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Isometric Projection

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Looking down on City Name.

From The Other Wiki: Isometric projection is a form of graphical projection, more specifically, a form of axonometric projection. It is a method of visually representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions, in which the three coordinate axes appear equally foreshortened and the angles between any two of them are 120 degrees.

In layman's speak, it's a way of faking perspective by squashing the vertical axes, thus forcing perpendicular angles to look wider. Also, close up objects appear the same size as distant objects.

In the days before true 3-D graphics, isometric projection was one of the ways artists suggested depth. Developed and formalized in the 19th century for technical and architectural drawings, it remains a popular way of creating 3-D-esque graphics in video games, especially for handheld systems.

Of course, in many cases in video games, the projection is not actually isometric in the mathematical sense, because a 26.57° slope is much easier to draw on square pixels than a 30° slope.note  But that would be nitpicking, so these games are called "isometric" anyway. The term can also refer to the vastly different Trimetric Projection (such as in Fallout and Fallout 2 or SimCity 4), where all three angles are different.

The weakness of Isometric Geometry is that the same sort of line can be either distance or height, or even both in some cases. Usually, it's easy to tell; but no proper Penrose staircase could be built without this concept.

See also Top-Down View, Side View and Three-Quarters View.

Video game examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Game 

    Action Adventure 

    Adventure Game 

    Maze Game 

    Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game 


    Platform Game 

    Puzzle Game 

    Racing Game 

    Real Time Strategy 

    Role Playing Game 

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Desert Strike (and by extension, the rest of the Strike series)
  • Future Spy (similar to Zaxxon, except it has different controls and a different setting)
  • H.A.T.E.: Hostile All Terrain Encounter
  • Highway Encounter
  • Return Of The Jedi (arcade game by Atari based on the movie)
  • Viewpoint
  • Zaxxon and Super Zaxxon

    Simulation Game 

    Sports Game 
  • The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive FIFA Soccer games
  • The Microsoft-published NBA Full Court Press, developed by Melbourne House
  • WWF Wrestlemania Challenge
  • Zany Golf

    Stealth Game 

    Strategy Game 

    Survival Horror 

    Third Person Shooter 

    Tower Defense 

    Turn Based Strategy 

    Other Media 
  • Several Comcast commercials feature people driving around in an isometrically projected city/town, most likely in Homage to SimCity 2000.
  • M.C. Escher used isometric projection to create many of his iconic Alien Geometries. The same sort of line can be used for height and distance in an Isometric Projection, and so Escher used the same line to represent both — and left which one to the ever-shifting context.
  • Homestuck: The early acts make significant use of this; in particular, the kids' houses are mainly displayed in faux 3D, displayed from an angle centered on a corner of the room being shown, in a manner meant to mimic pseudo-3D game graphics common around the 2000s. This fades over time as video game elements go out of prominence, however; later scenes are mainly depicted in straightforward 2D art.
  • Japanese DJ Halfby's music videos by Groovisions use isometric projection. See here, for instance.

Alternative Title(s): Iso Metric