Bringing his GDC presentation, "The Light and Dark Sides of 2D Game Production," to a flag-waving close, Konami's Koji Igarashi defiantly declared (via an enthusiastically projected slide) that "2D games will never die!" Though the Castlevania designer's train of thought seemed to switch several times during the talk -- no doubt exacerbated by the wonky on-the-fly translation -- his point eventually emerged as a light at the end of the tunnel.
Igarashi explained that as 3D games grow more complex and require greater effort from artists, 2D games provide an advantage by being easier and cheaper to design. Though he argued that the perspective generally allows players to better judge distance in action games, he was largely focused on the production side of things. Pixel art and backgrounds can be reused throughout multiple titles, he noted, allowing designers to spend more of their time on other aspects of the game.
A unique challenge for modern consoles, however, is adapting to the much higher display resolutions. More on-screen pixels means more detailed art, in which case drawing beautiful 2D assets might become just as strenuous and laborious as creating 3D character models. As such, Igarashi is treating the upcoming 2.5D Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles as an experiment -- can the dynamic presentation of 3D titles and the cost-effective design of 2D gaming get along? We'll find out later this year.
Sony PlayStation Portable PSP-2000
Microsoft Xbox 360