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Marvin Morris

What is Metroidvania?

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For the past 12 months I’ve heard this phrase over and over.

 

What makes a game Metroidvania?

 

is it something to do with a cross between Metroid and Castelevania? But I never played either of games so wouldn’t know what is meant by that either!

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You go from point A to point B but while doing so you come across point D which is only accessible when you've been to C and done the quest from point B that leads back into A where you get the ability to open F, which in turn routes back into D. Repeat this about thirty times, add water, mix and you've got yourself a Metroidvania! 

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I do take a small issue with the term metroidvania. The vania comes from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night being an action-RPG that uses metroid world design as a template, however people just call the genre metroidvania even when a game lacks the Castlevania aspects. We even see the metroidvania tag given to games that take inspiration from titles that existed before metroid with many Metroidvania games using the kind of design that existed in the adventure games of the 8-bit micro computers.

I might expand on this later Metroidvania and "Souls-like" are two terms that are being heavily thrown about at the moment, especially by indie studios.

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It's when you see something that is clearly a game mechanic early on in a game, but you can't do anything with it (it could be a cracked wall, or an iron railing, or a distinctive shiny metallic obstacle). Then you realise with creeping horror that at some point later on in the game you will acquire a new ability or weapon that will allow you to interact with this thing, and that it will open up a new area. If like me you have almost no memory WHATSOEVER for things like this, you then pray to whatever deity you believe in that the developers have decided to add this info to the map, because otherwise you're spending the rest of the game cross-referencing what you're doing with gamefaqs or youtube, because the chances of you finding them again are next to nothing.

 

Edit: It's a nice mechanic when used sparingly. It's not used sparingly.

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54 minutes ago, Dig Dug said:

I do take a small issue with the term metroidvania. The vania comes from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night being an action-RPG that uses metroid world design as a template, however people just call the genre metroidvania even when a game lacks the Castlevania aspects. We even see the metroidvania tag given to games that take inspiration from titles that existed before metroid with many Metroidvania games using the kind of design that existed in the adventure games of the 8-bit micro computers.

I might expand on this later Metroidvania and "Souls-like" are two terms that are being heavily thrown about at the moment, especially by indie studios.

 

I guess it's no worse than people abusing the term rogue-like.

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1 hour ago, VN1X said:

You go from point A to point B but while doing so you come across point D which is only accessible when you've been to C and done the quest from point B that leads back into A where you get the ability to open F, which in turn routes back into D. Repeat this about thirty times, add water, mix and you've got yourself a Metroidvania! 

 

That just sounds like a bad dream.

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I just had a thought. Metroidvania isn't a trademark, nobody has copyright on the term... Any random dickhead could just make a game called Metroidvania.

 

EDIT: It doesn't even need to be an actual metroidvania. You could make a fucking tower defence game and just call it "Metroidvania".

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My own personal interpretation was sort of like - a game that gates progression through the acquisition of abilities (the metroid bit) and nurtures character development through RPG-style customisation and levelling (the post-Symphony bit.) Although I just came up with those words this minute, so it's not like I've had a fixed definition in my head or anything.

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3 hours ago, VN1X said:

You go from point A to point B but while doing so you come across point D which is only accessible when you've been to C and done the quest from point B that leads back into A where you get the ability to open F, which in turn routes back into D. Repeat this about thirty times, add water, mix and you've got yourself a Metroidvania! 

 

In side on 2D, otherwise you've just described everything from Zelda to Resident Evil.

 

I always thought this...

 

3 hours ago, Dig Dug said:

I do take a small issue with the term metroidvania. The vania comes from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night being an action-RPG that uses metroid world design as a template, however people just call the genre metroidvania even when a game lacks the Castlevania aspects. We even see the metroidvania tag given to games that take inspiration from titles that existed before metroid with many Metroidvania games using the kind of design that existed in the adventure games of the 8-bit micro computers.

I might expand on this later Metroidvania and "Souls-like" are two terms that are being heavily thrown about at the moment, especially by indie studios.

 

...though the Wikipedia page linked somewhere about basically describes Metroid, and states that the vania bit comes from a game that was released 3 generations after Metroid and adds nothing to their definition...

 

Certainly the things these terms  seem to have in common is them not being used as originally intended. I think the reason for this is the reason we tend not to stick games into specific genre now. Games have evolved and plenty try to do something new.

 

I tend to read them like this nowaday...

Metroidvania: collect new abilities items to open new areas.

Souls-like: hard and death /retrying is expected and normal.

Rogue-like: procedurally generated rooms.

 

 

 

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Doesn’t need to be side on and 2D. Arkham Asylum is a Metroidvania.

 

There’s much more to roguelike than just procedurally generated rooms too!

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Permanent death is also a defining feature of roguelikes.

Metroid is a term that can be termed very loosely depending on what aspect of Metroid you want to focus on. By some definitions Resident Evil is a Metroid based on its map design.

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Metroidvania games are unsuccessful attempts to copy Super Metroid such as Hollow Knight and Dead Cells. 

 

Rather than calling them Metroid rip-offs, the term Metroidvania was coined because some dolt thought Castlevania and Metroid were similar, even though Castlevania isn’t fit to lick Metroids boots. 

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Jeremy Parish recently recommended 12 modern Metroidvania games here at https://www.polygon.com/features/2018/10/10/17952674/the-12-best-indie-metroidvania-games

 

It even has a useful summary.



“Metroidvania” may be an irritating word that sends many people into paroxysms of rage, but that doesn’t make it any less useful a word. When someone says “metroidvania,” you know exactly what they mean: A 2D platformer based around exploration and character progression, built in the style of Metroid and the latter-day Castlevania games.

The latter-day Castlevania games, of course, were the “true” metroidvanias — that is to say, Castlevania games that borrowed liberally from Metroid’s style. Shockingly enough, it’s been 10 years since the release of the last of these, 2008’s Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. The lead creative mind behind the metroidvania line, Koji Igarashi, will be delivering a spiritual follow-up next year in the form of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night ... but let’s be honest, a decade and change is a long time to go between fixes.

 

He's also got a video series exploring the roots of the genre.

 

 

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