Time was, nearly every game was 2D. Side-scrolling or top-down view, the vast majority of games from the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s depicted a two-dimensional play area. But since the proliferation of 3D games, 2D has become a dirty word. Why?
Over on his Gamespite blog, 1Up editor and staunch 2D-ophile Jeremy Parish despairs, when discussing the new Wii version of A Boy and His Blob, at the relegation of 2D games to the domain of the download-only or retro throwback. He writes:
The pervasive mindset that downloadable games are somehow less worthwhile than retail games. In truth, the ratio of cream vs. crap is about the same regardless of medium — most things are terrible, and the relatively rare good stuff is worth celebrating no matter what form it takes — so that’s a meaningless dichotomy to begin with. But it becomes even more irritating when you consider the aforementioned collective dismissal of 2D graphics and apply the logical transitive conclusion to these assumptions: that is, 2D games should be downloads; downloadable-only games are worthless; ergo, 2D games are worthless. This is not acceptable.
Allegedly – and this may be an apocryphal tale – during the PlayStation 2 era, Sony actively discouraged the release of 2D games in the fear such antiquated graphics technology would reflect poorly on the capabilities of their hardware. It’s not hard to imagine Microsoft thinking along the same lines with the original Xbox. Does the same mindset pervade the gaming community as well?
I’ve written before about the psychological barrier when it comes to downloadable games pricing and perhaps it’s also true of 2D games. The question remains: why?
Many of this medium’s finest experiences were crafted in 2D; from Pac-man to Super Mario Bros. to Street Fighter II. Why do we perceive modern 2D games as somehow less valuable than their 3D cousins?
I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
2D: Crisis of confidence [Gamespite]