Left in the shade
Left, right, jump, push, pull. As far as mechanics go, they are some of gaming's oldest conventions. In its 2D salad days little else was needed to captivate players the world over. But then 2D almost did a Dodo around the mid-1990s, as developers migrated from the plane to the shiny new third co-ordinate.
Rock and Roll
2D survived, thankfully - even flourishing on the handhelds. But despite continued success in beat-'em-ups and occasional side-scrolling classics like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Gradius V, it remained firmly on console gaming's endangered list, always struggling to convince gamers of its merits over the bells-and-whistles of 3D.
Over the past couple of years there's been something of a 2D revival. Titles like Shadow Complex and Braid have lured gamers back to the flat dimension with a maturing of gameplay and themes, HD visuals and, most importantly, budget price points.
Get ready for the drop
The latest proof of this renaissance is Playdead's new puzzler, Limbo, the first title in Microsoft's 2010 Summer of Arcade line-up. Likely to win fans as much for its unique aesthetics and ambiance as for its mind-bending blend of traditional 2D conventions and real-world physics, Limbo is a near-perfect tiny epic – one whose greatest beauty is that you'll finish it as perplexed as when you started it.