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iPhone: Do graphics really matter?

View Poll Results: Which is better graphics-wise for games? 2D or 3D?
2D - give me some sidescrolling action! 13 15.85%
3D - console-quality, baby! 19 23.17%
Neither. I just want a good lookin' game! 50 60.98%
Voters: 82. You may not vote on this poll
03-12-2009, 11:08 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: inside my iTouch
Posts: 91
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Do graphics really matter?

Please note that I am only talking graphics-wise, so if you argue that a 3d game is way better because it incorporates many more gameplay elements and allows more than a 2d game, it's not for this thread. But I would also like to state that there is a difference between how they play, and that this is not what I am discussing.

Recently, while playing with some of my newest apps, I noticed a trend in some of them. The art style started resembling less of an atrocious iphone menu and more of a unique flash web game style, giving it a very comfortable look (in my opinion). I love games like Zombieville USA and Smiles! that make use of effects on the menu and a very comfortable and easy to look at art style. If a dev goes 2d on a game, I really enjoy the cartoony look for most of them. And the dev of all the Bii games (Biiball etc...) has a very well made cell shaded look to all of his games that I really admire. Toy tanks 3d has also exceeded my expectations with some insanely good cell shaded graphics. In 3d, cartoony works well too, but it also gives developers a whole new way to draw a player into the game. With 3d, the atmosphere is very boxy, and I think that even with Unity dev, alot of people are still making games that just look plain ugly. Despite this, developers still come out with great games, some of which are even multi-tiered! (Pocket God). In fact, I think that the 2d games on the app store are better, because the developer actually works harder on the 2d than the 3d because the art matters much more for it. For me, i just love a good cartoony looking game. I also admire the art style of iDracula for being able to make fun of itself and still make its antagonist look like a serious van helsing badass. Despite the fact that people "claim" the most important thing in games is the actual gameplay, I can't help but love a game that does justice in the graphics department. Of course, you can't forget that it is also limited by the iPhone's power to create good-looking games. BIA and HOS have some great graphics, but compared to any psp (maybe even ds) games, its characters look ugly. But even so, I do still really enjoy 3d games and I hope that someone will be able to push the limit even further. What do you think? Also, which is better, 2d or 3d for games?

iMafia = kindred --- Mafia live! code is 538040331
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Last edited by KindredSpirit; 03-12-2009 at 11:35 PM.
03-12-2009, 11:55 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 430
Graphics matter, it just has to be done right.
3D and 2D are fine. But it really has to match the game itself. Hero of sparta going 2d would not look good.

For grab and go games, I think it would look better with 2D.

3D games and 2D games are tied.
I love Zombieville for 2d.
Fastlane and ferrari GT has great 3D. Same with hero of sparta and Brothers in arms but it's jagged. But still good.

Last edited by iKoda; 03-13-2009 at 12:01 AM.

03-12-2009, 11:56 PM
I've always thought that graphics do matter. The term "video game" encompasses both the visuals and mechanics involved. Thus, the best "video games" have great graphics and mechanics. In the long run it's the gameplay that keeps you coming back but if you have the same gameplay with better graphics that makes for a better "video game".
03-13-2009, 12:00 AM
Originally Posted by Midnight Status View Post
I've always thought that graphics do matter. The term "video game" encompasses both the visuals and mechanics involved. Thus, the best "video games" have great graphics and mechanics. In the long run it's the gameplay that keeps you coming back but if you have the same gameplay with better graphics that makes for a better "video game".
Hmm, what about PS3 like graphics with horrible gameplay vs a game with so so graphics and insanely fun gameplay? Does the glorious rockin graphics of the first game trump the second as a better video game or does the second one with what some would say "substandard graphics" win?

GAMEPLAY will always have the upper hand with me personally. Scoops does not have the greatest graphics in the world but let me tell you..it is in my top five of my favorite idevice games! I would give a lot to have my NES and Super Nintendo back with 8 and 16 bit graphics because those games were FUN. Now, if a game has BOTH great graphics AND fun gameplay, well then you got a double winner!

That's just my .02
03-13-2009, 12:00 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: NYC
Posts: 902
It plays a part; in some games more than others.

From consoles, I expect great graphics because I can know the systems could achieve that with good effort from devs and without sacrificing other aspects of the gameplay. In iDevices and other portables, it's a bit of a different story and I know if a game has great graphics, devs might have to cut down in other department to avoid frame rate issues and such.
03-13-2009, 12:04 AM
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 4,491
I say neither. A game can't be judged on how pretty it is.

as long as the core gameplay is there then the game is good. Graphics are only there to create an aesthetic.

Games like Eliss, ODE, Galcon, PacMan, Missile Command, Asteroids, Lunar Lander, etc. All games that are damn fun to play even though their graphics are bare bones.
03-13-2009, 12:21 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 4,152
I used to think that game play was all that mattered, but lately I've come to realize that it really depends on the game. For instance, there's an old text adventure game called Suspended (I won't get into the details - Google it ) that just wouldn't work with graphics. And I mean any kind of graphics, good or not. It was one of the most innovative games I've ever played, I might add. On the other hand, I tried the iPhone port of the old Atari game Adventure, and I removed it from my device after playing it for just a minute or two. There might be a good game in there somewhere, but the graphics were just "too retro" for me (and it didn't help that the controls weren't great, either).

As for 2D vs. 3D, again it depends on the game and the look you're trying to achieve. I think "scary" is a lot harder to pull off in a 2D environment, where you can't really have things "lurking around the corner". On the other hand, most 3D platform games stink, because while they might look pretty, the mechanics are usually horrible. Now the notable exception to that is a game like Duke Nukem: The Manhattan Project, where it used a 3D engine but the camera was locked in a "2D" view. Not only did it work well mechanically, but it looked pretty durn snazzy.

Aside from DN:TMP mentioned above, I still prefer 2D for the most part. I like the cartoony look that is often employed in 2D games, and it still seems to be the best visual outlet for mobile platforms. That being said, I think if more 3D games could master the cell-shaded look of Dragon's Lair 3D, I might be swayed more towards the 3D camp. Granted, I don't really think I want to see BiA all cell shaded and cartoony, but you get my drift

Eric Pankoke
Mobile Games Reviewer: Rusty Sabre, TouchMyApps
Blog: iPhone Life
Twitter: RustySabre
03-13-2009, 01:06 AM
I'm a fan of 2D on iPhone. Obviously 3D works great on PC and consoles, but I'm not sold on it for iPhone. I played Sparta, which I enjoyed, but it does look 'muddy' at times, and I suspect most 3D games will continue to be like that. I grew up with SNES, so that 'style' of graphics is particularly appealing.

I wonder if the 2D/3D divide might be around age-groups -- people that grew up in PS and later prefer 3D, while the 'old' people (haha) are fine with either. Just some speculation. In terms of graphics, Oregon Trail, Zombieville, and Field Runners have been the most impressive for me. Even games like Galcon, which is graphically simple, is pretty to look at.

Graphics absolutely matter for me. That doesn't mean they have to be 3D, but there are some games I just couldn't buy because of the 'amateur' looking graphics.
03-13-2009, 01:23 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,404
I agree, graphics do matter. It doesn't have to be uber polished like Zen Bound, but at least it must be professionally presented. Whether Retro or 2D or 3D, it must be well-considered. All little touches in the buttons, settings page and all also matters. Just look how amateur Nanosaurs 2 looks because of their ugly settings page.

Graphics can't make up for lack of gameplay, but it can kill a good gameplay.
03-13-2009, 01:26 AM
Graphics technology does not necessarily matter but all the bare bones games mentioned have decent art direction. You can have bare bones graphics but still create an aesthetically pleasing visual experience.

It's kind of like this:

videoGame = gameplay ^ graphics;

If you have a terrible game then no amount of graphic detail will help but a good game will quickly become an amazing game with better graphics.

I see this all the time while developing. The gameplay in my early prototypes is identical to the finished product but the tiny details begin to tie it all together. Often times those tiny details are graphical details which help communicate the gameplay to the user. When this occurs better visuals actually lead to better gameplay.