2D vs 3D --- Which is Better?

Posted on April 25, 2012 - 9:00am by darkhyrulelord


 The choice is.....NOT YOURS!!!  MWAHAHAHAHAAA!!! No just kidding.  It's yours.



 Green Hill Zone (remix) -- Sonic Generations


So I am recently attempting to conquer Sonic Generations with its 2D and 3D levels in one game (and sometimes merging them seamlessly into the other).  Both of these types of levels were fun and had their pros, but they also had their cons as well.  It also got me thinking as to which one is better.  After all, it even seems that video game developers are having a hard time choosing which one to implement into their game.  

2D?  Or 3D?

2D has been there since the beginning of gaming in the arcade days.  It wasn't until about.....eh....the mid 90's until 3D actually was good enough to compete.  But newer doesn't always necessarily mean better, and you can't teach old dogs new tricks either.  Therefore, it's time to delve into this conundrum and figure which one is better!  First off....






2D has far more basic controls than 3D and is therefore (often) does not require large tutorial.

Now go fight monsters! 

Don't you miss those days when anyone can just pick up a game and just...play it?  While there are some 3D games out there are "pick up and play" games such as Super Mario 64, there are many more controls involved.  In 2D games, all you need is a D-Pad,  some buttons for jumping or attacking or shooting, and you're set.  It's odd to think that these simple games have such elaborate manuals to read anyway...but it's still cool and I shouldn't complain about that.  2D games are also simple enough for newcomers to play---so even your grandparents can play!  And even beat you too.  MWAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!


2D usually has one simple goal in mind---go right.


While it is true that some 2D games have other directions you must follow, the basic rule applies that you must keep moving forward....which is usually right.  For example, games such as Castlevania can take you into more than one direction, but you are always making progress--one screen to the next as you make your way to Dracula's lair.  In short, nearly all 2D games have one ending goal in mind, so there is no mandatory need to waste time searching for stuff if you are on a speed run.  The simple direction also caters to newcomers to gaming.


Things can be seen behind you, above you, and below you more easily in walls in 2D.


Traps and enemies can be seen all around your character in the environment, helping you to plan out and strategize your way ahead.  It also usually allows it to be YOUR fault if you get hit be something.  The major plus about this is that you can see what's BEHIND you, too.  So there is no excuse when something comes up from behind you and tries to take a stab at you.  Contra is a great example of this.  It's a tough game, but the 2D environment shows you what hazards lie all around you.  2D also gives you a better sense of the environment than FPS games can.  You can't exactly see all around you in the same time in Call of Duty unless you have SUPER HIGH sensitivity!


2D generally feels as if it has fair difficulty.


Megaman 9---the game that Stickman can't beat trololololol

It's difficult to explain, but 2D just feel more....fair whenever I die from something.  The best way I can explain this is that I feel slightly more frustrated whenever I die in a 3D game than in a 2D game.  It might be a myriad of factors, but 2D just feels more fair while gaming.  You might disagree with me with super hard games such as Megaman 9's tricks and traps but I say that the attacks of enemies and the placement of the hazards in the environment are more fair and predictable in this game than...say the typical 3rd Person 3D Shooter.


Since 2D is not very realistic in our point of views, 2D allows games to break into an "ideal" non-realistic world.


Let's face it, sometimes it's simply fun to play an unrealistic world if done right.  2D games make this transition more easily than 3D games can since 2D isn't very realistic to begin with.  This works great with a game such as Rayman Origins where the entire game is unrealistic yet in a very good quality.  2D helps to make this connection since it fits the unrealistic world in a deep level.


2D games are easier to make.


Since 2D games are so simple, they are easier to make---and usually cheaper these days too.  It's gotten to the point that many 2D homebrew games have hit the market such as Battle Kid (I really want to play that game, you have no idea).  There are a good number of user-friendly 2D engines that can be used to create your own levels such as a Mario level creator.   Heck, Little Big Planet FLOURISHES on this prospect since the main deal with that game is that you get to play user-generated 2D levels!




Bottomless pits are harder to recognize in 2D.


Usually it's good to assume that any bottomless pit you face means instant death....but how are you sure?  The only true way to find out is if you take that leap of faith.  It's also rather aggravating when you jump down into what you think is a bottomless pit but it takes you to a secret path OR you jump down into something that you think is a secret area only to realize that it is a pit of death.  In 3D games, at least you can look down them to see if they are death pits or not.  At least some 2D games let you wall jump or have a dark outline around them to symbolize that it's not a good idea to go down there.  But still...


Only so much can be seen on the screen and in the background.


Look how big they are in comparison to the screen!

Games such as Megaman 7 in particular, Goemon's Great Adventure, Sonic Advance 2,  and shoot em ups (ESPECIALLY shoot em ups)  are guilty of this.  They are good games, but it gets annoying when it comes to this fact. On-screen characters and enemies take up too much of the screen to the point that you can't visualize the background.  The screen itself also feels particularly smaller than it should be in more 2D games than 3D games.  It really becomes a problem when you run into enemies that can't see in time since the screen is so small!  Sonic Advance 2....so many needless deaths.


Hidden items and enemies can be hidden in ways that feel borderline cheap.


If it's one thing I'm not a fan of when it comes to 2D games, it's hidden items in a cheap spot. Megaman X and Metroid are big offenders.  It becomes worse when there is no checklist or some sort of map, since more 2D games have no maps than 3D games do.  They also seem to be more cheaply hidden in 2D games as well to the point that you just have to stare at some item someone reveals and you say, "HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS?" This wouldn't be so bad if they were, well, secret items but it's not cool when it's mandatory.  I was literally stuck in Metroid Fusion for an hour just because I didn't see a speck on the ground.  Hidden enemies tend to blend in walls quite well in 2D games more than in 3D games for some reason...


Not very realistic...period.


This can turn off some gamers, I am sure.  Some people like to be able to play as if they are in real life, such as 3D environments or a 1st Person perspective---hence why a franchise like Call of Duty is so ridiculously popular.  After all, like I've said before in a previous blog, people always had their "cameras" locked into their heads, so why not games?


2D games are slightly more limited in terms of having more genres.


Nearly all true 2D games are either platformers, shoot em ups, fighting games, and RPGs if you stretch it a bit.  Other genres are like a hybrid, or use a top down down view. Technically, top down view games are NOT 2D games---they are just primitive 3D games. Don't believe me?  It's hard to explain, but in 2D games, there is only length and width, but in a top down view, there is another direction you can go through that's not right or left---practically "into the screen".  You also have floors in top down view games and there are quite a few you can jump in as well.  Therefore, all of those top down view games that you enjoyed as child were 3D all along.   I'm an evil dark lord, I know....MWAHAHAHAHAAA!!!  Wait....does that mean that shoot em ups are 3D?  .....Don't think too hard.  Moving on.


Not much breathing room on the screen.  (AKA Bullet Hell)


Bullet hell sucks....so do screen-filling attacks that take a miracle to dodge.  It's a poor replacement for fair difficulty.    I mean, there's only that locked in amount of space on the screen that you can go on.  In 3D, you can usually escape from said attacks.  'Nuff said.






 More realistic.

Pictured: A video game image.

Like I said before, people generally like a game that oozes as if it is believable and realistic, and 3D games offer this not only in camera perspective, but in being able to reenact events that could happen in real life.  That's why so many 3D war, driving, sports, or simulation games are made, because people want to do the same things in games....I suppose.  I mean, why else are these games so popular?


It relatively has the capability to have more genres. 


This right here is the best advantage that 3D has going for.  So many various genres (and even hybrids of genres) have been spawned from the 3D games.  For instance, there's FPS, RPG, JRPG, racing, sports, hack and slash, beat em up, simulation, puzzle  (I know there's 2D ones but bear with me), adventure, etc.  3D also has its own platformers and shoot em ups as well, so it also hogs anything that the 2D side has going for.  3D takes these genres to a whole new level---and a dimension as well, and thus making gaming genres better.


Background and world has more depth, meaning that there is more to explore.


3D gives you yet another dimension to explore in games, which is certainly good news for adventure games and RPGs.  This also increases play time, and it gives you more realms to experience and withhold.  For example, Zelda 2 can be beaten in about 3 hours while Ocarina of Time can be beaten in around 12.  Quite a big jump if you ask me.  3D also helps out in sandbox games into giving you more room to create and discover.  Batman: Arkham City and Grand Theft Auto generally supply larger worlds than 2D games can offer since there is height involved.  Immersing into the game with a larger world is much easier, and therefore it is much easier to immerse into a 3D game.


Graphically has the capability to be more impressive and thus can suck you in.


People like graphics, good graphics in particular.  3D has a much greater chance to offer it. Uncharted 3 is a great example of this.  People state that video games are becoming an artform, and if so, then 3D games offer a MUCH bigger canvas to create on.  3D games tend to be far more graphically appealing than 2D games offer.  Hence why most 3D triple A games are released more onto more powerful consoles and gaming engines.  ....This might be why most of those said games aren't on the Wii. .........*warlock punches*


There is little excuse if you get hit by a hidden hazard or enemy relatively.  (3rd Person more so)

In a 3rd Person 3D game, there is little excuse if you are caught in a trap or surprised by something, especially if there is a 360 degree camera in the game.  A good example of this is Metal Gear Solid 4.  For a stealth game, 3D is perfect since it not only allows you to escape detection in a far greater number of ways than in 2D, but it allows you to see behind walls and corners.  True, 1st person games don't get this benefit, but 3rd Person does and thus, 3D flourishes.


Games are generally longer and have higher quality than 2D games.


People want longer games, and 3D games offer this.  No more shall you be able to sit through a game and sit through it in one sitting, for 3D games offer 20 hour or longer games.  This offers more bang for your buck, as players are able to experience more levels, more...well...3D space, more things to discover, things to do, things to collect, you get the idea.  A great example of this is Skyrim or Minecraft.  These 3D games offer many different styles of gameplay that is more suited to the player, which is another plus for 3D gaming.  You don't always have to go on a one-way trip to the final boss....spend some time admiring the sights and such.




Games take longer to make and they usually are more expensive.


Games cost money.  3D games usually cost more money.  Gamers like to play a new game ASAP.  3D games usually get delayed and take longer to make due to their complexity.  You get the picture.


The control scheme and goal is usually more complicated, meaning that a bigger tutorial is needed.


TOO BAD there usually aren't ANY tutorials these days!

UGH.  This is the WORST thing that has happened with 3D gaming.  The time when we NEED these tutorials for the game in the form of an instruction booklet.....they're not there.  Instead, we get this sad little thing as a back up...


 .......'tis sad day indeed.  3D game controls generally are far more complex than 2D games are...not to mention that the objectives are also usually more complicated.  Instead of putting in an instruction booklet, we now have hour-long tutorials that usually MUST be played in the game.  Video game developers....this is not fun....if you are going to make an in-game tutorial, then at least make it optional.  No one wants to sit through a lesson for an hour before the game actually has to start.


3D games are generally more hit-and-miss than 2D games are.


These days, there a bunch of cruddy 3D games out there and.....hold up....I have a flashback of cruddy 2D games as well.  .....Scratch this.


The camera can be a BIG issue.


This is a big problem that 3D games can have.  2D cameras are usually locked in on the player and can get the job done.  HOWEVER, locked on cameras for a 3D game is generally not a good thing.  After all, what if a player wants to go around a corner...or just simply get a better angle while fighting an enemy?  Epic Mickey has a crappy camera, and even good 3D games may even be hindered one moment or another by and uncooperative camera.  We've all been there...  I always suggest 3D games to have a 360 degree camera at all times if they can.  Some cameras do have a lock on system...which generally does work well.  However, I sometimes can't help but feel that after I lock on to something, that I can just button mash my way to victory.


Things in the distance can pop up unexpectedly.


This is more common in older 3D games, but it can happen these days as well.  3D racers are usually guilty of this.  While still a fun game, Episode 1 Racer for the N64 has hazards that pop out of nowhere and can make you explode in an instant!  Another example is when you search for 100 coins in a stage in SM64.  I swear that some of those coins don't pop up unless you are RIGHT NEXT TO IT.  Who knows?  Maybe it's just the N64.  However, I do remember a review on ScrewAttack that mentioned that LA Noire had this problem while driving.... : /


Water levels generally suck harder in 3D games.


Water levels usually aren't too fun.  3D water levels suck harder.  Not only do they feel slower, but the controls for swimming are usually ATROCIOUS.  Imagine being able to go in ANY direction you wish to on a controller.  Yeah, not too easy.  Conker's Bad Fur Day also has a rather terrible water level to boot too.




Before I started this list, I was probably going to chose 2D.  HOWEVER, I felt that 3D won by a hair since it has more genres to offer, and thus can appeal to a wider audience.  Also, while 2D may have been better for the longest time, it no longer is.  That is why more 3D games are making a small fortune these days, because they are better.  At first I thought that 3D may be a gimmick, but the 3DS has disproved that....as well as 3D games in general.  3D gaming may feel more complex, but the complexity is well worth it in the end.   Therefore, the winner is.....




Before I give out the GANON AWARD (shoutout), I forgot to do something on my last blog.  I quickly want to express my thoughts of God of War: Ascension in 5 sentences.  I know this is random, but the Dark Lord must do this.


I generally like God of War even though that Sony is milking it a bit too far, so I watched the trailer.  To be honest, I was disappointed that it was going to be a prequel since there already were two prequels (the Origin games).  It's like g1 Tom the Iron Man said....Ascension basically screws over the Origin games.  I was hoping for something like time travel or Egyptian gods but oh well...  I probably would still enjoy the gameplay---therefore I will play it....at a lower price since God of War games aren't exactly lengthy.


Today's GANON AWARD goes to....

g1 Hero of Lime Dood!  Celebrate it by seeing his Sonic Generations review from who knows how long ago!


» Comments: 44

g1 Discussions

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ScrewAttack's media platforms.

Around The Web