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2D or Not 2D?


While many bemoan the Xbox Live Arcade and to a lesser
extent, the Playstation store, for its lack of diversity and digital rights
management (DRM) issues, few explore the positive influence digital downloads have
had on console gaming.

Sure, some have stated that the Live Arcade has killed the
compilation disk. Gone are the bountiful treasure chests of retro gaming-
Midway Arcade Classics, Activision Anthology, Sega Genesis Collection and the
Taito Legends
series. It is no longer economically feasible to sell a twenty
dollar collection of a dozen or so titles, when the going rate for a single retro
title hovers around six to eight dollars. With the exception of a few Neo
Geo-themed collections for the PS2 and PSP, no new compilations exist on the
horizon.


Perhaps some have forgotten why these disks brought us so
much joy in the first place. If rumors are to be believed, SCEA from the launch
of the PS1 to the heyday of the PS2, made it quite hard for publishers to release
2D games. Perhaps, that is why the Americans
never saw the release of Gunner’s Heaven, a Metal Slug-like scroller made by
Treasure. Notwithstanding, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Street
Fighter II
series, there was a long period where two dimension games were relatively
rare.


Today, we are seeing a resurgence in the popularity of the
2D game, thanks to the influence of the Xbox Live Arcade. While developer Capcom
is making a 3D update to the Bionic Commando series, most message boards are
abuzz with talk of the upcoming 2D remake of the original NES game, Bionic
Commando: Rearmed
.


When the 360 was first released, Geometry Wars: Evolved
reminded us of the power of the 2D game; we didn’t have to ‘think’ about a
complex control scheme. Absent was the need to move the ‘camera’; a current staple
in many three dimensional games. While the original Xbox saw the release of two
3D Worms titles; the aptly named Worms 3D and Worms: Forts Under Siege, the
franchise didn’t see success until Worms returned to 2D on the Live Arcade.
Clearly there is a market for 2D games.


Currently, the PS2 is seeing a surge in the amount of 2D
games; recently, critical favorites Odin Sphere, Grim Grimoire and Pinball Hall
of Fame: The Williams Collection
were released. Upcoming are the aforementioned
Neo Geo compilation, SNK Arcade Classic Vol. 1, Heavenly Guardian, 2D fighter
Arcane Heart, and World Heroes and Final Fight
Anthologies.

On the Live Arcade, Capcom is remaking 1942, it’s
WWII-themed shmup, and Super Street Fighter II Turbo Remix HD. While PS3 fans can
expect Soldner-X, a 2D shmup and more offerings from the Pixel Junk team.


Some may argue that the 2D market is relatively niche; but
with the huge install base of PS2 owners, and growing population of current-gen
console owners, publishers like SNK and Capcom don’t have to sell a million
copies for profitability. As budgets for 3D games are getting increasingly
large, 2D games may be an increasingly viable model. As the industry moves
toward casual games (with simple, intuitive control schemes) and digital distribution
(with relatively small file size), we expect to see a rebirth of 2D.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

11 comments

  1. Amen, brothers. I love me some 2d games; you’re right, you don’t have to think about the control, you can just get lost in the game in a trance-like way.

  2. I just can’t get into the 2D stuff; I’ve had people tell me how good the Castlevania is; I played it and got bored. I guess Im used to 3D and all the action there.

    Play 2D GTA and then play 3D GTA…

  3. Is that a animal real skull?!? I know you photoshopped it, but I mean is there an animal with a pac-man shaped skull?

  4. I hope they never stop making 2D games. Every one in a while I fell the need to play some for 2-3 hours.

  5. Cool article, but most live arcade games suck. How many Bejeweled clones can they put up there?

  6. I bought a PS2 just to play Odin Sphere; I don’t regret it, as they are a number of SRPGS worth playing (Disgaea, etc)

  7. Man, that pic is so great; Nice work.

  8. Viva 2D, Long Live 2D. Loved the article, almost as much as I like 2d games, you should DIGG it.

  9. Sprites>Polygons. ‘Nuff said!

  10. Funny you guys mention Pinhall: Hall of Fame. I’ve been playing the hell out of it. Although is it 2D or 3D in nature?

  11. Great article, I love the old skool games. Great to see their are coming back in full force.