Oh no, here goes Shamus again on one of his crazy howling rants against modern graphics.
Not quite. Humor me for a minute.
I trust you've read what Yahtzee had to say last week on the whole 2.5D thing and the resurgence of two-dimensional gameplay that we're seeing after more than a decade of having mainstream games that followed the mantra of "all 3D, all the time."
I've spent the last fifteen years working professionally with 3D graphics in various ways, from modeling to level design to programming. Most of the computer games I own are in 3D. If I ever get the chance to make my ultimate dream game, (don't pretend you don't have one too) it will also be 3D. Allow me to indulge in a bit of hypocrisy and say that even though I've made 3D in the past, am working on 3D now, and would like to work on 3D in the future, I think the "all 3D" trend is unfortunate and I'd love to see more 2D games. More to the point, I think a fresh infusion of mainstream 2D games would be really healthy for the hobby.
Publishers seem to be searching around, looking for a gameplay mechanic that acts as a good hook and can turn their short graphics demos into the Next Hot Thing. But they might do better to look backwards because there were a lot of fun ideas they discarded when they decided that wrestling with camera controls should count as "gameplay," and that the problem with Sonic series was that it didn't have enough dimensions. I don't know why things went this way. We managed to invent the automobile without throwing away all the bicycles, why couldn't we have 3D games without giving up the 2D ones?
Not every game was ruined by moving to 3D, but they all seem to have lost their identity. There is no denying that Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is a fantastic game, but the gameplay is nothing like the original. Likewise, Super Mario Galaxy was a lot of fun, but it's a completely different game than Super Mario. Same goes for Metroid. The new games are unquestionably fun and I'm glad we have them, but... can't we have the old ones too? What about fans of those bygone titles? There are only so many times you can replay the originals and still get something out of them. While flash games might offer a similar experience, they lack the production values and polish that made those old 2D titles into classics.
Note that this discussion always has a lot of confusion because sometimes people mean different things when they say "2D games." There are games that use 2D graphics: The Super Mario, Prince of Persia, and Bionic Commando of old. Note that I would also classify top-down games like Diablo and StarCraft as 2D graphics because the gameworld is drawn with 2D tiles and it would be impossible to change the camera angle. Then there are games with 2D gameplay: Shadow Complex is a recent example of a game that preserves the essence of 2D gameplay while making the leap to 3D polygonal graphics. I'd also include Wolfenstein "3D" in the titles with 2D gameplay, because you never had to worry about moving, looking, or shooting up or down.