What made those old, 2D platformers so great?

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Skall 101 May 13, 2009 at 21:55

A look back at some of the best 8-bit and 16-bit platforming games, and the design behind ‘em:

http://www.significant-bits.com/what-made-those-old-2d-platformers-so-great

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SamuraiCrow 101 May 14, 2009 at 03:08

IMHO, they were cheaper and easier to make than 3d is now so they did a better job of polishing them until they shined.

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starstutter 101 May 14, 2009 at 07:56

I think more of the issue is that 3D just changes things. A lot of great 2D gameplay just isn’t compatable with 3D. One big reason sonic sucks now so bad is that in a 2D view you can see all of the environment around you, in 3D that’s not the case and it gets very confusing. View is also the reason that a shooter doesn’t typically work real well in 2D.

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fireside 141 May 14, 2009 at 11:36

They really are a lot different. I think that’s one reason you don’t see many puzzle type games in 3d. It’s possible, but it really doesn’t add anything because you need to stand back and look at the big picture. I never really got into the twitch type games so I can’t speak for the jumpers, though. I like them when they are more puzzle oriented, finding switches and using them in the right sequence, etc.

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alphadog 101 May 14, 2009 at 15:29

Define “great”.

Also, I think the thread may have taken a side road. I don’t think the blog author intended the juxtaposition with 3D, because there are fun 3D games too.

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Skall 101 May 14, 2009 at 23:10

Define great? Not sure if that was aimed at me, but, well, here are some definitions I picked from dictionary.com

  1. wonderful; first-rate; very good: We had a great time. That’s great!
  2. being such in an extreme or notable degree: great friends; a great talker.
  3. notable; remarkable; exceptionally outstanding: a great occasion.
  4. important; highly significant or consequential: the great issues in American history.

With that in mind, I was basically referring 2D platformers in my post that were critically and commercially acclaimed. So much so that they were often branded as “system sellers” i.e., the Mario and Sonic games.

As for 3D games, well, you guys are obviously free to discuss ‘em, although they are – in many ways – a wholly different beast.

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starstutter 101 May 15, 2009 at 02:27

I’m not gonna lie. I’m having a difficult time telling what people are even saying in this thread :P

Well anyway. I’m not saying 2D is bad, in many cases its much better for specific generes. I am however sick of people going around saying “2D games are the only good ones, 3D games suck so much because they’re all about technology”. Its like they forgot about the overwhelming hordes of bad 2D games. Just watch AVGN some time if you need a reminder \^_\^

Yeah crappy gameplay can easily be promoted today by good graphics **cough cough farcry 2 cough**, but it wasn’t any different back then. People are going to just remember the really good ones like sonic, mario and metroid. And in the future when they have, idk, 4D come out people will be saying “3D games were so good and 4D sucks, they’re all about technology!”

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TheNut 179 May 15, 2009 at 04:09

I liked the classic games developed by Nintendo, but not for those reasons alone ;) Squaresoft / Enix made the best story telling and RPG games of all time. I still remember the FF2/3, Chrono Trigger, and Secret of Mana / Evermore games. It’s drilled into my head and since then I have never been able to enjoy RPG games the way I use to. They raised the bar so high that I just have to accept those games as the best. Of course there were a lot of other games too that simply had high fun factor. Harvest Moon, SimAnt, Mario series of course, etc… These games were great because they offered escapism, challenge, and an interesting outlook on things. They didn’t mimic reality, rather something completely different, which I like.

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BloodyBandage 101 May 19, 2009 at 04:31

I think the Mario 64 platformer which was 3d was also a classic. I think a lot has to do with the camera angles…If you can’t get it right in 3d it just doesn’t feel like a platformer. The 2d classics were good because the graphics were simple enough to focus on gameplay while not playing with pong. Like TheNut said, it’s also about story telling. Chrono Trigger, breath of Fire, Lufia, FF3, etc. Write a good story, and get some char development and your 2d game will be fine.

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starstutter 101 May 19, 2009 at 04:45

@BloodyBandage

I think a lot has to do with the camera angles…If you can’t get it right in 3d it just doesn’t feel like a platformer.

I think that 3D and platforming generally shouldn’t go together. Untill we’re able to percieve true depth through the players eyes, its always going to be very difficult to judge the distance of jumps…

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rouncer 103 May 19, 2009 at 06:37

So does anyone think a 2d platformer (with the right amount of quality in the visuals) could still be sold today as a professional product?

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fireside 141 May 19, 2009 at 06:51

If it looks good and plays good with a few new twists and make it a 10 dollar download or something.

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_oisyn 101 May 19, 2009 at 13:16

@starstutter

I think that 3D and platforming generally shouldn’t go together. Untill we’re able to percieve true depth through the players eyes, its always going to be very difficult to judge the distance of jumps…

You don’t need stereoscopic view for depth perception. Usually, head movement is enough because then you see how fast objects move relative to one another, and thus how far away they are. I have an excellent judgement on which jumps I can and cannot take in games like Quake or Mirror’s Edge, just by moving around.

Btw, talking about new and original 2D platformers, Braid (PC and XBLA) is a really great game. It’s a bit short though…

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fireside 141 May 19, 2009 at 16:19

I know everyone made fun of them, but the old Tomb Raider games were my favorite jumping games. They had a nice combination of action and puzzles. The simplest way to take care of it is to just make a certain jump length so you get used to it, then you just have to release right at the edge of platform. The main problem with it is that it’s just one form of game play that doesn’t quite do it all by itself, so it needs to be supplemented with other forms.

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_oisyn 101 May 19, 2009 at 17:11

Hey, as long as it brings money to my wallet, I’ll never make fun of Tomb Raider :happy:

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rouncer 103 May 20, 2009 at 08:29

Tomb raider doesnt suck at all, i dont know what your talking about.
That game had excellent animation.

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tyree 102 May 22, 2009 at 07:32

with the question of could a 2d game sell today, odin sphere broke through. 3d platformers should come with an optional 2nd window that opens up and shows a side view. than its easier to judge the distance.

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Forgotnglory 101 Jun 28, 2009 at 04:26

Honestly i think the limitations is what made the 2d games so great. Take the mario game for example, you can only run and jump (excluding powerups). So in that case the developers had to stop and think. “how can we make running and jumping more intresting in this level then in the previous level” And so the developers created unique levels that had unique and memorable game play.
They were also more challenging then 95% of todays currently released games.

Now if you look at most of todays games especially the FPS genre its not so much about gameplay as it is about looks and one time experiences.

For example one lets take halo 3.

Halo does a good job at switching up gameplay largely because of its vehicles. In one level you’ll be on foot in the jungle, in another you’ll be in a warthog in a desert and in another you’ll be flying over the ocean or doing all these at once.

However, its variety is both its salvation and its downfall, it has so many different things going on that alot of things dont get any real special time. Things are just there because they can be and not to make any lasting impression.

Now what i mean by that is things like the hornet and banshee and many other things dont have much play time in the game and thus players cant compare different scenarios with thoes vehicles and or other items.

see, they could of had air support gameplay, chases , more dog fights, and etc… , and if they did then players could go MAN that chase was the best banshee moment in halo. instead games like halo try to replicate that now mostly with “boss battles” and other one time experiences and in halos case thoes were pretty… well underwhelming.

I believe there has to be a variety of gameplay with the same “tool” some mediocre (not saying that it has to be bad), some wierd, but all of it very unique to have very memorable moments. For example, halo 3 had a very memorable ending gameplay, and because of that ending i will always remember the warthog.

3d games like halo face a more challenging era because with 3d more is expected and making all of the expected material stick out is what makes a game great and memorable. This is another reason why 2d games are remembered more because 3d is the new standard and you dont see very many 2d games anymore.

Goings a little off topic here but With 2d games like donkey kong and mario The things i remember the most are the underwater levels and the castle trips trying to get to the boss and the extremely challenging super star levels in super mario world and things like that. (correct me if im wrong but i think all the worlds in super star area were the same color right? i remember they had some unique similaraitity.)

anyways 10 years from now i can only think of 2 games i would remember and i think i’ll end with that.