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Thread: 3D... what genres were harmed, what ones benefitted?

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    Default 3D... what genres were harmed, what ones benefitted?

    I've recently been watching videos by a dude named Kim Justice, who does a lot of documentaries about gaming companies (usually British ones who were big on the microcomputer scene), and there is one recurring theme: a lot of formerly promising devs couldn't adapt to the coming of 3D.

    I'll admit it... back in the day, I actually got to a point where I loathed 3D and polygons. A big honk-me-off was when I saw a picture of the Playstation Ranma 1/2 game. Characters who looked so good in 2D anime suddenly looked horribly ugly (this must've been a prototype or something though because I saw the game recently and it didn't look that bad). Which I remember actually being a problem for a long time, a lot of 3D versions of characters just looked stupid.

    But a bigger issue was gameplay. As much as the industry was all about 3D, the truth is that it was a lot like motion controls: for every one game that was better in 3D, there were ten that were made worse by it.

    It got me to thinking about what genres are better in 3D, and which ones are better in 2D.

    Here's my thoughts:

    Better in 3D

    Racing Games. While there are a lot of classics, I never was a huge fan of top-view racers like RC Pro-Am (I do like Micro Machines a little tho). For me racing needs either first person or that behind-the-car view, and then 3D allowed things like dynamic tracks where you can go off-road and find shortcuts and stuff, which is a definite plus. Ironically tho my favorite racing game, Outrun 2006 Coast to Coast, plays just like the oldschool Outruns and thus doesn't really take advantage of the 3D.

    Certain RPGs, particularly any with a focus on exploration. My reasons are similar to my next point:

    GTA type games. One of the few appeals this series has for me is just being able to fly/climb to great heights. I love high places, but the feeling of being at the top of a mountain or flying through the sky where the world below you is like a speck is something very hard to do in 2D, so I can't imagine Markiplier's "Helicopter Jousting" video ever happening in a world where GTA had remained top-view.

    First Person Shooters are kinda obvious here.

    Better in good ol' 2d

    This is gonna be controversial, but... fighting games. One thing that gives fighters their impact is the sense of immediacy that some moves can have, especially things like cancelling one move into another and such. This is possible in 2D because not every movement needs to be meticulously rendered. But in 3D it does if you don't want it to look jank, and the little extra movements can cause things to feel sluggish and lack that impact. On top of this, I don't care for how all the 3d fighting games I've played employ a dial-a-combo system and try to have more "realistic" fighting styles. Just watch an Evo match of Street Fighter II or Marvel vs Capcom compared to an Evo match of Virtua Fighter or Tekken to see what I mean.

    Side-scrolling platformers. 3D platformers just were not a good replacement. Again it comes down to that sense of immediacy 2D allows that 3D really doesn't. That and I don't really like running around collecting stuff, I like interesting challenges.

    Story-focused games like JRPGs. Again, that sense of "immediacy." If you don't know what I mean... its kinda similar to what Egoraptor talked about in his Sequelitis video for Legend of Zelda. Like, what may have been a five-second walk from one town to another is now ten minutes, and that extra time just makes the thing feel slower than it actually is. Even for things like cutscenes I tend to find short animations like the sprite suddenly being in a kneeling position is more impactful than having to see the full range of motions like some 3D games do. 2D allows you to get to the freaking point.

    Really most of what I've mentioned goes in general for a lot of games. Kim Justice's video on Sensible Software for example mentions that when their Soccer games went 3D, they somehow felt slower even though they played pretty much the same as the 2D installments.

    Stuff I'm on the Fence About

    Pinball games. I honestly can't tell if 3D had any noticable impact or effect.

    Survival Horror. I've seen effective horror in both 2D and 3D, so it seems this comes down to the creator, not the nature of the game.

    So, what are your thoughts?

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    2D absolutely necessary
    Pac-Man like games, and many of the concepts of the golden age of arcade games (1975-1984)

    Usually works better in 2D, but 3D sometimes works
    One on one fighting games are usually better in 2D. 3D adds a layer of complexity that isn't needed.

    Can do equally well in 2D or 3D
    Beat-em-up games.

    Usually works better in 3D, but 2D sometimes works
    "Sim" type games, like The Sims or Sim City, need 3D or 2.5D. I played SimCity on SNES in 2D and it's fun, but it's just that much better with SimCity 3000 or SimCity 4 in 2.5D.
    Platformers, I like 3D better in general but some series do better in 2D like Sonic.

    3D absolutely necessary
    Maybe it's the "born in 1992" in me talking, but RPGs are a genre I feel really benefited from 3D, because it allows for greater immersion in the experience. It just doesn't feel... right to play a 2D RPG. Feels like I'm not as "connected" to the experience. RPGs NEED 3D.
    Racing games were some of the first beneficiaries of 3D for good reason.
    Last edited by WelcomeToTheNextLevel; 05-31-2019 at 11:40 PM.
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    I think racing games benefited from the transition to 3D more than any other genre. I have little interest in the vast majority of 2D racing games.

    I'm not super big on fighters to begin with, but I definitely prefer 2D ones over 3D ones. Have almost no interest in the latter.

    I'm also not big on sports games, but on the rare occasions when I play one, it's probably 2D.

    I like 3D platformers just as much as 2D platformers when they actually feel like genuine platformers, but that's a big caveat. The transition to 3D evolved platformers to the extent that most ended up being more like action-adventure games with a focus on exploring and collecting rather than getting any challenge from the actual platforming. But 2.5D platformers are immune from this.

    I feel like visual novels should stay 2D. The rare few that have 3D character models kind of turn me off. I wanna look at hand-drawn art in VNs.

    Anything else I probably don't care much either way. I remember feeling iffy about Star Ocean going fully 3D with Star Ocean 3, but I quickly warmed up to the idea, and then it ended up being one of my favorite games. But I'm also fond of fully 2D RPGs and RPGs that mix sprites with 3D.

    Overall, I embraced 3D pretty easily. I've never stopped loving 2D, but I was also totally wowed by Super Mario 64 and got an N64 at launch. I've never been able to relate to retro gamers who are very anti-3D and hated Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, etc. just because they were 3D, even when they loved all the older Mario and Zelda games and what have you.
    Last edited by Aussie2B; 05-29-2019 at 08:37 AM.

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    Beat em ups never translated to 3D very well.

    Sonic games are basically a genre and most the 3D ones never really recaptured the magic of the Genesis titles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    I feel like visual novels should stay 2D. The rare few that have 3D character models kind of turn me off. I wanna look at hand-drawn art in VNs.
    Yeah, I recall watching reviews of Mighty Number 9 and how it tried to do cutscenes in a visual novel style, but with 3D models. As the reviewer (I think it was SomeCallMeJohnny) pointed out, instead of looking artistic, it just kinda looks lazy. He even recreated five seconds of one cutscene with 2D stills and it immediately looked five times better.

    Which is kinda ironic considering VNs are already kind of a "lazy" genre since you literally just recycle a bunch of still images and sound queues, but it works for some reason. An example of less effort equalling a better product.

    Also agreeing about platformers, a lot of 3D ones are more exploration focused and while some get into trying to find every last crystal in a level... admittedly for a time I was really into Spyro the Dragon, but on the whole I prefer something like Magician Lord.

    ..... That's actually another benefit of 2D in general I forgot to talk about... the aesthetic differences are a bit more obvious. Like, you compare say... Valis to say, Decap Attack--both are kinda dark, but one is more anime-dark, the other is cartoony. Or like how SNES games can sometimes have a "SNES look" about them (Super Adventure Island comes to mind). It can make a lot of games feel individual and unique. There's a lot of games I love just for their aesthetics alone, like X-Multiply.

    with 3D I often feel like all 3D games feel the same. I mean obstensibly some are supposed to be more "happy and colorful" than others, but just looking at them, Conker's Bad Fur Day or Goldeneye 007 look a lot like Zelda and Mario 64 to me. You would think this is less of a problem nowadays, and I'm sure someone is gonna bring up Far Cry 3 vs Far Cry: Blood Dragon.... but the latter, while obstensibly "eighties aesthetic," as soon as you start its just another modern FPS.

    Meanwhile, First Samurai vs Kendo Rage on the SNES. Both are side-scrolling platformers about people with swords who use samurai skills to kick but. One is from Europe and the other is from Japan. Even without knowing anything about First Samurai you could guess its a port of an Amiga game because it feels like it. Or to go over to the Sega Genesis, Gods vs Revenge of Shinobi. Both side-scrollers where you throw knives at people, but Gods is (again) very clearly not coming from the same place as Shinobi (and is, again, an Amiga port, and its distinct aesthetics give that away).

    Again, as early as the PS1 and N64 I kinda got the feeling that 3D games were homogenous. Like it takes more effort for one to stand out visually. The only one I can think that does is Mega Man Legends and I'm not sure if that's for real or just me being a Mega Man fanboy.

    Also the "anime dark" aesthetic exemplified by games like Valis and Magician Lord seems to have totally disappeared, which sucks as it was my favorite aesthetic.

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    As far as Japanese vs. Western aesthetics go, I think they're very distinct regardless of the dimension. With a very high success rate, I can tell which 3D games are Western and which are Japanese, just by seeing them in action a little, when I know nothing about them otherwise. Even when they heavily try to mimic the style of another region, their roots are still obvious. Dark Souls is still very Japanese, and Sudeki on Xbox isn't fooling anybody into thinking its Japanese.

    The Mega Man Legends sub-series does have a very distinct style among 3D games in general. I've long been searching for other games that give me the same kind of vibe, but so far, all I've come with is the Little Tail Bronx series (Tail Concerto and Solatorobo) and Tokobot. (Actually, it was the other way around in that I was a fan of Tail Concerto first and was drawn to Mega Man Legends because it reminded of Tail Concerto.) I mean, they're all "blue sky" games, as the Japanese refer to them, but there are tons of other "blue sky" games that don't have the same feel as those.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    The Mega Man Legends sub-series does have a very distinct style among 3D games in general. I've long been searching for other games that give me the same kind of vibe, but so far, all I've come with is the Little Tail Bronx series (Tail Concerto and Solatorobo) and Tokobot. (Actually, it was the other way around in that I was a fan of Tail Concerto first and was drawn to Mega Man Legends because it reminded of Tail Concerto.) I mean, they're all "blue sky" games, as the Japanese refer to them, but there are tons of other "blue sky" games that don't have the same feel as those.
    It's JP exclusive on PS1, but Dr. Slump is one that comes to mind.

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    Right, I've heard of that one actually, but I've never come across it in my import shopping. Seems a bit more expensive than the average Japanese PS1 game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    Right, I've heard of that one actually, but I've never come across it in my import shopping. Seems a bit more expensive than the average Japanese PS1 game.
    I've yet to do any Playstation importing myself, so I wouldn't be surprised if that one is a bit more rare.

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    3D platforming can be done well, but on the whole 2D tends to work out better. Some of it is technical things like bad camera or just plain fugly graphics, but a lot of it is that having that third axis in a relatively precise game can make or break it very easily.

    3D fighters can be very good, but tend to better for spectacle titles like the Soul series since they work towards making things look good as opposed to being better from a technical fighter perspective. SCIII is still the only fighting game I can claim to anything like competence because the gameplay is more loose and forgiving, where KoF, DoA, or Tekken give me fits since I tend to just pose at people and 2D fighters evolved beyond my ability to handle them long ago.

    RPGs...well...they're complicated. Personally I feel that 2D exploration, or 2D-ish exploration (like say, Breath of Fire III and IV) works out better, since it's simpler to have things to do or interact with, but 3D 'real time' combat has a level of depth and energy that 2D real time usually doesn't. When it come to turn-based, sprites tend to work out a bit better, especially compared to early 3D's menagerie of Starfox LSD monstrosities.
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