Metroidvania The Genre Of Games
Earlier in the year we began posting about various video game genres. Some of those genres have been rather straight forward, while others have been an amalgamation of multiple genres. Today’s genre is different instead of two genres coming together to for a new genre. Instead this genre comes from two video games, I’m referring to Metroidvania. For those of you not aware the Metroidvania genre gets its name from the Metroid series and the Castlevania series.
Metroidvania two franchises as a genre.
For starters Metroidvania is not a genre all its own, it’s in fact a sub-genre of the action-adventure genre. While many people consider the original Metroid, which was released in 1986 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. As the game that first pioneered the genre, that said the genre wouldn’t be possible without Castlevania’s contribution. When it comes to Castlevania and Metroidvania, Castlevania Symphony of the Night is the title that many consider to be what really kicked things off for the genre.
As with any video game genre there are certain elements that are common to the genre, and Metroidvania is no exception to this. An element of the genre that stands out is usually the large interconnected map. Of course all areas of this map aren’t accessible from the start of the game. The player will often need certain, or specialized weapons and items to access other areas of the map. This leads to the player in most cases having to backtrack, to areas where he or she has already been.
Many of the items that the player will need to obtain in order to progress through the game, are often protected by a boss character. Once the boss is defeated you get your new item, which will let you have access to parts of the map that were previously inaccessible. Many of these bosses and items that you collect are directly tied into the game’s story. These items often serve as an upgrade of some sort that you will get to keep for the remainder of the game. This allows your character to grow, and this also allows for players to invest in the character much like in a traditional RPG.
Because of the non-linear nature of Metroidvania games players backtrack a lot. The amount of backtracking a player has to do over the course of the game can become tedious especially in longer games. Many games in the genre will incorporate fast travel points. Fast travel points allow players to transverse the map going from point to point without having to cross the entire map. Due to the long nature of the genre, many games include save points. This allows players to play the game at their own pace, since many of these games are long. Playing through them in one setting is often not ideal for many players. Both of these components are vital, other wise Metroidvania games would often be entirely to tedious for most players.
The genre is often presented as a 2D side scroller, there is nothing preventing games from being
presented as something else. So long as the core concepts of the genre are present. A perfect example of this is the Metroid Prime Trilogy, these games kept the core gameplay concepts of the genre. While building a 3D world for the player to explore, while also having the games play out in a first-person view. Much like a first-person shooter, this approach paid off for Nintendo, and it gave the whole Metroid series a much-needed face lift.
The genre is one that’s easy for new gamers to pick-up, this fact has contributed greatly to the genre’s popularity over the years. Thanks to independent developers, recent years has seen somewhat of a resurgence of the Metroidvania genre. This has helped cement the genre’s popularity with both gamers and developers alike. If you’ve never given the genre a try, there’s no time like the present.
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