[[quoteright:349:[[Franchise/SuperMarioBros http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/super-mario-timeline_5092.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:349:And he lost 20 pounds too!]]

->''"People are bored of 2D worlds...this is the age of 3D!"''
-->-- '''King Tezro of Dotnia''', ''VideoGame/ThreeDDotGameHeroes''

This is when a VideoGame series makes the leap from [[BitmapsSpritesAndTextures sprite graphics]] to PolygonalGraphics.

Usually comes in two forms: Total Upgrade, and Presentation Upgrade. The latter changes just the graphics, while leaving the gameplay the same, usually because the gameplay works in both.

The largest portion of video game franchises made the leap during the TheFifthGenerationOfConsoleVideoGames.

Sometimes the upgrade involves a SpritePolygonMix.

The SuperTrope to PolygonCeiling (when the upgrade is poorly received).
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[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Total Upgrade]]
* ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'' was one of the first game series to make the leap in game consoles, and the first to really show what 3D games could accomplish. It was widely praised for its accomplishments, although the gameplay is of a different nature than the 2D games.
** The gameplay of the 2D games was eventually adapted to 3D in a new series that so far consists of ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DLand'' and ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DWorld''. While ''3D Land'' had very limited camera control (you could tilt it slightly towards the left or the right, but it would just snap back into its original position), ''3D World'' lets you change the camera angle with the WiiU [=GamePad=]'s motion control.
* ''VideoGame/XWing'' was perhaps the UrExample, using a 3D engine with great success. In 1993!
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' maintained much of the core gameplay as the 2D ''Zelda'' games (apart from ''VideoGame/ZeldaIITheAdventureOfLink''); just adding its lock-on system was a great way to get around the infamous CameraScrew in so many of these games.
** And the same game got the honor again, with a second upgrade to stereoscopic 3D (what most people think of when they think of, for example, 3D movies) on the 3DS.
* Although ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' skipped a generation, it also got loads of acclaim with its leap, keeping the non-linear adventure [[Franchise/{{Metroid}} the series]] is known for in its change to a first-person perspective.
* The ''Franchise/MetalGear'' series is something of an odd case, as the original ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' was mostly a presentation update with gameplay virtually identical to ''VideoGame/MetalGear2'' (the second [=MSX2=] game), but [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2 each]] [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3 successive]] [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4 sequel]] added new features that gradually turned it into a total upgrade.
* So was ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIII''. While the first games were million sellers, this boosted the series to the top tier of game series.
* ''VideoGame/MegaManLegends'' was an EnforcedTrope for this, since Capcom was told they needed to make a 3D version of this before they could make 2D games for the PlayStation.
** As a consequence, while it's commonly regarded as an excellent game, it's more of an ActionAdventure[=/=]RPG than a run-n-gun platformer like [[VideoGame/MegaMan the main series]]. The main series DID get an actual [=3D=] installment in the form of ''[[VideoGame/MegaManX X7]]'', but it hit the PolygonCeiling, and quite hard at that with the random jumps between camera angles and poor level design.
* ''VideoGame/NinjaGaiden'' leaped, with [[NintendoHard the difficulty preserved]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Shinobi}}'' likewise leaped, and was doubly hard as a result (the ScarfOfAsskicking was a nice bonus too).
* ''VideoGame/PhantasyStar'' is one of the few RPG series to make a full upgrade, since the gameplay was changed from menu based to MMORPG style action.
* ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'' brought ''Franchise/{{Sonic|TheHedgehog}}'' into 3D and had a huge overworld complete with full voiceovers and multiple characters. Depending on who you ask, it also first bumped its noggin on the PolygonCeiling here.
* ''AeroFighters Assault'' was a 3D flight simulation instead of a wacky arcade 2D ShootEmUp like the older games.
* When ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' made the leap, the gameplay changed '''a lot.''' What was an isometric turn-based tactical role-playing game became a sandbox FirstPersonShooter with {{RPG}} elements and many similarities to Creator/{{Bethesda}}'s [[Franchise/TheElderScrolls flagship property]]. The new version has been generally well-received, though [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks grouchy oldschool fans might point out]] that it took so long for the 3D ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' to come out that most people who play it have never played the 2D originals - and despite being set in the same universe, there's little story connection between ''3'' and the 2D games.
** An earlier version from the series' original developers [[WhatCouldHaveBeen would've fit into the latter category]], keeping gameplay nearly the same, but switching graphics entirely to polygonal [=3D=]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' was the first game in the TalesSeries to use 3D battles, although free-range 3D running didn't come until later with ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Lemmings}} [=3D=]'' is pretty similar to the original, but has to add the “turner” skill to compensate for the extra dimension, and also adds devices like teleporters and springboards that weren't in the original (but were in ''Lemmings 2''.) However, it hits the PolygonCeiling fairly hard, and much of the split-second timing crucial to the original gameplay is lost as a result (lemmings can only perform skills in the middle or edge of a tile).
* ''PrinceOfPersia'' changed tremendously, accompanied by a total ContinuityReboot. Of course, the first try was an abject failure, ultimately requiring another reboot to get past the PolygonCeiling.
* ''VideoGame/{{Worms}} 3D'' did a pretty decent job at the previous games' weapon systems and deformable landscape. To some it still hit the PolygonCeiling and wasn't as fun.
* ''VideoGame/DukeNukem3D'' was outrageously more successful than its [[VideoGame/DukeNukemI two]] [[VideoGame/DukeNukemII predecessors]], becoming massively more violent and with the main character's attitude significantly changing at the same time. (Note that this game still used sprite graphics, but had a 3D world.)
* The ''VideoGame/{{Wolfenstein}}'' series switched to a 3D perspective in 1992 under the name ''VideoGame/Wolfenstein3D'', which is frequently pointed to as one of the games that established the first-person shooter genre. (VideoGame/{{Doom}} would be the other common one). Despite the name, Wolfenstein 3D is an aversion as it uses 2D sprites, the leap would be done by ''VideoGame/ReturnToCastleWolfenstein'' in 2001.
* ''[[{{Gradius}} Solar Assault Gradius]]''.
* ''VideoGame/Pitfall3DBeyondTheJungle''
* ''VideoGame/ProjectSylpheed'' is a ''FreeSpace''-style SimulationGame, unlike its InNameOnly predecessors which were vertical {{shoot em up}}s.
* After testing the polygonal waters with ''VideoGame/WarGods'', Midway brought ''MortalKombat'' into the third dimension with its fourth installation.
* ''GrimFandango'' was the first post SCUMM LucasArts AdventureGame. The transition was traumatic to the genre. The 3D graphics were still crude next to crafted and detailed sprites in the late 90s. Grim Fandango suffers from the loss of [[PointAndClick mouse control]] and just moving across the map becomes tedious. All-in-all it was Gamespot game of the year, but it sold so poorly it became a GenreKiller in the minds of videogame producers.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Rayman}}'' series is a [[ZigZaggedTrope very strange]] case. The initial entry in the series was a 2D platformer that underwent a 3D upgrade for the [[VideoGame/{{Rayman 2}} second]] and [[VideoGame/Rayman3HoodlumHavoc third]] entries, while [[VideoGame/RaymanOrigins Origins]] switched back to 2D animation and gameplay.
* ''VideoGame/GuiltyGear 2: Overture'' was a 3D BeatEmUp[=/=]RTS hybrid, a departure from the usual 2D Fighter fare the series is known for. Reactions were mixed, and even then many who didn't dislike this game wanted a 2D fighter.
* ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies'' still retains VisualNovel in the jump to 3D for the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series, but also features 3D investigation scenes that can be viewed at multiple angles, from different vantage points, and actually show a few characters at the scene as opposed to only appearing when you want to talk to them. Especially notable in Case 3 where you have to find pieces of rubble littering the scene; in order to do so you have to use multiple camera angles either from simply rotating the scene to examining objects that could be used as vantage points for further examination and two characters actually being present that can't be spoken to normally.
* Much like ''Mario 64'', VideoGame/PacMan got the ''VideoGame/PacManWorld'' series, which did fairly well.
* ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' tried making the leap [[VideoGame/{{Castlevania 64}} on the Nintendo 64]], but it too hit the PolygonCeiling. The series would keep trying, however, though the 3D titles would be nowhere near as popular as the 2D MetroidVania titles that would also be made alongside the series, at least until ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow'' was released.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Presentation Upgrade]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' doesn't have much that couldn't be done in 2D.
* Creator/{{Nintendo}} has been careful not to shove every series in 3D, and in the case of the ''Franchise/FireEmblem'' and ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi'' series, the developers just changed the graphics.
** The Fire Emblem series did add elevation bonuses to FireEmblemTellius but removed it in later games.
* ''Franchise/DragonQuest'' was even more careful in this regard. ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVII'' only just barely went above being a 2D game with polygons, while ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'' was a full presentation upgrade.
* ''VideoGame/MarioKart'' didn't need much of a change. It used Mode 7 (a hardware kludge to dynamically scale and rotate its 2D background layer, giving the illusion of 3D space) originally, so the visuals were already a convincing simulacrum of 3D. ''VideoGame/MarioKart64'' added elevation to the flat stages (and thus true 3D gameplay, although the practical difference was very subtle).
** This also applies to the ''VideoGame/{{F-Zero}}'' series.
* The first ''VideoGame/{{Klonoa}}'' was a SpritePolygonMix, but the sequel was cel-shaded 3D.
* ''VideoGame/Kirby64TheCrystalShards'' had almost everything rendered in 3D, but kept the gameplay from the rest of [[{{Kirby}} the series]] intact.
** This remains for the later VideoGame/KirbysReturnToDreamLand and seems to be applying to VideoGame/KirbyTripleDeluxe, which also includes a way for Kirby to jump between the foreground and the background.
* ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIV''. Admittedly fighting games with 3D movement outside of dodging rarely work.
** ''VideoGame/TatsunokoVsCapcom'' for CapcomVsWhatever games, getting later followed by ''VideoGame/MarvelVSCapcom3''.
** Technically, even the EX games played primarily in 2D outside of the occasional sidestep maneuver.
* ''VideoGame/GuiltyGear Xrd'' is a 2.5D fighter that uses the Unreal Engine 3 and ditches the sprites in favor of models, but the models themselves are created to imitate the 2D visuals as much as possible, such as emulating the choppy animation and lots of model morphing.
* The ''VideoGame/PokemonStadium'' series, ''VideoGame/PokemonColosseum'', and ''Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness'' still maintain the classic gameplay and an overhead view, with ''Colosseum'' and ''XD'' adding new Shadow Pokémon as well.
** Likewise, in the [[Franchise/{{Pokemon}} handheld main series]]; ''VideoGame/PokemonDiamondAndPearl'' onwards featured [[SpritePolygonMix 3D environments and sprited characters]], with small effects on the overworld gameplay, but the battle system changes were minimal. ''Videogame/PokemonXAndY'' however has everything rendered in 3D graphics, and is the first main series games (not spinoff) to do so. However, they no longer restrict movement to a grid.
** The WiiWare and Gen 5 ''VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeon'' games are rendered entirely in 3D; alterations to gameplay appear to be minimal.
* ''{{Gradius}} IV'' was the same as the earlier ''Gradius'', only in 3D. Same thing for ''{{R-Type}} Delta''.
* Despite going into 3-D, ''WarCraft III'' is still definitely a ''WarCraft'' game--though the jump did allow it to supplement its [[FullMotionVideo FMV]] cutscenes with cheaper and more numerous realtime ones.
** While in 3D, ''{{Starcraft}} II'' has very similar gameplay to the original. As does ''VideoGame/DiabloIII'' to its predecessors. Blizzard does a good job at this it seems.
* The transition to fully polygonal graphics was very natural for ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'', since earlier games were already in sprite-based [=3D=].
* ''VideoGame/{{Lemmings}} Revolutions'' is essentially a pseudo-3D version of the original, although does add extra objects like teleporters.
* The ''{{Myst}}'' series is an interesting example, as its first 3D installment was actually a VideogameRemake of the first installment, with only its MMO spinoff and the main series' final game originating as realtime 3D.
* ''UFOAfterBlank''[='s=] switch to 3D graphics from the tile-based (cube-based?) [[IsometricProjection isometric]] 2D graphics of the prior ''{{X-Com}}'' series actually resulted in most levels becoming ''less 3D'', geometrically speaking, due to engine limitations. This loss of verticality is exacerbated by the lack of flight or destructible terrain.
* Sid Meier's ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} IV'' gives 3D landscape and characters to the franchise, but still plays similarly to the third game.
* The original ''OutRun'', was a "3-D" driving game that used advanced scaling technology (as did other racing games from the mid-late 1980s), so Out Run 2 isn't much of a change, save for the graphics.
* ''SpaceInvaders [[http://www.infinitygene.net Infinity Gene]]'' was originally a 2D ShootEmUp released for the [=iPhone=] which takes the ''Space Invaders'' formula and gradually turns it into a modernised shmup. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VoUvIQiDIY The Playstation Network/Xbox Live Arcade version]] takes the concept to its [[LogicalExtreme logical conclusion]] by implementing 3D levels in addition to the 2D levels. Your ship still moves in a horizontal axis in the 3D levels, but it definitely allows for more creative boss battles.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Syndicate}} Syndicate Wars]]'' gained a 3D engine, but while the ability to rotate the camera and destroy buildings were neat, they didn't really improve the gameplay that much (building destruction was a little weird since they were prone to catastrophic collapse when a car nudged one corner). Also the sharp, hi-res graphics of the original were replaced by blocky polygons with a serious bounce off the PolygonCeiling.
* ''VideoGame/{{Ys}}: The Ark of Napishtim'' uses 3D graphics [[SpritePolygonMix with 2D character sprites]] (except in the PlayStation 2 version, which renders characters in 3D as well), but still has the overhead view of previous games aside from the original version of the third game. ''VideoGame/YsSeven'', is fully 3D, even with character graphics.
* Although the first two ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' games of the GameBoyAdvance already used pre-rendered 3D sprites, ''VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn'' transitioned to actual polygonal graphics, though since the entire series uses more or less the same perspective, the gameplay is mostly the same aside from the option to control the game using the NintendoDS[='s=] touch screen.
* ''ProfessorLaytonVSAceAttorney'' keeps both games' VisualNovel style, but now the characters are in 3D instead of using sprites, as part of the platform shift to the Nintendo3DS.
** For the main series however, ''Franchise/ProfessorLayton'' already made the leap in ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheMiracleMask'', while ''Visualnovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies'' did this for the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series proper.
* While the titular sims original [[TheSims Sims]] game were 3D, the environment they lived in was not. ''TheSims2'' was completely in 3D, and the ''TheSims3'' took said 3D UpToEleven. The core gameplay remains the same, with some added features here and there.
* ''VideoGame/MegaManX 8'' learned from X7's failures and turned the 3D conversion from Complete to Presentation, and the series was much better for it.
* ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxHitTheRoad'' was to have a 3D sequel called ''Sam & Max: Freelance Police'', then Creator/LucasArts cancelled it in 2004, leading to some employees leaving the company to form Creator/TelltaleGames. It took until 2006 for the episodic 3D point-and-click ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxSaveTheWorld'' to be released.
* Once the ''Franchise/{{Atelier}}'' games made the jump to the PlayStation3, they went from a mixture of "strictly 2D" and "[[TwoAndAHalfD 2D character sprites with some 3D environmental elements]]" to "full-on 3D presentation" starting with the release of ''VideoGame/AtelierRoronaTheAlchemistOfArland''.
* ''VideoGame/RaymanOrigins'' and its sequel, ''[[VideoGame/RaymanLegends Legends]]'', share the same style of 2D platforming; however, Legends drops the ThickLineAnimation art style of its predecessor in favor of a TwoPointFiveD, painting-like look with 3D lighting.
* The ''Aliens'' franchise went from ''Alien Trilogy'' (2D-and-a-half world with sprite-based entities) to the full-3D ''AliensVsPredator'', with excellent results.
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' makes most of its games in TwoPointFiveD (the last "fully 2D game" was ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsL'' for the DS), but even in full 3D (as [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha a]] [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsGC few]] [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsNeo games]] [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOE have]] used), the most they really do is make the attack animations involve 3D robots.
* ''VideoGame/RollerCoasterTycoon 3'' added a few things that couldn't be done before in 2D such as riding rides, but for the most part the core gameplay was unchanged. This caused some frustration with fans who were expecting a more sophisticated coaster editor that wasn't restricted by sprite limitations.
* This was the main complaint ''WebVideo/TheAngryVideoGameNerd'' had with the ''UsefulNotes/VirtualBoy''. Despite the system's capacity for "true" 3D graphics, just about all of its games could have been perfectly done in a 2D setting.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Discussed and Conversed]]
* Parodied as ''Website/{{Cracked}}'''s #25 [[http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_388_27-science-lessons-as-taught-by-famous-video-games/ Science Lesson As Taught by Famous Video Games]] which teaches that the third spatial dimension was discovered in [[VideoGame/SuperMario64 1996]].
* Mentioned in the backstory of ''VideoGame/ThreeDDotGameHeroes'', as the kingdom of Dotnia used to be a simple 2D world, which the new king later up-converted from 2D pixels to 3D voxels to try to renew interest in his kingdom.
[[/folder]]
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