While 2D gaming will always be a favorite of mine, and many other gamers, it's always cool to see the classics from a brand new angle or three. While many preferred the 2D renditions, though, you can't deny that the first step into 3D, for many of these games, was quite a big one. These are the games, at least I felt, that took that well planted step, rather than a dive.

The first two 3D Castlevania titles appeared on the Nintendo 64. The first was Castlevania 64 followed by, in the same year, Legacy of Darkness, which was a continuation of the first game. It was also closer to what the original concept, the developers had, for a 3D Castlevania title. Overall, the transition to 3D went smoothly and the game was well received by fans and critics alike. While it will always be a series that fans like more in the second dimension, Castlevania, one of Konami's most popular game series, doesn't do half bad in the third. A short while later, on the PS2, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence was released and provided another reason why this series wasn't too bad in 3D.

Yet another series that started out in 2D, but quickly went to 3D, Rayman was your typical platformer hero of the late 1990s. Brave, courageous and willing to face any danger to save his realm, world and/or home. Rayman was quite the popular hero, though, and his own transition was one of the more successful. Many devout fans loved the game and fans of the genre grew fond of Rayman 2, as well. With its release to PC, as well as a Nintendo and, their rival, Sega systems.. the game spread across a wide demographic of the gaming population and recieved praise from all.

The blue bomber has always been one for action and the 2D chaos that ensued in each of his adventures were filled with fun and challenging missions. While the formula didn't change much from game to game, it was one that worked, even to this day. But when Capcom announced the step into 3D with MML, I know I was one of the many who were skeptical about it. In the end, though, while it was only one of the few trips into the third dimension Mega Man took, it still proved to be one, of two, great rides.

Another launch title that jumped into the third dimension, Sonic Adventure was a surprise to many gamers. Those that enjoyed the hedgehog's many 2D adventures were curious about how a 3D adventure would work out and those same who were curious ended up being very pleased. While Sonic found his roots in 2D gaming, a few of his runs through 3D truly felt like he belonged. Since then, few 3D Sonic titles have proven to be as successful as SA, and even fewer 2D titles proved to be better than the original.

This had to be one of the best steps into 3D gaming, as it put RPGs on the radar of your average American gamer. It took the fantasy worlds, we all know and love, that Squaresoft created and one that we'll never forget. With CG cutscenes, that advanced an epic story, while conveying it through memorable characters, the RPG masters took their first step toward, with FFVII, creating the blueprint for how RPGs would, and should, be made for generations to come.

Probably the most successful, full fledged, action game to experience the transition, Ninja Gaiden was amazing, not only for this feat, but for just being fun and bad ass game. The original trilogy that hit the NES, in the 80s, was a great trio of 2D platformers and still are revered as such. Again, while this was the first 2D to 3D transition for the series, from NES to Xbox (quite a leap), it served as a revitalization of the series and introduced many to it for the first time. Not to mention, give 'em a taste of the original as an unlockable.

The title that's synonymous with the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 proved to be, partly in my opinion, the most successful transition to 3D for a platformer. The game would go on to become the very blueprint of what nearly every 3D platformer following it would be. It kept with the traditions of old as our favorite Italian plumber would run, jump and bounce off the heads of sentient mushrooms (with fangs, no less) and introduce a slough of other platforming elements that could only be done in 3D. While it wasn't the first 3D platformer, many can agree that it was the most successful.

Yet another series where many were skeptical, they still feel 2D is the way Metroid should be played. While this may be the case for many gamers, myself included, I still feel the Metroid Prime proved to be very successful. The atmosphere Prime generated wasn't unlike that of the 2D Metroid games, though, as it encouraged the player to explore their surroundings and, of course, demanded them to backtrack to access new areas with abilities acquired throughout the adventure. Unlike previous Metroid games, however, Prime told a fairly elaborate and engrossing story, not through dialogue or cutscenes, but through stored data. Sounds a bit odd at first, but it allows the gamer to piece together a story, while experiencing it. Truly a one of a kind experience.

Tactical. Espionage. Action. In the third dimension. This was the game that introduced many to the series for the first time. Needless to say, though, the transition from its NES counterpart was one of the most successful on this list. With superb voice acting, movie-like cutscenes and an atmosphere like no other, this game, along with an interesting cast of characters, allowed you to experience what it was like to be the man, the legend, Solid Snake.

Few other games have had such a smooth transition to 3D AND garnished such praise from so many gamers. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time, and the LoZ series, went from 2D to 3D and back again, all the while generating some of the best titles ever, but few will be remembered and generate as much respect as OoT has. The game is, simply put, a masterpiece combining elements from previous titles, all the while making a name for itself. Sure, it had the feel of a LoZ game, but it was filled with fresh gameplay as 3D revitalized this series for a new generation of gamer.

While some of the transitions were rocky, and their 2D renditions proved to be, overall, much better, their 3D counterparts weren't so bad and, in some situations, amazing. I'll always love 2D gaming, but its always nice to see your favorite hero, or heroin, in a new light, angle and/or, in some cases, dimension.

List by Darker Zen (06/08/2007)

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