Will the DS begin the decline of 2D handheld games?

It seems like the GBA has been responsible for a healthy renaissance of 2D gaming, but is it coming to an end? Now that the DS with its 3-d capabilities is the new standard, are developers going to target only the DS for their AAA handheld titles, which will be 3-d, and leave only children’s titles or budget games for the GBA?

I think Nintendo will probably be concerned with supporting the DS over the GBA because they need to fight Sony’s PSP, so barring Pokemon, what will they have the resources to put out on the GBA? Will there ever be another 2d Zelda, Castlevania, Metroid, epic RPG, etc? The installed base of GBAs is astronomical, so I can’t imagine that developers would want to abandon it, but will it still get the top titles?

Discuss, if you care. I do, as I think 2D handpainted sprites have a timeless charm and beauty, and the mechanics of side-scrolling (or Zelda-esqe top-down) gameplay can be just as immersive as 3-D.

The DS does not spell the end of 2D at all. Taking a look at even the next Mario game, and the new Yoshi game both are 2D. They might have a few 3D effects thrown in, but they look to be very much good old platforming affairs.

If Nintendo’s Japanese launch lineup is any indication, they’re not about to abandon 2D. Band Brothers, Wario Ware, and Pokemon Dash are all 2D games. The only Nintendo games featuring 3D are Mario and a bastard Ridge Racer port.

I think one reason that 2D will survive on the DS is the cost to develop. From what I’ve read, PSP developers are being surprised how much it costs to develop a quality title, approaching the cost of titles for home consoles. GameBoy games have historically been relatively much cheaper to produce and I think economically the DS could end up being a better choice for developers, since they can play with cool new ideas with the touch screen without making a substantial investment.


Here’s a question: of the DS games, how many 3rd parties are making 2d games? I’d say it’s important to look at how companies other than Nintendo will react to the platform when considering this.

I do like the way they’ve done the metroid FPS for the DS. Finally, a viable handheld FPS!

Metal Slug 3 on Xbox. Zelda Four Swords on Gamecube. Mostly 2D DDR on PS2. Viewtiful Joe on Gamecube etc. A lot of developers for the GBA didn’t do 2D because they wanted to, they spent a lot of time trying to fake 3D with it (i.e. Tony Hawk etc). Less limits are better for gamers overall, but perhaps worse for the survival of smaller developers.

One of those is a port of a years-old game, and one of them isn’t really 2d in any gameplay sense.

Blah blah, tons of 2D fighters and shmups. Maybe even some adventure games. Plus of course the ports and updates of older games (arcade and SNES era console). Just because I can’t remember them all doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be counted. Anyway, what is more important, the use of sprites or the 2D gameplay as you put it? What exactly IS 2D gameplay anyway? Is it just minimalism or a UI ethic?

2D gameplay == gameplay that limits movement to two planes. For example, Super Mario Bros. 3 lets you move left and right and jump, so two dimensions. Ikaruga lets you fly on left-right and up-down, so two dimensions. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga lets you move left-right and up-down and jump, so, despite having 2d graphics, it’s got 3d gameplay.

And you really want to limit games to that? You realize that means you can’t even have King’s Quest, let alone any football or baseball games etc. I know that that is the classical definition, but I’m not sure how that works on the boundaries. I mean what if you had a tennis game where all you can do is move left and right, but it is rendered using polygons, you can adjust the camera at will, and the ball moves in all three dimensions (even though you can’t). How do you define that? And don’t cheap out and call it a hybrid - specify what parts categorize it as 3D.

Also, what if you have a game where YOU don’t move but the world moves around you, i.e. Eye of the Beholder, Myst or the maze sequences from Golgo 13. How is that any different from Haunted House? Just because the logical connection between the rooms is more immediate or more than one perspective is offered?

And what about games where movement occurs diagonally or in some other fashion that defies the traditional left right and jump and fall mechanic? Will ANY two planes of movement do?

PS - In Mario 3 you COULD go backwards and forwards behind those white blocks. Plus you can go up and down as well as left and right on the world map (although no jumping unless you count warp whistle - does stuff that happens without your control count?).

I totally aggreed with your point up until the white boxes thing in Mario, it doesn’t add a third dimension. And don’t forget that if you’d hit a monster (Ain’t gonna call them koopalings…) it’s still like you where in front of the scenery.


Why would anyone want to play semantics when it comes to defining a 2d or 3d game? I mean really, a 2d game is like porn, you know it when you see it.

Well it is just that extar’s definition seems pretty narrow. I mean most of the original Gameboy games aren’t even 2D under that standard. It also doesn’t even cover games where you don’t MOVE like an RTS or The Sims. Or games where you move other things besides an avatar. I mean is Chess 3D now under that definition?

I think that when people talk about 2D games they are talking about a certain design ethic or something, or they are using it as shorthand for a subset of gaming genres that they are used to seeing rendered with sprites or that they associate with nostalgically.