Types of Fun 2D Games

By Stephen Andrew Baldwin

Updated September 22, 2017

2D games typically only had 8 degrees of movement at most, while modern controllers typically offer two different analog sticks.
i video game control pad image by Paul Hill from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Video games in their earliest form didn’t have dimension at all. In fact, the earliest video game system, the Magnavox Odyssey, simply moved a dot around on the screen to be used in conjunction with television overlays. The following decade would give way to Pong and a number of other video game systems that had the capability of displaying graphics that simulated real objects and characters, which was the beginning of 2D video gaming.

Single Screen

Single-screen games were one of the most common for the original Atari. Single screen games are easily identified as each level, or the entire game, takes place on a single screen. Some of the popular single screen games include Frogger, Pac-Man and Dig Dug. Though the difficulty may increase with each level, more enemies and items may appear and the settings and landscape may change slightly, each level is essentially a rendition of the same thing.


Most of the original video-game programming used scrolling technology to simulate movement, where characters and objects didn’t actually move, but rather appeared to because the background would move. These games were very typical of early racing games where the vehicle sat at center screen as did the road. These games typically take on an aerial view as the scrolling is often up and down, like the original Gun Smoke or Heavy Barrel, if they are not open to full 360-degree motion.

Side Scrollers

Side-scroller games are a more specific form of scroller game that move from left to right and/or from right to left. These games are typically broken down into two categories: shooters and walkers. Shooters are games where the purpose is to shoot things, like many of the classic space ship games, and walkers are games where the sole purpose is to get past obstacles. Some of the most popular walker side scrollers are Pitfall, which was also one of the best selling games of the 1980s, and the infinitely popular Super Mario Bros. The Super Mario Bros. series seems to continually reinvent and progress the side scrolling genre with every release since the original, and though some of them aren't side scrollers, there are seven Mario titles on IGN's top 100 games of all time.

Platform Games

Games like Donkey Kong and the original Mario Bros., not to be confused with Super Mario Bros. games on the NES, are examples of platform games. Though they are single screen and side scrollers, the games require players to jump from platform to platform rather than moving further to the right or simply pressing the up button to move in that direction. Other noteworthy platform games are Bubble Bobble and Burger Time.


The adventure game genre emphasizes exploration through a virtual landscape. Adventure games typically present a single screen and offer players the opportunity to move in any four directions: up, down, left or right, any of which lead to a whole new screen. While many of these games often emphasize fighting or collecting items, the 2D adventure games required players to move through a virtual environment and explore castles, towns and landscapes. Adventure games include any of Sierra’s many point-and-click games, The Legend of Zelda, Montezuma’s Revenge and many of the early Atari and Nintendo games.