30 years later, this genre is still unstoppable! Here’s why metroidvania games are now essential

Game News 30 years later, this genre is still unstoppable! Here’s why metroidvania games are now a must

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The metroidvania genre is still very much relevant despite the years. With numerous titles that continue to delight gamers, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

With the recent release of Prince of Persia The Lost Crown, which has received very positive critical acclaim, the metroidvania genre is still very much relevant. This clever mix of action, adventure, and platforming was born from the meeting of Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, two video game classics released in the 1990s. It is composed of several criteria: a “side-view” experience, the exploration of a world with interconnected zones, and the acquisition of powers that allow – eventually – to reach previously inaccessible areas. A formula that has hardly changed in 30 years and doesn’t seem ready to stop.

A genre that can be adapted to your liking

You will understand, this is a genre that has been around for a long time, and yet, it symbolizes the renewal of the Prince of Persia franchise. In an interview with GameRant, the two masterminds behind The Lost Crown mention several inspirations: first, the original Prince of Persia, The Sands of Time (2003), and of course, Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night. According to Ubisoft, the goal here was to build on the metroidvania base and bring “unique” additions. For example, to facilitate the player’s navigation, the developers integrated “Memory Shards”, allowing them to pin a screenshot to the map to remember a still inaccessible passage. There is also a hint system through a little girl that can be encountered throughout the adventure.




30 years later, this genre is still unstoppable! Here's why metroidvania games are now a must

Because yes, despite its almost unchanging base, metroidvania offers great creative freedom, and that’s exactly what the developer of Axiom Verge, Tom Happ, advocates at Game Developer. “I think the genre provides a solid foundation where you can diversify and try new things.” Indeed, the title stands out in many ways. In terms of weapons, there are over twenty available, which is impressive, and unlike Super Metroid, most of them are not necessary for progression and just serve to enrich the combat. But the biggest originality is that Tom Happ added “useful” bugs that can be manipulated with different tools. They are part of this universe that is “falling apart”. The title is known to be largely inspired by Super Metroid, even in its graphics, yet its creator is not lacking in imagination.


30 years later, this genre is still unstoppable! Here's why metroidvania games are now a must

This approach has been successful in the genre’s successes. Drinkbox Studios, the developers of Guacamelee!, understood this and every member of the team wanted to add their own touch – so much so that they describe their game as a “Frankenstein”. For example, “someone wanted to make a Beat’em up, while another wanted to make an exploration game”, as can be read on GamingTrend. Focusing on difficulty and very precise action gameplay, as in Hollow Knight and Blasphemous, is another lever. So much so that sometimes it is referred to as “Soulsvania” – a combination of metroidvania and Souls-like (games inspired by Dark Souls).

In short, with “not much” and well-established codes, creators can do whatever they want, which is why the genre is successful among independent developers. Today, there are even “turnkey” solutions for creating metroidvania games. Tomasz Chabora, a Polish developer, has created “metroidvania System”, an open-source toolbox with everything needed to create a game of this type.


30 years later, this genre is still unstoppable! Here's why metroidvania games are now a must

It’s all about exploration

Furthermore, metroidvania allows something that seems incompatible with 2D (and therefore with horizontal scrolling): exploration. This is the element that led the developers of The Lost Crown to choose this genre. “In Prince of Persia, immersion in a world is central, the ability to explore and travel freely through various biomes seemed important and respectful of the freedom we wanted to give to players,” can be read on GameRant.


30 years later, this genre is still unstoppable! Here's why metroidvania games are now a must

Even for Koji Igarashi, the father of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, “exploration is very important”. “This allows players to roam the map, take their time. This seems important to me, and everyone can enjoy it,” he explains on Le Monde. For the Japanese creator, it is also a way to create longer adventures, breaking with the side scroller of the time.

An exploration in the service of progression. In a metroidvania, you gradually acquire new skills and then retrace your steps to access new areas. A loop necessary for the two men at the helm of the Prince of Persia project: The Lost Crown but which, according to them, can change in the future to “evolve the genre”.

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