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Video Game Franchises That Transitioned The Best From 2D To 3D

As gaming has evolved, many genres that started out in the pixilated 2D style that many players remember has been replaced with 3D graphics. These changes may take the franchise away from its retro feel though some players would argue that bringing many of these titles to the 3D has been for the best.

Related: Games That Would Be Amazing In The HD-2D Style

With so many well-known titles taking this jump across generations, it is impossible to mention them all. Though these franchises are by far the ones that transitioned the best from its flat 2D world to the paradises of the 3D where it has maintained its fan base.


10 Ninja Gaiden

The original Ninja Gaiden first released as a hack-and-slash platformer title on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1988 where it was well received by both those in Japan and across the rest of the globe. Although many players complained about its difficulty overall the game was a great success.

It continued to be a 2D title until 2004 where it was released under the same name of Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox with 3D graphics. Although it wasn’t as good as a hit in Japan this 3D title based on the originals did magnificently in the States, where it has continued its success since.

9 Fire Emblem

This fantasy tactical role-playing game has managed to not only evolve from its 2D pixel graphics but also implement it into its recent games. Fans of the series would know that the original games could only be played on a top-down in a pixilated world.

The title has kept some of its pixel sprites while implementing 3D graphics alongside it such as in Fire Emblem Three Houses where the player could freely walk around the academy in their students learned in. While also allowing the battles between units to be witnessed.

8 Grand Theft Auto

Many players of Grand Theft Auto 5 would be shocked to learn that this action-packed franchise first started with 2D graphics as well as being played in a completely different way. In the original GTA players would control their player from a top-down view that although sold well was criticized for its difficult controls.

Related: Great 2D Platformers On Steam That Deserve More Attention

The title then brought the camera down to a third-person view from over the shoulder and fleshed out the cities players could explore. Switching to 3D during Grand Theft Auto 3 made the title even more popular with no sign of it returning to its 2D routes any time soon.

Even titles that are as successful as Metal Gear began its success through 2D graphics. This overhead military title was known for how it had popularized the stealth genre back in 1987, where players would control Solid Snake as he attempted to infiltrate a base to destroy the war machine named Metal Gear.

Since then, the creator of the series Hideo Kojima has gone on to direct its evolution from a simple retro title to an award-winning franchise that not only shifted to the 3D but expanded across genres.

6 Doom

The original Doom title bridges a gap between 2D and 3D as the first-person shooter itself is a 2D game generated to look 3D. Many of the enemies are two-dimensional shapes that can only be seen from the front. This in itself was incredibly advanced for its time, working off the praises of the recently released Wolfenstein 3D at the time.

Eventually the title got an official 3D release that was enjoyed by players, this eventually led to the creation of Doom Eternal with its incredibly intense and gory gameplay with many hoping for another.

5 The Legend Of Zelda

A classic like the Legend of Zelda has managed to stay afloat across countless Nintendo platforms for many generations. This has only been possible through not only continuing the story but adapting, not only artistically but also through switching to a 3D generated world.

Related: Smartest Nintendo Characters Ranked

In recent years, this popularity has increased with the creation of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild where players were given the freedom to explore a vast open world entirely in 3D as their favorite blonde-haired protagonist, hoping to save the world.

4 Final Fantasy

Similarly, to the success of titles like The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy has countless games available for players to try, with well over fourteen different games available. Although it has changed platforms as well as graphics the way it plays for the majority of the franchise has remained the same, for many players’ enjoyment.

Since the original, and the creation of 3D versions of the franchise, Final Fantasy has also gone on to make enhanced remakes of some of its classics, improving on their already 3D graphics or bringing their older 2D titles into the light.

3 Pokemon

Up until the 3DS, the original Pokemon series remained in its position of 2D graphics, allowing players to explore a world of tiny creatures to capture and battle in an adorable art style. Nintendo finally decided to experiment with the release of this console allowing the player to see the world from a different angle during the creation of Pokemon X and Y.

Related: Every 3D Sonic Game, Ranked (According To Metacritic)

Since then the games have continued to keep with this 3D stile, and have even attempted to remake old copies of the title such as Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire in this new and improved graphic style.

2 Mortal Kombat

Even the fighting genre has seen the changes of time with the popular title Mortal Kombat receiving a revamp in design through the use of 3D graphics. The once popular arcade game gradually evolved to be played easily on home consoles till it was eventually given its own 3D graphics putting these consoles to the test.

However, Mortal Kombat 4 may have been the last title to get an arcade release but the first of its kind to have 3D graphics. Since then the details of not only the characters but the much-loved brutalities have improved with this change.

1 Mario Bros.

No player would be surprised that one of the most successful series in gaming was happily assisted through its change from 2D to 3D. The original Mario Bros. is almost unrecognizable compared to what the franchise looks like now.

With the original platformer being transformed into the 3D as well as its other games such as Mario Kart joining the ranks. Many players would agree that Mario and his friends have the power of 3D graphics to thank for their long reign, as it now looks to other means of technology to rule.

More: Best Levels In 3D Mario Games

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