Story Screenshot

For example, there has never been a perfect camera system in a 3D game. Oh, some games have come very close, but look to games like Monster Hunter Tri and you’ll see that these problems still exist. On the other hand, I defy you to find a 2D game with camera problems. There just isn’t one. Another example is more recent. Have you been playing a 3D game and begun to feel sick? Games as diverse as Mirror’s EdgeSuper Mario Galaxy and The Conduit have had gamers complaining of queasiness, and not from the quality of the game. The immersion offered by the third dimension actually messes with some gamers’ equilibrium making what should be a fun experience into a constant struggle with their stomach. Again, to my knowledge this isn’t a problem with 2D games– well, unless you’re playing a Game Boy in a car while riding a windy road.

Whether you agree with me or disagree the fact remains that while in decline, 2D games are fun enough to compel companies to keep making them. I dare to say that 2D games are more fun than their 3D brethren. If they weren’t why would they still exist? If you’re in that camp who declares 2D dead without trying it, I implore you to give it a chance. Who knows, you may agree with me after giving a 2D game a whirl.

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