At the beginning of last year “I wrote about my new Game Boy Advance”:http://www.manton.org/2005/01/new_year_gaming.html and how it was finally the system that pulled me back into gaming, something that consoles and computer games could not do. A year later, the PSP is out, the DS is selling well (I own one), and the Xbox 360 is off to a solid start. So what happened with the questions I raised, in particular in regards to 2d games and Game Boy Advance games?
Sadly, earlier this year Nintendo hinted that there may never be a successor to the Game Boy Advance. Their “three pillar” strategy sounded good last year, but the DS turned out much better than anyone had hoped. With the DS Lite fixing all the major design problems with the original DS, it now seems more likely that Nintendo will focus on the Wii and let great DS games drive the handheld market until a next-gen DS becomes needed.
2d games, on the other hand, have seen something of a resurgence. Sonic Rush for the DS has the same feel as the Genesis games. New Super Mario Bros is also fantastic. The PSP has a beautiful if quirky 2d game coming soon in the form of “RocoLoco”:http://locoroco.com/index.html. Even the Xbox 360 has its share of 2d games on Xbox Live, and at E3 Nintendo announced a “2d GameCube game set in the Paper Mario universe”:http://www.n-sider.com/articleview.php?articleid=515. Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection has breathed new life into that original Game Boy game, Tetris; 4-player internet play with “items” is a completely new Tetris and more fun than I would have imagined.
Peterb’s essay “Design of Everyday Games”:http://www.tleaves.com/weblog/archives/000637.html has some great insight into game design complexity, using Advance Wars and other 2d games in several examples.
From the October 2005 Nintendo Power, Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi says:
bq. “2-D gaming can provide such a great game design–games with definite and solid gameplay. From a presentation standpoint, it may lack what 3-D can do, but let me yell once again, what games need are fun and exciting elements! 2-D games offer these things.”
No question, 2d is here to stay, and it’s only getting better. The Game Boy Advance had a good run, but now it’s time to say goodbye. See Modojo’s “The GBA’s Last Stand”:http://www.modojo.com/features/20060524/77/.