You Got Metroid in My Castlevania

Super Metroid HD

You Got Metroid in My Castlevania

by Steve Napierski to Articles

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.

Shadow Complex

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.

Discussion (11)¬

  1. Josh Miller
    Josh Miller says:
    March 12, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    Oh yeah, I’ve played and beaten pretty much all fo the Castlevania and Metroid side scroller games (Metroid got crappy when it went 3D).

    It’s too bad there is such a strong opiniont hat “2D doesn’t sell” among game producers.

  2. BigLord
    BigLord says:
    March 12, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    Metroid other M is said to be a Metroidvania too, albeit with some teeeeeeeeeeeeeny tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny modifications on the gameplay.

    In any case, it should please any fan of a good metroidvania.

  3. Scarlet Pirate
    Scarlet Pirate says:
    March 12, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    I was thinking something completely different with the title. Alucard + Samus = <3 sort of thing. But then again I have a dirty mind.

  4. Kearns
    Kearns says:
    March 12, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    *le sigh*, this is my favorite genre of games, and we get no respect. The fact is that so few of these games are developed, I have thought about purchasing an XBox 360 just to play Shadow Complex…

  5. Steve Napierski
    Steve Napierski says:
    March 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    @Kearns Shadow Complex is definitely one of the best games I have bought for the 360. It’s definitely worth the $15… I mean 1200 points to download. I mean look at all the awards it won: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/s/shadowcomplexxbla/

  6. Twist
    Twist says:
    March 12, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    I really love this genre as well but other than the excellent Shadow Complex the newest one I have played is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (also available on Xbox Live Arcade for those who forgot). Some of the handheld Castlevania and Metroid titles looked great but I hate handhelds because none of them are designed for someone with manly hands like mine. Maybe the new DS will be a bit less cramp inducing, but I would rather just see some of these titles ported to the download services.

  7. Bob
    Bob says:
    March 12, 2010 at 11:35 pm #

    What game is the top screen shot from?

  8. Marth
    Marth says:
    March 13, 2010 at 1:58 am #

    No 2D games on consoles anymore is what pisses me off about the video game industry

    2D > 3D. Get your crappy 3D out of my sidescrollers!

  9. Steve Napierski
    Steve Napierski says:
    March 14, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    @Bob The top image is an artist rendering of Super Metroid in HD. It was done by someone at “alchemistdefined.wiredotaku.com” I removed the credit from the image because that site is no longer active and I didn’t want to promote a link farm.

  10. Taron Millet
    Taron Millet says:
    March 14, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    Metroidvania’s are definitely my favorite genre. So much so, that I actually worked as the main gameplay programmer for one. Its not on that list, but it is definitely a Metroidvania and was names such directly by several reviews. The game was Spider-Man: Web of Shadows DS version. Its not the best entry in the genre, but it averaged close to an 8 in review scores which is pretty good for a licensed game, and I think it did much better than it would have if it wasn’t a Metroidvania because the reviewers really seemed to appreciate that aspect.

    It doesn’t use sprites though, its “2.5D”.

    I really wish (hope?) that Metroid Dread becomes a reality, as I still prefer the side-scrolling versions more than the full 3D games, sprites or otherwise. Never got into Prime much, was may more into the GBA games that came out around the same time.

  11. Taron Millet
    Taron Millet says:
    March 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Oh wait, never mind, it is on that list. Awesome!

    Don’t know what the heck Brawl is doing on there though – Subspace Emissary was a beat-em-up and broken into distinct stages. It didn’t have the key elements of freely exploring a world that you can get to more and more places in by gaining new abilities.