Back From the Second Dimension (Feature Story)

Everything old has a good chance of eventually being new again, assuming it’s beloved by enough 18-35-year-old (even magazines!). That’s no surprise to gamers who grew up seeing their favorite 2D mascots and series reinvented with each new console generation, but a growing trend reverses that progress by booting updated franchises back to their 2D roots.

From New Super Mario Bros. to Street Fighter IV, Bionic Commando: Rearmed to Mega Man 10, 2D gaming isn’t just back — it’s acting like the last 15 years never happened. Sega is the latest on the time-traveling bandwagon, with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 set for release this summer.

Sonic 4 is a typical example of what you could call the “2D revival.” It features a classic character, old-school 2D gameplay, modern 3D graphics, tons of fan-service, and – the key distinction — it’s not just any “new 2D Sonic” but the canonical sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 3. “With Sonic 4, the approach we’re taking is, if we were doing new Genesis games today, what would they look like?” explains Ken Balough, Sonic brand manager at Sega. “And essentially that’s where we get Sonic 4. It’s 2D, but it’s got that modern look to it.”


(Note: Full article published in the premier relaunch issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, #238)

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