Games on Discrete Planes
May 16, 2012 7:28 PM   Subscribe

What video games take place on multiple (but finite/not many) two-dimensional planes?

Some games are played mostly in two dimensions - you walk backwards and forwards and can jump or slide - but allow you to move between planes, usually just front/back or front/middle/back. I think there's a series of fighting games that does this, Guardian Heroes does it, and the earlier Tales games did it in combat.

I'm not really interested in games like Golden Axe, Double Dragon, or brawlers that do take place on multiple planes but not discretely separated ones.

I'm mostly curious if there's a platformer (say, with jumping puzzles) that has tried this, but for now I'm just collecting examples.
posted by 23 to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The recent 3DS downloadable game Mutant Mudds has a few different planes of depth that you can switch between.
posted by Nedroid at 7:34 PM on May 16, 2012

Super Paper Mario for the Wii essentially does this. They advertise it as an ability to go from 2D to 3D mode, but in practice this is done to move to one of a handful of discrete planes and then back into 2D mode most of the time.
posted by meinvt at 7:39 PM on May 16, 2012

Do you mean games with an isometric view?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:39 PM on May 16, 2012

@Cool Papa Bell: Not really. There's a lot of those and it's usually not fundamentally different from a top-down view - I guess it was used to advantage in Landstalker, but that's still pretty close to Zelda.

I'd have a hard time drawing a line to separate some games from others, but I guess I'm looking for games where the primary gameplay model is 2D but having multiple depth planes expands it.
posted by 23 at 7:54 PM on May 16, 2012

Off the top of my head, Fez.
posted by Nomyte at 7:55 PM on May 16, 2012

What about the original version of Excitebike? Each "lane" was a discrete plane — you could only shift between two and couldn't "ride the line".
posted by brentajones at 8:11 PM on May 16, 2012

flOw and Spore have a semi-controllable depth/focus change mechanic when graduating to larger prey or recovering from being preyed upon.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:27 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ilomilo has a mechanic like this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:30 PM on May 16, 2012

The fighting series you're thinking of is Fatal Fury. The early games in the series had a plane shifting mechanic, but the widely-acclaimed final game Garou: Mark of the Wolves did not. If you wanted to check out the best of the games that still had it, look for Real Bout Fatal Fury, Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, and Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, which were all released in a compilation for PS2.
posted by Oktober at 8:45 PM on May 16, 2012

Little Big Planet and its sequel are platform games that take place on three planes, front, middle, back.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:29 PM on May 16, 2012

Bleach: The Blade of Fate on Nintendo DS is a fighting games that has 2 planes you can jump between.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:19 PM on May 16, 2012

I am not sure if you are thinking of something like Viewtiful Joe (Trailer) but that is essentially a 2D platformer that has multiple planes.
posted by hariya at 3:07 AM on May 17, 2012

The game I immediately thought of was Tomba! For the original PlayStation. It was a puzzle platformer where you could hop between the foreground and background.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 4:11 AM on May 17, 2012

Master of Magic was turn-based strategy, unlike any of the other examples, but it did this. So did Civilisation: Call to Power.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:26 AM on May 17, 2012

The New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii has aspects of this. It is a 2D side scrolling game but there are levels where there are for lack of better words to describe it, chain link fences, that you can be in front of behind of. To solve certain levels you need to be able to switch back and forth between the two planes. This is both to avoid enemies (you can safely coexist in the same spot but in different planes) as well as to make it to end of the world (the puzzles require you to switch back forth to avoid a dead end).
posted by mmascolino at 7:40 AM on May 17, 2012

Abe's Oddysee (or maybe just Abe's Exoddus?) had two planes, one very far in the distance. You couldn't move between them directly, but there were doors that went from one to the other.
posted by RobotHero at 10:58 AM on May 17, 2012

Seconding "Little Big Planet" and it's sequel. Three distinct planes of movement.
posted by tacodave at 4:13 PM on May 17, 2012

Sim City, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Transport Tycoon all fit the bill, but there's no player character.

I was thinking of the air/land divide in the Civilization games as being two planes, but they're really not. Fighters and bombers act more as artillery with specialized combat rules.
posted by clorox at 8:37 PM on May 17, 2012

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