2D: New Super Mario Bros. and case of the extra half-dimension

So, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is pretty good. I’m sure the 1UP score will skew high compared to a lot of other reviews, but bear in mind that I reviewed it based on what it does as opposed to some fevered vision of what I think it should do. It’s designed to be a universally accessible and enjoyable game, and NSMB Wii passed the Fiancée Test, which made the difference between a great score and a top score. (You can hear about said test on today’s 1UP podcast, whenever that goes online; I’m too medication-addled to type it all out right now.)

I will admit there is a tiny part of me that wishes NSMB Wii had been done up in a fully retro style with 16-bit graphics. There’s really nothing about the game that couldn’t have been done with the Super NES… well, OK, the level zooming during multiplayer might have required a Neo-Geo. But still, NSMB Wii sticks closely to the tenets of classic 2D gaming, and it’s wonderful for that… but there is a little charm lost with the use of polygons.

Not too much charm, fortunately. Look at those adorable Toads with their precious little propeller caps. Awwww.

Anyway, going with a hand-drawn style would have been a deathblow for the game. Americans hate hand-drawn art to death. It’s probably no coincidence that Disney is releasing its first traditionally animated feature in something like six years (The Princess and the Frog) while hedging its bets with a horrible-looking CG vehicle for Jim Carrey to desecrate all you hold dear about Charles Dickens. Care to guess which will claim the bigger box office take?

But beyond the sheer economics of the thing, Nintendo’s smart to go with the 2.5D style regardless, because it’s easier for the casual gaming audience to deal with. A while back, Tomm Hulett (hi Tomm!) posted a comment on the site that suggested 3D games are more visually intuitive for casual gamers — which is true, to a degree. The visual depth and dimension perspective offered by polygons more closely mimic how we actually see the world and require less interpretation than a two-dimensional abstraction.

However, 3D gaming — which is to say, specifically, the navigation of 3D space — is not intuitive. On the contrary, it requires training and practice to master. As a point of fact, Mario games offered a perfect opportunity to train in 3D with the opening areas of Super Mario 64: The open field outside the castle and Lakitu-as-point-of-view conceit were deliberately positioned as an introduction to dealing with the realities of 3D space. Of course, that was 13 years ago, and not everyone buying games now — especially the gaming novitiates Nintendo prizes — has played Mario 64.

So, Nintendo can cram a tutorial into the beginning of every game it makes and bore their most loyal fans to tears… or they can simply pretend to create 3D spaces by offering the appearance of depth while sticking to the far more intuitive left-to-right progression of old-fashioned 2D. Fake 3D may look more natural, but once you begin trying to judge relative positions depth on what is ultimately a flat, mathematical representation of space, things suddenly become trickier. But moving along a line, with obviously-placed obstacles and objectives? No sweat. Anyone can handle that.

So, 2.5D may look kinda ugly, and it may not make for games as elegant as those with properly hand-drawn graphics, but if you’re shooting for the masses it’s definitely the way to go. And NSMB Wii is shooting for the masses in the best possible way, so I suppose this all represents progress, of a kind.

54 thoughts on “2D: New Super Mario Bros. and case of the extra half-dimension

  1. Desecrate all I hold dear about Dickens indeed; having read A Tale of Two Cities and Hard Times, I’m becoming convinced that A Christmas Carol must be the only good thing the man ever wrote*. For some reason I just can’t enjoy his style.

    I’ll, uh, stop digressing here.

    *Good, here, meaning “something dtsund likes”, rather than some objective measure.

  2. I think you’re wrong. The masses have no problem with hand drawn 2D. Super Mario Brothers were a big hit with the masses and it was sprited. “Casual gamers” don’t need their games to be visually intuitive. I think a lot of “casual gamers” are simply lapsed gamers from the generations were games used twitch reflexes.

    Being hand-drawn would not be a deathblow to the game it would just make it more expensive to make. If Nintendo made a New Super Mario Bros. Wii hand drawn sprites with Wario Land: Shake It I bet the game would do even better on with the masses.

  3. Yeah, it was pretty daring of Nintendo to make Super Mario Bros. a sprite-based game back in the dazzling 3D polygonal era of 1986!

  4. Well, yes, but Super Mario Brothers was hand-drawn in an era when that was all there was. You can’t use that to argue that modern games will do well when hand-drawn.

    And he was also arguing that he’d like it more with 16-bit graphics (heck, I’d probably prefer it that way myself), which would almost certainly not have been more expensive to make (as opposed to, say, 2D on an Odin Sphere/Muramasa level).

  5. The masses love hand-drawn sprites when it’s in a $5 or $10 downloadable game. (Not that they know how to download them, but if the game is already on my Wii they’ll love it to death.) But most people seem to have a problem paying $50 for these games–sprites somehow make the game seem less-than-worthy of a full price, retail game.

  6. Good post and a great review. The list of Wii games I want just keeps growing: this, Punch-Out!!, A Boy and His Blob, Muramasa. Once I”m out of November, I’ll pick at least one of them up.

    I’ve also heard pretty good things about the new Christmas Carol. Crazy, I know.

  7. Disregarding the 2Dvs. 3D argument, I think the game’s so-called 2.5d looks just fine. Seems like a pretty natural evolution of the 2D platformer.

    That’s not to say the concept can totally fail when you have crappy controls, poor collision detection, and multiple planes (see: LittleBigPlanet). But Mario can get away with it, I think.

    Nice 1UP review, by the way.

  8. The masses excepted sprited 2D then so you can’t say that they’d feel more comfortable with 2.5D. Daring or not the masses excepted it.

    Who decided that all games have to use polygons now? I didn’t and I don’t remember hearing about any mass boycotts on video game company’s still using sprites. I have never seen any conclusive proof that polygon game do better than sprited games in retail.

    The people saying that all full priced games have to have polygons now sound like the same people who kept saying that all full priced games have to be 3D.

  9. I think if it were executed the right way, a hand-drawn 2D Mario game – not just a 8-bit/16-bit sprite-based game – would blow peoples’ minds. I’m not talking A Boy and His Blob-style “Let’s just take a few drawn sprites and incongruously matte them on top of some polygonal backgrounds” game, but something that hums and sings with nothing BUT hand-drawn animation.

    Shit, it would at last give the smaller non-flash based animation studios out there some much-needed work, too. Man. MAN.

  10. I consider the friggin’ enormous sells of NSMB on DS, and the pitiful sells of every major sprite based 2d game released to be pretty damned conclusive.

    Also: Accepted.

  11. liquidninja, do you really not understand the difference between what was considered an acceptable standard 25 years ago versus what works now? Do you honestly think Nintendo could release a $50 game that looks like the original Super Mario and still have a multimillion seller? Honestly?

  12. parish
    I’m not saying they should make a game looks like their 20+ year old predecessors. (though that might work under certain conditions)

    If they made a hand drawn Super Mario Brothers game with the same detail as Wario Land: Shake it, I bet it would be a multi-million seller.

    I bet if Nintendo released a both hand drawn New Super Mario Bros. Wii (with the detail of Wario Land: Shake it or better) and a polygon rendered New Super Mario Bros. Wii (the one they’re releasing now) at the same price I bet the hand drawn version would be the most sold version.

  13. I find Super Mario World and A Link to the Past’s overly-restrained eight-color sprites are short on the charm of 8-bit graphics, squander the power of the SNES, and of course pale before the beauty of PlayStation-era 2D. I’d kill for the 32-bit (or 64, as it might be) 2D Mario we never got.

    Re: Mudron: Eh? A Boy and His Blob doesn’t have polygonal backgrounds.

  14. Surely if anything could prove that 2D animation is still alive and kicking, it would be a blowout Mario game. Do American consumers really have a distaste for hand-drawn animation or do media companies simply believe so? Disney walked away from 2D movies after they started tanking, yes, but to be fair they were in a rut while Pixar movies were genuinely superior regardless of their 3D-ness.

  15. There were a lot of really strong traditionally-animated films released in the 10 years prior to Disney’s departure from the format, and they all foundered. Meanwhile, movies like Shrek and Ice Age and Madagascar have been huge blockbuster successes despite their lack of merit. American audiences are genuinely turned off by traditional art. I don’t understand it, and I don’t like it, but I know it’s a fact.

  16. The game night clip embedded in the review is hilarious. A reader asks, “Are there any fire and ice stages.” Parish then says, “No, I think they kept a better division between church and state.” He then proceeds to acquire an ice flower, freeze an enemy with an ice ball, and throw it at a flame to kill it. Nobody comments.

  17. Re Nomali: I always thought that Super Mario World had very nice graphics, in a minimalist sort of way. Later SNES games like Yoshi’s Island certainly look better, but I think that it has just as much charm as the NES games. (A 32-bit 2D Mario game would definitely be great though!)

    I’m still happy with what we got in this game, of course- it looks great!

  18. I know it’s anecdotal evidence, but going out in the world during and after college and meeting all kinds of people, I can say that yes, the general masses prefer 3D…even if most of them aren’t aware of it or don’t know how to articulate it.

  19. parish, the notion that Americans are turned off by hand-drawn art is simply ridiculous.

    I don’t believe for a minute that those really strong films foundered because they were traditionally animated. Classic Disney movies are still purchased today. They haven’t stopped selling suddenly because we have Shrek or Toy Story now.

    Disney hasn’t made a movie the likes of Aladdin, Beauty And the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Pocahontas etc. in a long long time. Most the their later efforts pale in comparison; I don’t think hand-drawn art is to blame there.

  20. (at the time Tomm Hulett made the mentioned comment, he was working on Rocket Knight, incidentally)

    liquidninja – your original post is wrong. You said “2d art was fine for the masses back in 1986”. Here’s the thing: THOSE WEREN’T THE MASSES. They were kids and it’s the only way games came. The number of potential game consumers now is EXPONENTIALLY higher than it was back then. There are far MORE people buying games – millions and millions more. So “it was fine for gamers back then” is a completely irrelevant statement. We aren’t talking about gamers back then. Moreover, I would argue that if Mario 3 and NSMB Wii came out at the same time, NSMB Wii would still sell more.

    (note: *I* prefer hand-drawn. Most people on this site do, that’s a fact. We are not the world, despite what the song tells you)

  21. parish, I will keep believing what I believe until facts prove otherwise.

    Tomm, more than just kids played with the NES back then. Now adults weren’t targeted with the NES but they still played.

    I doubt the number of potential consumers has changed that much in all these years. Last gen, game consoles had about 32% household penetration; Can you guess the household penetration for the 8/16-bit gens? If you said 32% you are correct.

    It’s easy to say that a new game would outsell a re-release, they do all the time. But if we had a side by side release of “New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Hand-Drawn Edition” and “New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Polygon Edition” would you be so sure?

    *keep in mind the hand-drawn edition would have the same detail as Wario Land: Shake it*

  22. Yeah, you’re right – the backgrounds in A Boy and His Blob weren’t polygonal, but the difference in framerate between the legitimately hand-drawn sprites and the too-slick-in-comparison Flash-animation-style backgrounds was still weirdly jarring.

    It bums me out that now we finally have consoles capable of producing games with Disney/Ghibli-quality full motion animation (and not just with the player sprites, but with EVERYTHING on screen), both 2D console gaming and hand-drawn animation have largely gone the way of the dodo.

    Wishing for more hand-drawn 2D games is like praying for someone to finally invent an hot-air balloon fueled by absinthe and piloted by a clone of Oscar Wilde. Sure, it could be done, but who would want it now? Bah.

  23. I was going to argue that people don’t inherently dislike 2D, but then I remembered how people thought I was crazy when I said FF7 looked terrible compared to FF6 when it came out. Yeah, people are stupid for polygons, what can you do?

  24. liquid–you are arguing for what you WANT to be true. Wanting does not make it reality, sadly, or we’d all be playing an HD, hand-drawn, 60fps animation SotN style Castlevania (except me and Kishi, who would be playing a balls hard level-based Castlevania with branching paths like Rondo but character swapping like C3).

    But reality is reality. When “the masses” saw Contra 4 their reaction was “that looks like an NES game”

    PROtip: Contra4 looks miles better than any NES game. Contra 4 is a 32-bit platformer. That’s 4 times as many bits!

    “2D” means “NES” to everyone but us. EVERYONE.

  25. Tomm, You are just arguing for what you ASSUME to be true. Assuming does not make it reality…

    There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that people prefer polygons over hand-drawn. At least no one has shown me any such evidence.

  26. It’s called sales data champ, and every major company in both the film and videogame worlds have seen it and have all decided that 3D is the way to go. Or maybe it’s just a big conspiracy.

  27. I think it’s important to distinguish between the intuitive nature of 3D vs. 2D and the aesthetic choice for the same. I’m not convinced people find a 3D game intuitive; on the contrary 2D control is surely more intuitive. The real issue is what the average consumer thinks about 2D vs 3D graphics – 2D is “what my older brother used to play” and 3D is “modern”, a point to which Tomm is alluding. That’s all this boils down to – 2D is old-school and 3D is current. I think this line of reasoning is as equally applicable to Disney movies as it is to games.

    Yeah, that sucks.

    >if we had a side by side release of “New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Hand-Drawn Edition” and “New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Polygon Edition” would you be so sure?

    >There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that people prefer polygons over hand-drawn.
    Good luck getting the public to pay $60 or £40 or whatever for a 2D game, regardless. Games that use a 3D mode of representation and control but a 2D-esque or “odd” visual aesthetic have a hard enough time as it is – Okami, Mad World, etc. Even the much-touted Little Big Planet didn’t garner good sales given the marketing expenditure and general awareness of product. There are 2D hand-drawn games still made for major consoles, and they sell to a niche crowd in small numbers. These are your hard facts, liquidninja, as if the sales of polygonally-rendered games vs. the sales of hand-drawn games weren’t indicative enough. I will join you in wishing they weren’t true.

  28. liquidninja, you’re in denial. It’s a cold fact of life, and trust me, all these people arguing with you – they wish you were right.

    Another (maybe small) factor is just general trends. People nowadays like their games full of grays and browns. Who wants a hand-drawn game full of grays and browns? I don’t. Blame it on the kids.

    But here’s a strange anomaly: Odin Sphere sold enough (in the dying days of its system, no less) to become a Greatest Hits title. That warms my heart, a little.

  29. “(except me and Kishi, who would be playing a balls hard level-based Castlevania with branching paths like Rondo but character swapping like C3).”

    And me! I’d kill for a new CV along those lines.

    @liquidninja, Tomm’s speaking from direct experience.

    Personally I would’ve liked to see them be able to pull off something along the lines of the PC version of SF4 with hand-drawn visuals as an option.

  30. You know, there is no 100% definite evidence that gravity will continue to work the same way tomorrow as it did today, either.

  31. cartman414, I just want to see actual evidence that prove with out a doubt that people prefer polygons over hand-drawn art. There is no survey, poll, sales, or any other data that proves people prefer polygon over hand-drawn art. Now that’s a cold hard fact.

    We know video game publishers and movie producers love polygon because they’re cheaper. But what a publisher wants to put out isn’t alway what customers want to buy.

    The only way I can think of to observe peoples preference is to have several separate cases where games where released in both polygon form and hand-drawn form simultaneously at the same price. I know no one has ever done this so there can be no sales data to prove any claim of preference in this aspect of games.

    Tomm, if you made game that sold poorly that was hand-drawn why not re-release it using polygons? I mean doesn’t polygons make everything better?

  32. I don’t think polygons are incapable of charm. The issue is that the art-style Nintendo has chosen for the Mario series ever since Super Mario 64 is EXTREMELY utilitarian. It doesn’t leave much room for charm or personality. The issue lies more with Nintendo’s chosen direction for the series than with 3D. Some of the side games (like Paper Mario) have been less beholden to that art style so they’ve suffered less.

    That said there are benefits to being utilitarian. For example it’s always perfectly clear where you have to go and what your options are when you play NSMB Wii, even when you’re booking through the level at top speed. But I have to admit I preferred the art style of Yoshi’s Island.

    Still I think if you look at Nintendo games like Wind Waker or Mario Galaxy or even Twilight Princess you can see that polygons are perfectly capable of rich, vibrant, expressive art styles. I don’t think there’s any reason to go back to 2D for NSMB Wii (except out of misguided nostalgia) and I also think you’re selling the benefits of the 3D short. What about the lighting? What about the rotating elements of the levels? Sure those COULD be done with Mode 7 on the SNES, but they always looked terrible and stuck out terribly in games like Yoshi’s Island. NSMB Wii is also much more intelligent about detecting what surfaces are walkable, Mario has inverse kinematics to make his feet touch the ground correctly, even when the ground sits at a strange angle. The polygons in the game scale and stretch constantly without ugly distortions.

    My point is that there are plenty of benefits to using 3D and that just because something is 2D there are no guarantees it will look better.


    As for the “Americans hate 2D” argument I think that gives the mindless consumer way too much credit for what gets made. The film industry is incredibly uncreative most of the time, once they find something that works they stick to it. That just happens to be 3D right now because it’s cheaper than 2D and Toy Story made lots of money. That’s what it comes down to.

    If the entire film industry abandoned 3D today and started making 2D films again no one would be upset. Instead people would mindlessly march off to the cinema like they always have. I went to see Ponyo recently when it opened in this country and the cinema was FILLED with kids and their parents… they didn’t discriminate because the film was 2D. They simply showed up.

    As for 2D films in the age of 3D that have failed in the past I would argue that most of those failed because of issues with the films themselves, not because they were 2D. Conversely the reason all the Pixar films have been successful is because Pixar make great stories. They’ve built a reputation for quality that has nothing to do with whether or not they use 3D. All of those stories could have been told with 2D and they would still be great.

  33. Just wanted to pop in among this 3D vs 2D argument and give thumbs up for that well written and thought out review. Much better than IGN’s review, which half of it seems to be whining about no online play.

  34. I feel as though, while American audiences are not averse to 2D, they associate it with the past–with dated technology. 2D is OLD. 2D is CHEAP. It’s associated far too often with browser flash games and systems of yesteryear. While Japan has had a consistent pump of quality 2D animation from all sides: movies, television, and games, the US has shifted full tilt into 3D as the primary mode of animation.

    With this, 2D games are believed to be somehow worth less, (not that the general populace can come to appreciate the merits of quality 2D work.) and that games in 2D on mainstream consoles should be released at lower price points, or as downloadable titles.

    The exception to this rule seems to be fighting games, as the recent BlazBlue has shown. But even then, the fighting game market is cornered by Japan, and so the consistent 2D trend makes sense.

  35. I always thought Disney abandoned hand-drawn animation simply because it was too time-consuming and expensive compared to computer animation. I have a hard time believing that has anything to do with it – plenty of CG-animated movies have tanked as well.

  36. As for the whole 2D/3D dealie, I can really take it either way as long as it’s well done, although I still have a great fondness for the 2D forme. I adore Super Mario Galaxy’s colorful and wonderous polygon style, while Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story was awesome on the 2D spectrum.

    I can still see why 3D sells, though. It has that more real “pull it out of the screen and play with it” feel (or at least look) to it, even if the characters are badly taped together marionette people (early 3D) or so real it’s freaky how their less real characteristics make them feel like automatons (uncanny valley HD 3D) or something inbetween. Personally, some of my favorite 3D is stuff that goes for a more cel-shaded style.

    It does annoy me how the gullible masses eat up 3D stuff and leave most 2D to rot, though. I’m sure we’d all love to see 2D get the respect it deserves instead of being thought of as “WTF NES STFU” stuff unless it’s cheap. On the flipside, 2D doesn’t always equal better. Both 2D and 3D have their share of crap, it’s just more noticable with a bunch of triangles because that’s what the clown car masses love.

  37. I realize now after reading some comments here that some peoples idea of the “masses” differs from the actuality of the situation.

    Take the Wii’s “Expanded Audience” for example 3rd party companies have shown many times that they don’t possess the knowledge to “crack” them. So all those people buying games like Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit, Wii Sports: Resort, New Super Mario Bros. (DS) Brain Age, Nintendogs etc. most of the industry is clueless on how to sell games to. It’s a good estimate that they represent at least a good half of the existing market.

    That doesn’t say anything for the underserved 55-65% households in the U.S. which absolutely no one has a clue as to the wants of.

    Also, when you consider that the industry in still shrinking in revenue. Piracy is rising, used sales are rising.

    How long does it take to realize in light of this that the “masses” aren’t after what the industry is putting out? That the industry has no clue what the customer wants? That a very high-end niche is being served by the industry; NOT the masses.

  38. I think it will be a while before anyone realizes your, uh, ‘point,’ liquidninja, because, recession notwithstanding, business is a-boomin’.

    You think piracy and used game sales is gonna make, say, Activision scratch its head and start making Call of Duty in 2D?

    What does the customer want, exactly, that the industry apparently fails to see? You think people are buying all these drab shooters because it’s the only thing out there?

  39. turkish
    Make Call of Duty in 2D? What are you smoking? Call of Duty is a *first person* shooter that would be like making Street Fighter into a racing game.

    The industry doesn’t have clue as to what the masses want. They only know what their core customers want. Since their core customers are a shrinking niche they get the worst of every recession and every population decline then start complaining about piracy, the second-hand market and have to find more ways to explain their obvious milking of revenue. Don’t kid yourself business is not a-booming.

  40. Sorry I’m late to the party, but a few comments:

    Americans tend to be outgoing and thus prefer the performing arts, Japanese tend to be shy and thus prefer the fine arts. 3D looks more like the performing arts than 2D, so Americans prefer 3D.

    But Jeremy, I agree with your concern that casual gamers focus on unplayable games and avoid playable games simply because of how they look. If this trend continues, video gaming could become some sort of spectator sport. Maybe it’s already going in that direction with NSMBW’s plays-itself mode.

  41. I just saw the video of the 1UPers playing, and I don’t like how the game makes all four players freeze for a second when one player gets hit. The 2-player Mario Bros. didn’t do this. I was hoping to play NSMBW with my dad, who loves (not Super) Mario Bros., but this timing throw-off will probably be a deal-breaker for him. I can tell you there have been dozens of times when I played Dr. Mario with him and if I finished first, he was terrified, yes, TERRIFIED, by the sudden drop-out of control if I finished first, because he had to devote all his attention to his own side of the screen.

  42. I like the 2D look and the 2.5D/3D look, it makes little difference to me which they utilize. While I was initially disappointed that Super Mario Sunshine didn’t employ the level of detail in its models as Super Smash Bros. Melee spoiled us with the year prior, I’ve come to appreciate the style for essentially looking like a 3D representation of the various drawings of Mario we had seen before (albeit slightly modified).

    It reminds me of something between a cartoon and a toy box, and I like it as such. Incidentally, I think Mario is one of the few, if not only games where it seems to work.

  43. Liquid Ninja, RE your insane request about my game re-releasing:

    Contra 4 was hand crafted sprite work.
    Rocket Knight is 3D (2.5D like NSMB).

    If you need more “proof” than that, how about this. Remember back in the late SNES/Early N64 days when the art in the manual changed from hand drawn to character renders?

    If people had complained it would be hand-drawn art again.

  44. Just look at the difference in box covers for MGS4: in America it’s a render of Snake, elsewhere it’s a drawing.

  45. On an unrelated note, I wasn’t planning on getting this game until a reviewer whose opinion I trust told me it was great. Thanks a lot jerk!

  46. There’s a big difference between people not complaining about a change and actively preferring it. Obviously people don’t prefer 2D over 3D, but that doesn’t prove that they prefer 3D over 2D – maybe people just don’t care. And 3D is cheaper, so if both work as well, why wouldn’t you use 3D? Many popular genres can only exist in 3D (e.g., first-person shooters), and many others benefit greatly from it (Dragon Age could have been sprite-based like Baldur’s Gate, but that would have made the game more expensive and less flexible). Examples like Contra 4 don’t hold much water, because who’s to say it would have been a hit if it had been 3D? I know none of my friends cared not because it was 2D (which they still like), but because it was a hardcore Contra game on DS. Starcraft is 2D, and it’s still ridiculously popular.

    Certainly some people prefer 3D, but I’m not at all convinced that’s what killed 2D gaming. Cost and practicality killed 2D gaming.

  47. Tomm Hulett (I just put that together, I know, shut up), It’s not insane. If you REALLY believe it was just the hand-drawn look of the game that doomed it then just re-release it as a polygon rendered game. Easy money! Better yet make Contra 5 a polygon rendered game.

    Rocket Knight *isn’t even released yet* and it will be a download game where as Contra 4 was a retail game. Even when it’s finally released you still can’t look at sales data. Don’t you think more proof is needed?

    I’m really sorry Contra 4 didn’t do great in sales but you have to admit that it could been a number of things that doomed it. Like maybe the lack of single card multiplayer, the shortness of the game, perhaps the difficulty on the “normal” setting or even issues with using two screens.

    I think you know it’s more complicated than simply the how the art is rendered. If not then it’s like I said you should re-release it as a polygon rendered game and see for yourself.

  48. As much as I love the look of traditional 2D graphics, I have to admit that 3D graphics have improved to the point where it’s possible for a 3D model to have the same level of detail and charm as 2D sprite.

    Take a look at Bionic Commando Rearmed: the game takes NES era graphics and manages to convert them to 3D without losing the charm or coming off as a garish mess. Would it have looked better with high res sprites? Maybe, but they would have to be really good to look better then what we got.

  49. It’s amazing how one person can cover their ears and shout LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING and transform a sensible conversation into a morass of awfulness. Don’t ever change, Internet.

  50. I think everyone here (but parish, obviously) has missed an important point in the original post: what you are calling “3D” is not 3D but fake 3D, i.e. it is a flat, 2D depiction of a 3D space that seems to exist behind your screen. This fake 3D (which of course normal, live-action TV and movies employ) fails to take advantage of human depth perception, which relies on seeing something different with each eye. People are used to accepting this with passive media–though I hasten to add that I hope must cultured people would prefer attending a play to a TV or movie based on the content, all other things being equal–but it is especially unnatural when you are supposed to interact with what is going on on screen.
    Real 3D (as far as I know) requires either holograms or glasses, and it is the current big trend in movies and is supposedly the next big thing in TVs. (Side note: a DLP set I bought in 2008 has a port to connect some LCD-shutter-based 3D-enabling glasses, but I think it is still rather difficult or impossible to find these for sale.) What has been called 2D gaming here are those games designed with this limitation in mind; they are inherently authentic. The faux 3D games here called 3D are inauthentic with respect to genuine 3D gaming just as screen-based drama is inauthentic with respect to plays. Whether game designers consciously knew it or not, they have had to design their gameplay systems around players’ inability to use their natural depth perception in situations where game characters would naturally use theirs. Thus faux 3D renders realism all but impossible. N.B. I’m not saying realism should be a goal of video games.

    Important side note: Metal Gear Solid 3 is the only faux-3D game I am aware of that embraces and highlights this flaw, albeit only after a key point in the game.

Comments are closed.