Gateway to a second dimension

My last post got me thinking: this has been a pretty excellent year for fans of the Second Dimension. In addition to finally getting our hands on a comprehensible version of the aforementioned Mother 3, we’ve had a surprisingly decent amount of 2D (and semi-2D) releases for a time when even our handhelds are doing 3D.

First up is the “Good lord, that’s beautiful!” category, lead by Wario Land: Shake It! Have you seen that thing? Regardless of whether or not it’s worth more than a rental, it is certainly gorgeous to look at (but I guess hiring an animation studio to work with you will do that). In the same vein, we finally got a glimpse at Muramasa: The Demon Blade, another piece of 2D eye candy from the folks that brought us the stunning Odin Sphere. If your jaw isn’t on the floor, you’re probably at the wrong website, pal.

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Next up is the “I’m technically 3D, but I play like a 2D game anyway” category. While fudging the definition just a little, these games serve as a nice reminder that there are major developers out there that believe in 2D as much as we do. LittleBigPlanet is easily the highest-profile game on this list, but notable entries like Bionic Commando Rearmed and the Klonoa remake for Wii might technically make this the most well-liked category of the bunch.

Lastly, we have the “miscellaneous remakes/revivals/sequels/reimaginings” category, which is so hefty I’m not even going to bother trying to remember everything that came out here. Everything from Space Invaders Extreme and Cave Story on Wii to Chrono Trigger on DS and exciting news about Retro Game Challenge can be stuffed into this category.

Yes, 2D is alive and kicking, and I’m finally comfortable saying that its fans won’t have to worry about those shiny new 3D games killing the format we love so dearly. Maybe it’s digital distribution, maybe it’s rising development costs, maybe it’s simply publishers finally realizing there’s a huge market there; but it’s nice to see the industry has expanded to try and cater to this particular dimension as well as the next. And if you don’t believe me, well, just look at how well-received the biggest 2D game this year has been.

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6 thoughts on “Gateway to a second dimension

  1. Mega Man don’t dance; he just pulls up his pants and does the rock-away.

    Lean back, lean back, lean back…

  2. 2D may no longer be in danger of going extinct, but it still has ways to go before it’s on equal footing with 3D as a stylistic choice. At least it now looks more like a matter of time than a crazy dream, though.

  3. It seems to me that designing a new “Secret of Mana” wouldn’t really cost that much, but would be for many a wet dream. I’d prefer a great SNES era multiplayer RPG (even turn based) to any of the massively budgeted games I’ve played this year. Frankly, I just don’t have the energy at the end of the day to deal with a second “real world.”

    So, here’s a question (if anyone in the know is listening): Is it at all profitable to design new “old” games? Do developers not do this because they’ve determined it isn’t, or because they fetishize new technology?

  4. A new Mana worth playing is impossible, because series creator Kouichi Ishii simply doesn’t understand what people like about the older games.

  5. You missed Street Fighter IV and the HD Street Fighter II that should both be on consoles this year. The new and revised King of Fighters games are also a good bellwether for 2-D fighters. These stalwart franchises, part of the video game industry that has remained 2-D longer than most, are modifying their approaches by offering old and new games. Meanwhile, Capcom vs. Tatsuniko is a sign that the industry can create name experiences within the 2-D fighting game genre.

    @Newfish: I am certainly not in the know, but I think it depends on expectations. In terms of graphics, people often have the perception that the lack of a third dimension means a lack of exploration within the game’s parameters and, perhaps, a lack of imagination on the part of the game designers. Also, given that 3-D games have been the norm for so long, it feels like a step backwards to people who have never held a controller without an analog stick.

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