Gaming has come a long way since the days of Pong and Lemmings. Today we are blessed with powerful consoles that can run incredible games. We can explore procedurally generated universes in games like No Man’s Sky or take on a league of terrorists in Call of Duty. We can solve mysteries as Sherlock Holmes or take on the gods of Asgard in God Of War.
3D games have become the norm for most games. Minecraft is the most popular game in the world and is a prime example of the growing trend of 3D gaming. The level of creative freedom offered by the game is unparalleled. There are hundreds of sites online where you can find girl and boy skins for minecraft in the form of your favorite characters. And many people have been recreating their favorite fictional worlds, such as Middle Earth, within the game.
But even in this world of ever advancing 3D gaming we still occasionally see a 2D game being released. These games harken back to the charm of the earliest days of gaming. Today I am going to explain to you the real charm of 2D games.
The Most Popular 2D Games
If we look back throughout the history of gaming you will notice that nearly all of the most popular games in existence, save for Minecraft, are 2D games. For example, if you were to ask someone who is the most recognizable character in gaming chances are they will say Mario. The mustached Italian plumber is such a household that even older people who have never played a game in their life know who he is.
The early Mario games were all super successful and changed the gaming landscape forever. And all of this was done with 2D graphics. And it isn’t just Mario that found their start in the world of 2D gaming. Sonic the Hedgehog, Link from the Legend of Zelda, The Lemmings. Some of gaming’s most recognizable characters all hail from the age of 2D gaming.
Some of my earliest gaming memories are from the days of the original Gameboy and Gameboy color. Games such as Wario and Toy Story were some of my all time favorites. Back in the day when your progress couldn’t be saved and you had to remember level passwords to get back to where you were.
So why do companies keep making 2D games in this new age of 3D gaming? Well one of the main reasons is nostalgia. Arguably one of the most powerful forces in the world of marketing. In recent years we have seen just how much influence nostalgia has over the creative world. Many shows and games are being rebooted or remastered.
And a lot of developers have been taking a new approach to exploit the nostalgic feeling gamers seek. They create new 2D games that harken back to the golden age of 2D gaming. Side scrolling platforms are still being made, with much inspiration taken from Mario and Sonic. So a lot of the charm of these new 2D games come from the sense of familiarity and warmth gamers get when they play them.
Modern technology has made it far easier for designers to create games. 3D modeling programs are significantly advanced now and artists have a lot more technical freedom when it comes to their designs.
But 2D gaming still provides somewhat of a challenge compared to designing 3D games. Because 2D graphics need to be stylised to a certain degree to stand out in the current gaming market.
Take the game Moonlighter. A isometric 2D dungeon crawler where you also run a small shop. The game uses a classic pixel art style that harkens back to the old days of Zelda. Yet it also has its own unique spin on the art style. It blends the classic with the new in a way that draws you in and immerses you.
And this is why 2D games are so charming. They allow players to step into wholly unique and varied worlds that ask them to use more of their own imagination to fill in the gaps that are left by the landscape not being 3D.