Where Did the 3D Fighters Go?


After looking this year’s Evo lineup again it occurred to me that Pokken is the first major original IP we got for a 3D fighter in a while. Most of the major fighting game releases we had in the last few years have been 2D fighters. As far as major releases are concern I only remember DoA 4 & 5, Tekken 6, TTT2, Soul Calibur 4 & 5and Virtua Fighter 5 and Final Showdown. There were the smaller releases like Samurai Showdown Sen, Girl Fight and Deadliest Warrior. It feels this style of fighter is on life support. They were very prominent during the PS1 and PS2 era. I can’t think of a reason why they fell off the way they have.

What lead to the decline of 3D Fighting games?

Niche genre within a niche genre?

Tekken still does really good numbers from what i understand.


Hmm that is pretty weird when you think about it. Once 3D technology came about. It pretty much became the new standard. Just about every tripple A game is in 3D. With the main exception being the fighter genre. Playing on a 2D plane is still the most popular option. Why is that?


I don’t think it’s 3D gameplay that became standard, but rather 3D graphics using models instead of sprites. Granted, there are some games that still use 2D sprite graphics but still manage to do it really well.


How many 3D modeled games you see operating on a 2D plane? Because unless I’m missing something. Majority of games today are played in a 3D world.


I meant for fighting games specifically. 3D graphics are the norm except for most anime games, but it’s all on a 2D plane. I believe they call it 2.5D when 3D models are used but everything happens on only X and Y axes.


3D graphics isn’t the topic. I’m talking strictly gameplay here.


IMO, 2D fighters are more visually intuitive. Since they’re more about controlling space, you just learn how to do moves and spam them and it looks like you’re playing the game correctly. 3D fighters are more about controlling time (frame data, recovery, etc.) and that isn’t something that’s as easily conveyed visually.


They seem to sell well; Soul Calibur IV pushed 2.3 million copies. SCV did maybe half as much but that’s because Namco are a bunch of idiots who made a new cast instead of just reusing the old one. I think it’s just that they don’t tend to be that great fighting game wise that the community doesn’t really care much for them and the developers who aren’t interested much in the community just make Arena fighters such as the Naruto games instead as they’re more casual friendly


This is actually a really excellent question

one of which i would like to try and attempt to answer but time is against me, but i feel like it’s a gaming problem rather than just a 3d fighter problem


While they share a lot of elements
In a way 2d fighters are more about controlling space
While 3d fighters are more about negotiating space
There are always set boundaries in 2d fighters while the 3d plane is naturally more vast. When you watch 2d fighters because of these set boundaries you focus naturally more on the 2 fighters and how they interact with each other.

This makes the action more consistently enthralling then 3d fighters where you might get visually lost in the stage. Espeically when both players are being patient in neutral. It’s more about Jockeying for windows to constantly reposition for advantage, less about locking down.

Because of all that repositioning there are times where movement while more free tends at times to look inefficient even though almost everything counts at a high level.

Eh more companies need to make 3d fighters even indie fighting games are more 2d based
Smaller companies tend to go for 2d because it’s easier to focus on the characters and just make the backdrop picture for the stage.


Yea i dont see indi devs doing 3D fighters any time soon, people already bitch and whine about how expensive 2D fighters like Skullgirls cost, can you imagine the shit storm if they see the Kickstarter Goals for a 3D fighter? lol.


Honest opinion is the gameplay is less visually appealing. In 2D the matches tend to be more about pressing buttons to try and occupy space and characters often have vastly more interesting move sets. In 3D fighters like SoulCalibur or Tekken a teleport move for example is always bad or combo fodder. You get all excited when you see a cool move your character has then … you find out all his cool moves are garbage and to play at a decent level you have to use only 3 or 4 really basic options. While I won’t complain about footsie’s in Tekken (essentially what most of the game really is) this is just not visually appealing or fun for a new player. As most Tekken heads will say, the game really hasn’t changed considerably game play wise in 20 years.

There have been some good games in the 3D fighters like Fate Unlimited Codes (though that is ancient nowadays 8 years or so) which has 2D game play with side steps. Side step is more for maneuvering against the strong projectiles in the game and dodging only a couple super linear attacks, it doesn’t work against strings since strings are guilty gear like in that they all jail you in. This game is busted on an almost Marvel level, but the game is super anime so never caught on in the West. Mechanically it really is a good, fun, solid game that even went to SBO for at least 1 year. Basically some hybrid between guilty gear and one of the naruto games, but it is legitimately fun and crazy.

Personally I think for a new 3D franchise to catch on it needs to be more about moving around and doing crazy stuff. More about pressing buttons and not trying to find that pixel perfect distance where your d/f+1 whiffs so I can whiff punish. Tekken at Evo the last few years has been incredibly stale for non-tekken heads to watch. The game simply isn’t very entertaining to watch and most people really into Tekken are the old players that have been playing for over a decade. Not to say no new players play it, but the new players are flocking to the cooler looking game they think are more exciting.


have you been bothing with bandai namco? just gonna forget The anime series fighters like Naruto? Jojo? Saint Seiya?

Most 3d fighters have went from traditional 1 vs 1 to the arena fighters style ala J star victory, Gundam vs, Seran Kagure, and many more. Your just not looking.

Digimon All star Rumble

(debatable) Dragon ball Xeno verse

J star Victory

Saint Seiya soldies souls

Street rival

Gang Beats

As for their presence in Evo or fighting game in general. well Its because most fighting games player in the FGC will not touch the game unless its from a well known IP, develoepd by credible developers, or simple told “its a good game” by some other person.

OP be aware the FGC is no where near united, they even have hard time distinguishing between anime fighters and what ever fighter they want to associate 2f series with. With that do not take EVO line up as the definitive FG showcase. While it may have large and strong community that knows thier game, Evo is very secluded its self to only certain games. The FGC expcially in US barly bother with imports or hybride fighters.


That’s what I was saying. in the industry as a whole 3d gameplay became the standard except within the fighter genre. In which 2D gameplay is still the standard. Did you misread what I posted?


I didn’t include Naruto, DBZ and Saint Seiya because those the goal of those games is to simulate the battles of their respective series. Being proper fighting games is a secondary concern assuming if it is one at all.


To be honest there was a reasonably large competitive scene for Naruto Gekitou Ninja Taisen 4 when it came out. It even had its own major Willvolution that drew in over a hundred people from across the country (it was a dark age game 2006-2008), so all things considered had a pretty impressive turnout. Game was legitimately good, then the creators Sakurai’d it so the scene kinda fell out and only the real Naruto heads stayed around.

Honestly a naruto type game (not characters just crazy game play) with a more traditional high/low (2D) or high/mid/low system (3D) system would be cool. I’m not a huge fan of the 3D system because if you get super crazy it can be difficult visually to understand what is going on when you have 3 options. 2D blocking mechanics allow more craziness because you basically decide between high-block/low-block/escape (jump, dp, or back dash traditionally). A lot of Tekken players I know are annoyed with the armored supers in T7. Though to be honest I’m just describing Fate Unlimited Codes system when I say that is what I want … just with sane combo mechanics this time around.


After thinking about it, imo it seems that outside the 4 big names, there have never been too much offerings outside some few games.
Hudson Soft is dead so any chance of seeing a Bloody Roar revival is null, specially with Konami holding the rights of it.
A new Tobal is unlikely to happen, though seeing how Square is working with the Dissidia series as making an arcade version there could be a chance that maybe they will try to start making fighting games again.

I know that a Toshinden game made it to NesicaXLive, but i don’t know if Takara is planning to make new games of the series, since the last one was on Wii.

Other 3d games have been console exlcussive with the companies making them being more or less new to the genre and making it only for filling a void in their lineup games.
There have been interesting games out there like Eretzvaju (Evil Zone) and Def Jam, but most of them have been kinda forgettable.

I know that there are some few indie games out there but as you can guess they have been ignored by the “mainstream” due their obscurity and that by the time of their release not many were really taking pc as a viable place to play fighting games. Perhaps if there were new releases now there could be a chance for them seeing how more players have been adopting pc as a platform for playing fgs.

As for now, it seems that most of the 3d fighting games have been relegated to Anime adaptations for DBZ, Saint Seiya and the like, which sadly not many people will be willing to take them seriously for competitive gameplay. It doesn’t help that outside the obvious balance issues those games devitate heavily of many conventions from the traditional 3d fgs.

Theoretically, making a 3d fighting game is less expensive than doing a 2d game.
Skullgirls had that kind of cost due the type of animation that they were using for their characters.


I completely forgot about the Ninja Taisen. I had the Ninja Storm games in my head when I made that post. Ninja Taisen 4 got a lot of play at Nintendo World when it had a station there. I would like to see another Naruto game like that.


I miss the late 90s when companies were experimenting with 3D fighters as well.

Remember when we had games like Destrega or Psychic Force?