When mobile game systems first started getting more powerful, the first thing that got really exciting was the number of colours the systems were capable of displaying. Back in the era of Gameboy Color, we got colour games in our pockets for the very first time. Before then everything was shades of grey (who else owned a Gameboy Pocket?). Then Gameboy Advance came out with range of colour that blew me away. The colours were rich, and a lot of games had a great anime and cartoon feel to them. When the Nintendo DS came out though, 3d games first started coming out, these games tried to replicate the 3d environments found in console games and computer games. Most of these games looked terrible.
Still now there are mobile games for the DS coming out that are fully 3d, but just look horrible. The DS can do 3d, but games just look so much better 2d. Some games even do a great job of being a 2d game with a 3d perspective. Those games are basically 2d, but play and look better, and they capture the key benefits that they would have had as 3d ones without all the drawbacks.
People my age grew up for a long time with each new console being a new level of possibility to the games. At the time, SNES was dramatically better than NES, and when N64 came out, even 3d that was bad was fun, because it was so new at the time. 3d eventually became the mode.
When I think about games, applications, websites, social networks, devices, I think about how different things got popular, but sometimes never any good: Motion control is becoming the norm for video games, 3d televisions, streams and social activity for websites and applications, capacitive touch screens for mobile phones, tablet computers, and e-readers.
During this time, 2d video games have become nostalgic, and when I find ones I like see the are in the more, in the good ones I can notice the signs of the care and thought that were put into them.
In the end I think most products could do with less attention for what's new, what's popular, and more focus into the elements, and qualities that matter.
Inspired by A smartphone retrospective: http://www.marco.org/980434663