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Some video games stand the test of time. Sure, they may have started as 2D games, but they were able to evolve and get with the times. There is, and always will be, a place for 2D, but to be successful, a franchise needs to move on and enter the realm of 3D. I am not talking about 3D as in glasses and images popping off the screen. I am talking about a three-dimensional world for the characters in the game.
Some games have made the transition from 2D to 3D better than others. Some have struggled to adapt in a 3D world. Sonic the Hedgehog is a great example of a franchise that never seemed to find its legs in a 3D world. Sonic games were fantastic back in the day as side scrolling platformers, but when Sega tried to adapt to 3D, it just never seemed to work well. Today, we are going to talk about some games that were able to make the move, and do it incredibly well.
Many people think Metal Gear started in 1998 with the release of Metal Gear Solid, but it actually began in 1987 with the release of Metal Gear. This top-down game actually followed a similar formula to the modern iterations of the franchise. It featured Snake trying to move stealthily around the world, taking out enemies silently and without detection. It played like many other 2D top down games at the time, and certainly had a cult following.
Fast forward over 10 years later, and Metal Gear became the game we all know and love today on the PlayStation. It featured Snake wandering around a beautiful (for the time) 3D world and performing similar actions to those of the 2D games. It was adapted to 3D so well that it became easy to forget about the 2D roots. When I think of Metal Gear, I think of it as a game that has always been 3D, and that is a testament to how well it was brought to the 3D world.
While Mario has not let go of his 2D roots, his 3D adaptations are incredible. Mario 64 is one of the single best Mario games ever made. Super Mario Galaxy took three-dimensional platforming to another level and made gamers everywhere realize that you can still innovate on the platforming genre. While Mario may have started as a 2D mascot, he has certainly evolved into a multi-dimensional character that can do it all.
Whether you prefer your Mario in 2D or 3D, it is impossible to argue that he has not made the switch to 3D look smooth and effortless. Nintendo has yet to release a bad 3D Mario game, and I cannot imagine a situation where they would.
Grand Theft Auto
GTA is in a similar situation to Metal Gear. An entire generation of gamers will never play the top-down Grand Theft Auto games. People forget just how revolutionary Grand Theft Auto is as both a 2D and 3D game. Open world games were not all the rage when the first GTA hit the market.
I remember the first time I played the original GTA and how blown away I was by the ability to wonder around this sprawling city, and I thought that it could not get any better.
I had a hard time imagining a vast, open world making its way to 3D. It seemed beyond the limits of the hardware, but Rockstar found a way, and they have improved each game since GTA 3. The worlds become larger, the characters deeper and the gameplay more fun. GTA lives in the 3D world, and it does it with the style and grace of a game that has always been there.
These three franchises show us that you can evolve. Just because a game is something today, does not mean it cannot be something else entirely in the next console generation. These games figured out a way to literally move to an entirely different dimension in their gameplay, and they are more successful and better off for it.
What is the bigger lesson we can learn from these games and their ability to adapt to a changing market? What games do you think made the transition from 2D to 3D the smoothest? Let us know in the comments!