Have you heard of the Metroidvania video game genre and wondered what it is? Maybe you’ve never played a Metroidvania game before, or you’re curious about what makes a game a true Metroidvania.
Let’s go through what a Metroidvania game is, what features it typically has, and what distinguishes it as a genre.
What Is a Metroidvania Game?
A Metroidvania game, in general, is one with a linked, open-ended landscape that demands you to explore and gather permanent powerups in order to proceed in a non-linear way. This is handled differently in each Metroidvania, although it is the main emphasis.
Metroidvania is a subgenre of the larger action-adventure genre. They vary from simple 2D platformers in which your aim is merely to complete specific levels.
What Does “Metroidvania” Mean?
Metroidvania is a combination of two video game franchises: Nintendo’s Metroid and Konami’s Castlevania. The genre originated with games from these franchises.
Metroid, published in 1986 for the NES, was the first big game to incorporate the trademark open-ended exploration. Later, on the SNES in 1994, Super Metroid updated many of those themes and became one of the most popular games of all time.
Meanwhile, early Castlevania games on the NES and SNES were level-based platformers that played differently from Metroid. The word “Castlevania” was introduced in 1997 with the release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the PlayStation. This game, like many following Castlevania games, has non-linear level design, with obtaining power-ups allowing you to explore more of the area.
Despite the fact that they both gave rise to this genre, Metroid and Castlevania are not the same. In immersive settings, Metroid tries to emphasize a feeling of solitude. In contrast, Castlevania games offer deeper combat and some light RPG components such as a range of weapon options, consumable consumables, and character attributes.
What Makes a Game a Metroidvania?
If you’ve never played a Metroidvania game, the components may seem hazy. While not every game in the genre has the same set of features, there are recognizable key themes that you can detect.
Metroidvania games, as previously said, use non-linear exploration. This means you don’t just go from level one to level two; you’re dumped into a big environment and must find out how to proceed.
Because the game environment is frequently divided into many parts, most Metroidvania games include a comprehensive map to help you figure out where you are. You’ll need to go back to earlier places to employ your new powers to reach previously inaccessible passages. Metroidvania games sometimes have teleporters or shortcuts that become accessible with new items to reduce tiresome retracing.
There’s also more to discover than only the materials necessary for development. Most Metroidvanias have secrets that allow you to obtain more health, new weapons, and other benefits. You are rewarded for your excellent vision.
Progression is usually obtained through collecting objects around the globe. For example, you may stumble upon a green door that your current weapons are unable to open, forcing you to investigate elsewhere. Then, after you’ve discovered an enhanced weapon in another region, you may use it to unlock all of the green doors you’ve seen across the planet.
What’s more, the upgrades you discover are more useful than simple keys. Instead of obtaining an item, utilizing it to unlock one door, and never touching it again, your improvements have multiple beneficial sides. For instance, finding an uppercut move will not only give you more options in combat, but also provide extra height on your jump to reach new ledges.
You’re encouraged to keep track of the world as you play a Metroidvania. You might remember a room with a gap that was too large for you to jump over, then once you find an item that lets you double-jump, have a “aha!” moment as you realize that area is now accessible. The Metroidvania gameplay loop revolves around using these new items to explore more of the world until you reach the end.
Variable Elements of a Metroidvania
While the above are all key aspects of a Metroidvania, the way that developers approach design specifics varies among titles. Some games, like Hollow Knight, feature almost no guidance and force you to explore on your own. Others, like Metroid Fusion, provide a waypoint showing where you need to head next.
So you don’t go too lost, some Metroidvanias only provide you a limited paths to take and lock you within certain regions until you discover the next essential item. Others allow you to roam freely, which means you may end yourself in a location with adversaries much too strong for your present status and be annihilated.
Metroidvania games are also recognized for their intuitive tutorials. They educate you via gameplay rather than having you read a load of written explanations. This is something that Super Metroid is well-known for.
A Metroidvania’s gameplay style is also not fixed. Many Metroidvanias adopt the shape of 2D platformers, although not all of them. Some Metroidvanias are first-person games (such as Metroid Prime), while others combine aspects of other genres (Dead Cells is a roguelike with Metroidvania elements, and Batman: Arkham Asylum is a 3D action game structured like a Metroidvania).
Metroidvania Sequence Breaking and Speedrunning
As previously stated, in a Metroidvania game, intelligent environment design may silently drive you down the producers’ planned route, even if you have space to explore on your own. However, because of their open nature, Metroidvania games sometimes provide means for the player to gain goods sooner than planned, or to bypass whole parts of the game.
This is known as “sequence breaking,” and it may be either purposeful or inadvertent. It’s this trait that makes the Metroidvania genre ideal for speedrunning. Speedrunners appreciate completing games in as little time as possible by discovering new methods to use current moves or exploiting bugs.
Read more: Fun Speedruns Packed With Hints and Tips
Breaking the sequence may also be a fun way to enhance the difficulty or approach the game in a unique manner.
Explore and Enjoy Metroidvania Games
Both Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night are regarded as among the best games of all time, so it’s hardly surprising that their design would give birth to a new genre. Now that you know what defines a Metroidvania, you’ll be able to locate them in the wild.
Metroidvanias saw a surge in popularity in the 2000s and 2010s thanks to several fantastic independent releases. As a result, there are a plethora of games in this genre to play on current devices.
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