There was a recent article on Joystiq’s [link] about whether or not Metroid Dread is or isn’t in the works got me thinking about something completely different. That I love Metroidvania games!
For those of you who may not know what a Metroidvania (also known as a Castleroid by someone, but I don’t know who) game is, it’s a 2D side-scrolling platformer adventure game with emphasis on exploration. The names Metroidvania and Castleroid are amalgams of Metroid and Castlevania. Specifically because the original Metroid and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest were the originators of the genre. While their successors Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are herald as the formula for all future incarnations of the genre.
Looking over a list of list of Metroidvania games, on Listal.com, also had me noticing something else. Overall, this is a pretty solid genre. Think of any other kind of genre. While these games might have some exceptional titles, they definitely have their share of blemishes as well. While on the other hand, the Metroidvania games are pretty strong overall. With it’s weaker title not being below subpar, but being considered average at worse.
Unfortunately, with the 2D Castlevania games firmly grounded on the handhelds there aren’t really a lot of these type of games on the console systems. Part of the problem is the misconception that Metroidvania games need to be sprite based, and sprite based games don’t always sell so well, because they exist in a 2D world. While games like Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade demonstrate that 2D games with sprites can be works of art, just because it’s 2D movement that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be a 2D game. Games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Street Figher IV clearly demonstrated that 3D games can exist on 2D rails and still be awesome.
The other problem is that publishers don’t think they’ll sell. Granted I’m not sure how well a Metroidvania game would do with a full release on disc format. Especially, with the amount of development time that would have to go into the project and potential monetary losses. But games like Shadow Complex showed that there is definitely a place for this genre in the world of DLC (downloadable content) and there is also lots of money to be had in it as well.
To summarize: I love this genre, I want to see more of this genre and I think it’s a good idea as well. I think this is definitely an area that I would like to see some of the up and coming indie developers focusing on, but then again I bet a lot of them already are.