Recently I’ve been playing a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog and it’s sequel for the Master System. Sound familiar? Bear with me, it’s still a useful point to start from. Remember way back to the days of Sonic when pretty much every game was in 2D. Sure there were a few games that made an attempt at doing stuff in 3D, but for the most part you got a 2D game and you were happy about it!
Now I’m aware that some of our younger readers might not actually understand what a 2D game is, after all they’ve been brought up in an age where 3D graphics are thrown about like confetti at a wedding. See 2D was when you could only move your character side to side, and up and down (unless you were playing space invaders). There was none of this fancy moving towards stuff in the distance, oh no. No the distance was for parallax scrolling and things that looked way cooler than the stuff you got to fight, just like the backgrounds in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Apart from a few downloadable titles, pretty much every title these days takes place in a 3D world. There are still some gems like LittleBigPlanet that do incredible thing with only two dimensions, but for the most part we play in a 3D world these days and I’m not really sure we’re better off for it.
Sure, some would argue that they make the world feel more ‘real’ and make it more immersive, opening up a lot more gameplay possibilities. The downside to this is 3D worlds are harder to create, the character models alone are a huge increase in work. By no means am I saying that developers are being lazy if they take an ‘easy’ option when building 3D models, but the simple fact of the matter is that 2D sprites are easier to create than a 3D model. The quicker and easier the creation process is, the more time there is to come up with something fresh and original.
With all the taken into account do you feel that 3D games have made it harder to innovate? They haven’t exactly stiffled it, but compared to the things that indie developers pull off exceptionally quickly with a 2D engine the mainstream industry seems slow and juddering. What’s your take?