Posted by: elbobo | August 6, 2012

2D or Not 2D, that is the question.

2D that is where all gaming started (I know weired right) and since it’s humble beginningwe as gamers have seen 2D games start to dwindle over the years, but does this mean 2D is a dying breed? Let’s have a look.

My earliest memory of 2D gaming is Pong.

Pong was a basic game at heart and it was my 1st foray into the world of gaming and since then I have never left. Next up came Mario on the NES.

The plumbers 1st journey into the Mushroom Kingdom was a great experience and one that nearly every gamer will have tried at some point and since then Mario has gone from 2D to 3D in full force, even the side scrolling Wii version has 3D models in it meaning the gameplay is there but the graphics feel slightly odd, nice but odd.

The above shift in 2D to 3D is my main gripe here, whilst old 2D games have been updated to 3D, does this shift really make games better?

Lets start with platformaers since that is what Mario is.

Personally I feel the new Mario games are great games, that much is true, but this shift to psuedo 3D is a little jarring to me. Yes it is nice but it loses part of it natural charm, the game is just a game and it has lost it sense of art.

Another platformer from days gone by is Rayman.

The original Rayman (Yes @Philthy I know Rayman is a poor man’s Plok) game was a really tough and great 2d platformer with an art style all of it’s own. Then it went 3D, these 3D games where hell too me, all my memories of the great 2D art where shattered and I just personlly could not play them for long, yes it retained the characters but that sense of art was lost slightly.

Then finally a year or 2 ago Ubisoft release Rayman Origins and we saw a glorious return to form for this once crazy franchise.

All the Crazy was back and the new updated 2D art allowed the game to be both fast paced and really really beautiful. I fell in love with the franchise all over again and my fears of the death of 2D were once again destroyed.

Next lets take a quick look at fighting games. For me Street Fighter 2 was my 1st time in the fighting genre.

Since it’s original games SF has been though many versions with a lot of them being in the 2D camp of gaming, we even saw SF2 get a HD remake for digital distribution.

But then we saw a shift from Capcom into the inevitable 3D forum.

Now SF4 is a great game, really showing 3D fighters how it is done, with plenty of character and some really georgeous graphics we have one of the staples of modern fighters. In this post though I am looking at the evolution of the 2D genre, so what game would show 2D fighting at it’s best? Why BlazBlue of course.

Blazblue is the modern evolution of the 2D fighter. Much like Rayman we see just how beautiful and artistic a 2D game can be, characters are beautifully hand crafted and each frame has to be created pretty much hand drawn rather than animated in a 3D space. The attention to details really increase the art style showing true commitment to the genre.

Even the action genre of games can learn a few thing’s from the 2D genre.

Take the game No More Heroes as an example.

NMH is a great example of style in a 3D game, but because the game is 3D we get issues like textures not loading and frame rate stutters (although low). These sort of issues in a 3D game are very annoying and can pull you out of the experience.

Now a great example of action done right is from the fine guys at Vanillaware.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a fine example of 2D action games, in any one scene we can have well over 5 Layers of 2D art mingled together to create a scene of real beauty and danger. Due to the 2D nature of the game the action moves a lot faster and some of the animation is just drop dead gorgeous and the flow of the game is never broken by load times, pop in or frame rate stutters.

Now what I wrote above may seem like I am condemning 3D games but I am not, I have many 3D games in my collection, too many at times. What I am pointing out is that not all games have to go 3D to move in to the HD generation, in fact some games are ruined by the addition of that extra dimension, in both style and gameplay. I find it truely amazing at how 2D has evolved to survive into the HD era of gaming. There are times I wonder what a new Mario done in a new HD 2D art style would look like? it could be awesome if that ever happened.

I think overall what I am trying to get at is that 2D is not necessarily a devolution of a game, sometimes it can be a a real swan song for a series that may have taken a wrong turn.

It all comes down to a matter of taste, in these sort of issues and for me the art of a well crafted 2D game can trump the art of a 3D game any day. What do you guys think? 2D or not 2D? that is the question.

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