The Committee: Parallel dimensions

January 26, 2011

The Committee is in session. We’re taking on various issues in gaming, and our word is final. This week, we look the growing 3D trend and settle an old argument about platformer titles.

In support

Shawn Vermette: 3D is the future of gaming graphics because people are always looking for the biggest and best and newest technology they can get. 1080p is just about the maximum level of fidelity that the human eye can discern differences at, so improvement can’t come from that angle. What’s left? 3D or holographic graphics. In my mind, 3D is a step toward the holographic ideal, thus it is inevitable that 3D will become the standard of gaming, rather than a novelty.

Another reason is the standard process of technological adoption. Whenever a new technology, such as HD or 3D is introduced, it takes a while to get set, but when prices drop, adoption rates soar. 3D TV is just beginning to get a foothold in homes, and will skyrocket in adoption rates as soon as prices drop, which should happen within 3-5 years. By then, glasses-free 3D will finally start becoming viable for home TVs, further increasing adoption.

In opposition

Andrew Passafiume: 3D technology is not something I’d consider a fad as much as a gimmick. It’ll still be around for a long time in some capacity, but for video games it adds nothing to the experience. I see the purpose of motion controls and touch screens for games, but 3D does not enhance your gaming experience at all. I haven’t had a chance to try the 3DS yet so my experience is limited, but I fail to see how it can be used for anything more than a cool special effect every now and again. An game with 3D is still a game. It may look cool, it’s a gimmick that might grow old rather quickly and one I find that doesn’t enhance gameplay at all. 


In support

Gerry Pagan: Normally, I wouldn’t really care much if something forced me to use glasses or not to watch any kind of media. However, due to the fact that I myself wear glasses and can’t make out things that are closer than a few feet in front of me, wearing a pair of 3D specs on top of my regular glasses is something that usually neither feels right, or hampers the 3D effect on the glasses.

In addition to being problematic for people who already wear a set of glasses, it’s also an extra addition to keep track of and properly store. Unlike a big guitar or drum set peripheral, it’s easy enough to misplace something like a pair of glasses when they aren’t constantly being used. If you were to lose them, it’d hamper your ability to enjoy or even use the product they were intended with, as looking at 3D media that requires glasses looks even worse without them. I personally believe that if 3D is going to expand further in the market, it needs to do something about the shades. They’re more of a liability than they are a good selling point.

In opposition

Lillian Harle: With increasing technology, the days of the old red and blue 3D glasses are long gone. Though you might still see them in the theaters as a cheap way to pander to large audiences, in the home market, where most of gaming would occur, the technology is such so that the glasses are electronic devices in and of themselves, nearly as complex as the actual television sets they’re set to work with. As this technology becomes more and more a part of the market, the high price they are now will drop, just as high definition television sets did.


In support

Justin Last: 2D platformers are wonderful. Super Mario Bros. 3 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 will always hold a special place in my heart. That being said, the 3D platformer has iterated on all of the best concepts from 2D platformers while creating more immersive, impressive, and challenging environments to play in. Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 take everything I love about 2D platformers and crank it up to 11. Items can be well hidden without feeling cheap, power-ups like the ice flower can completely change how a level feels and plays, and the scenery available to the player puts 2D games to shame. I will never forget the first time I saw the MeltyMolten Galaxy, and that aesthetic just wouldn’t have had the same gravitas in 2D.

With the advent of 3D platformer developers have been able to introduce concepts from other genres to breathe new life into platformers, and the genre is better for it. Sucker Punch added stealth to the Sly Cooper series, Insomniac added excellent gunplay and RPG-style progression to the Ratchet & Clank series, and developers like Realtime Worlds and Sucker Punch added platformer gameplay to what should probably be classified as action games first (Crackdown and Infamous respectively). And then you’ve got games that just couldn’t work in 2D like Tomb Raider and Uncharted. Both are action-platformers, and neither would work anywhere near as well when viewed strictly from the side. When I think of my favorite games from the last two generations, one theme stands out more than any other, and that theme is 3D platforming.


In opposition

Mike Clark: I like both types of platformers. There’s great things to be found in both, but after reflecting over all the games I’ve played in each I have to say 2D is better. The percentage of good 2D platformers I’ve played is much higher than 3D, and bringing the game into three dimensions allows for the developers to mess things up a lot more than in a 2D game.

Some of the biggest problems in 3D platformers, like cameras, don’t exist in 2D ones. Even though you can still end up making a game bad, there’s fewer things to worry about in a 2D one than a 3D. Take for example Super Castlevania IV and Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. Both are second-generation in their 2D or 3D, and both were launched shortly into their system’s lives. But there’s a clear winner here, and it’s not the 3D title. It’s a time-honored format, a comfort zone, and people know how to make them great.


We’ve weighed in. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.