Digital Media Concepts/Metroidvania

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Metroidvania is a type of action-adventure gameplay revolving around exploring an open world styled map, To progress beyond otherwise impassable obstacles, you must fight bosses, collect currency, and upgrade the protagonist. The concept is named for its common usage in the Metroid and Castlevania franchises. While the term most commonly refers to 2D games, it can also refer to 3D games.[1]


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Metriod came out on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1986[2]. The Idea to make the game nonlinear was for the sake of diversity in their game catalogue. With their popular titles having linear levels, with a clear goal and story, and temporary power-ups non stop on the market, They wanted to make a game with a single level that would force players to backtrack, gain permanent power-ups to access more of the planet, and have a complex lore to explain the in's and out's of the world you're exploring. [3]They even made the protagonist female, to clash with all the male protagonists in the market. The game puts you into the mind of Bounty hunter Samus, on a quest to stop space pirates from weaponizing a new parasitic organism called the Metroid. While exploring the planet and the space pirate den, Samus will get upgrades like a dash, ball roll, heat resistance, and super jump. The Game exploded with popularity, for its revolutionary gameplay.

At the exact same time (1986), another game was rising the ranks of popularity. This was Castlevania, a game where a chosen hero single handedly goes on a quest to defeat Dracula. Though the first castlevania didn't have Metroidvania gameplay, future games, like Castlevania Symphony of the Night, released in 1997 on the playstation, with resounding success. Castlevania took influence from Metriod and Legend of Zelda, creating an open world with areas inaccessible until the player gathered the necessary upgrades. The popularity of Castlevania, along with Metriod, created the game genera Metriodvania, and the two continue to influence future games to this day[4]


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  • Hollow Knight, made by Team Cherry in 2017, takes to to the world of hallownest, a world of sentient bugs. Get upgrades like double jump, wall climb, spells, dashes, and nail arts to defeat the Hollow Knight, This game is also a collectathon as you gather charms, fight bosses, and uncover secrets. [5]
  • Ori and the blind forest, made in 2015 by Moon Studios, is another great example of a Metriodvania. Ori and the Blind Forest tells the tale of a young orphan destined for heroics, through a visually stunning action-platformer.[6]
  • Cave Story was made in 2006 by Pixel studios. It was originally a Japanese game, but it got a English adaptation thanks to Aeon Genesis Translations. Cave story is known for it's ground breaking level design, unique gameplay, and its charming story. [7]

Honorable Mentions

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  • The Legend of Zelda: Link to the past is a Nintendo game made in 1992.[8] It and it's remake Legend of Zelda: Link between worlds, made in 2013[9], are the closest when it comes to Metriodvanias, as it's an open world where you get upgrades to explore more of the world. The reason The Legend of Zelda isn't considered a Metroidvania series is because this game was the only one to really crack down on the Metriodvania style. The rest of the games are too linear, or give you everything right after the tutorial.
  • Dead Cells is a Castlevania inspired Rouguelike where you play as a reanimated corpse trying to escape a never-ending loop of death and rebirth. Though there are Metroidvania mechanics in the game, it's primarily a rouguelike, which is level based, instead of open world. Dead Cells instead made it so each level acted like an open world, as future upgrades would allow you to access hidden and harder levels to progress the game.[10]


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  1. "Metroidvania (Concept)". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  2. "Metroidvania". Wikipedia. 2020-09-28. 
  3. "Metroid (video game)". Wikipedia. 2020-10-07. 
  4. "Castlevania". Wikipedia. 2020-10-11. 
  5. "Hollow Knight – An atmospheric adventure through a surreal, bug-infested world". Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  6. "Blind Forest". Ori. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  7. "About Cave Story". Cave Story Tribute Site. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  8. "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past". Wikipedia. 2020-10-06. 
  9. "The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds". Wikipedia. 2020-10-04. 
  10. "Dead Cells - The rogueVania from Motion Twin". Retrieved 2020-10-13.