List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

For discussing ideas and thoughts on the Metroid franchise in general.
CapCom

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List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby CapCom » 06.21.12 11:11pm

I decided to make a little thread here after coming across this section of Play This Thing:

http://playthisthing.com/game-taxonomy/metroidvania

A nice little collection of what users have labeled 'Metroidvanias'. All the games are free, but a couple links are broken. I think I'll have me some fun this weekend...

Anyway, if you see any Metroidvanias (including crappy ones - like Snidaria), you can post 'em here! This can expand on anything that's not on the recommended games list.
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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby CapCom » 06.23.12 8:51am

Weird - that site won't let you direct-link to the wiki. You can either click Games --> Here --> Metroidvania, or just read this (sorry, it won't look as pretty as the Wiki page).

Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Metroid: One of the earliest examples of the form, albeit a bit on the rough side.
  • Castlevania II: Simon's Quest: A fairly brilliant expansion of MSX Castlevania counterpart Vampire Killer, somewhat dogged by its aggravatingly opaque clue system.
  • Milon's Secret Castle: Hudson's own effort. Um, nice try?
  • The Goonies II: An interesting, ambitious hybrid of platformer and adventure game. Not perfect, but charmingly '80s. Like the movie!
  • Legacy of the Wizard: Falcom's expansion of the Dragon Slayer series, designed specifically for NES. Ruthless, and nearly impossible. Yet compelling!
  • Rambo: Once you get past the killer moths and the fact that the in-game portraits make Sylvester Stallone look like a stroke victim, it's actually pretty OK!
  • Blaster Master: A great, great game knocked down a peg or two by some really stupid top-down sequences.
  • The Battle of Olympus: A shameless Zelda II clone that removes a lot of the crummy abstraction that plagued its inspiration.
  • Faxanadu: Falcom returns to the fray with a far more focused adventure.
  • Master Takahashi's Adventure Island IV: The final commercial release for the NES/Famicom saw Hudson making amends for Milon.
  • U•Four•ia: A quirky but crisp obscurity from Sunsoft that never quite made its way to the U.S., alas.

Sega Master System
  • Wonder Boy in Monster World: Wonder Boy and Adventure Island both split from the same original game, so perhaps it's little wonder that they ended up going in the same creative direction.
  • Zillion: Sega's take on the Metroid concept. Kind of brutal, but not bad for a game based on a cartoon based on a toy.
Sega Genesis
  • Monster World IV: A whimsical, beautiful Genesis platformer, tragically unreleased in the U.S.
Super NES
  • Wanderers from Ys III: A bold misstep for the Ys series. But at least we still have Faxanadu.
  • Super Metroid: The golden standard by which all such games are judged.
  • Super Adventure Island 2: Master Higgins goes all nonlinear yet again.
  • Kirby Super Star/The Great Cave Offensive: Even Kirby went nonlinear. Kirby! Will the madness never end?

Game Boy
  • Metroid II: Samus' second adventure lacked a certain je ne sais qua, but it wasn't bad... just a bit rough. However, it laid the groundwork for one of the greatest games of all time, so that's totally fine.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Actually, this is included in the list strictly on hearsay.
  • Shantae: The Game Boy's final great original creation before going all Advance on us was a beautiful tribute to the open-ended platformers of the NES era.

Sony PlayStation
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: A grand adventure that encompassed the scope of the classic Castlevania series, added solid RPG mechanics, and gave it a nice coating of Super Metroid.
  • The Divide: Enemies Within: An early attempt at a 2.5D Metroidvania. Its rough framerate and box visuals hurt to look at, but this was basically Shadow Complex more than a decade early.
  • Tomba!: A bizarre platformer involving pig-biting. It is every bit as awesome as it sounds.

Game Boy Advance
  • Castlevania: Circle of the Moon: From the creators of Castlevania for N64 came an equally lackluster adventure!
  • Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance: Symphony co-director Koji Igarashi's glorious return to the franchise... wasn't so glorious, to be honest.
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: Fortunately, the follow-up more than made up for it.
  • Metroid Fusion: Perhaps the most unpopular entry in the core Metroid series, Fusion made some missteps to be certain... but it did a lot of very interesting, very good thing as well.
  • Metroid Zero Mission: A magnificent remake of the original Metroid marred only by the fact that the visual direction of the game changed midway through, creating a weird graphical inconsistency from area to area.
  • Kirby: The Amazing Mirror: A non-linear, multiplayer take on the Kirby concept. It frustrates in places and would have worked a lot better with wireless systems, but it's nevertheless a very interesting piece of work.

Nintendo DS
  • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow: The sequel to Aria of Sorrow lacked its predecessor's sense of originality (since it was basically a bigger, better rendition of Aria). But, uh, a bigger, better rendition of Aria is pretty awesome.
  • Mega Man ZX?: Despite a confusing map system, ZX was the full realization of what IntiCreates had attempted to express with Mega Man Zero. Except less abusively difficult!
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin?: While the second half drags, Portrait is probably the single Castlevania game most geared toward thorough exploration. And the dual-character mechanic makes up for a lot of shortcomings.
  • Metroid Dread: Well, uh, maybe not.
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: Advent's improved map system and layouts were balanced out by its lackluster character power-ups. But you can't win 'em all.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia: Secretly a classic Castlevania masquerading as a metroidvania, Ecclesia was clearly Igarashi's attempt to sneak an old-school linear Castlevania experience past modern gamers.
  • Soul of Darkness: Gameloft's naked attempt to rip off the DS Castlevanias. Imagine if Dawn of Sorrows was bare bones, linear, and ran at 12 frames per second and you have this mobile phone port. Yay?
    Monster Tale: From the creators of Henry Hatsworth, and possessing a strong Monster World IV vibe, which is awesome.
  • Shantae: Risky's Revenge: A compact but satisfying sequel to Shantae, and hopefully the first of many more chapters to come.

Wii
  • Metroid: Other M: Metroid Dread died so that this adventure might instead live. If "Other M" is just a transparent attempt to disguise the word "mother" I will be terribly disappointed. Unless, of course, the word mother denotes a Metroid/EarthBound crossover.

Xbox 360
  • Shadow Complex: A fine game, but curiously familiar in some mysterious way. If only I could put my finger on it....
  • Castlevania: Harmony of Despair: Does this even count? Koji Igarashi has taken a bunch of DS Castlevania graphics and made gigantic multiplayer time attack stages out of them. Weird, but fun.

Windows
  • Akuji the Demon: I think it's inspired by Castlevania, or something!
  • Cave Story: A brilliant homage to 8-bit, exploration-based platformers.
  • Eternal Daughter: Charming!
  • I Wanna Be The Guy: Brutally difficult!
  • La Mulana: Also brutally difficult, but in a more oblique way.
  • Lyle in Cube Sector: So, uh, cubes. Yeah.
  • Zeux's World: Another early indie effort.
  • Fallen Frontier: Apparently a co-op metroidvania game from some of the key designers of Halo 2 and 3. Weird? Yes, but also cool.

Proto Metroidvania: The Early Years
Before Metroid cemented the mechanics and fundamentals of this particular little niche, lots of developers had already started casting their ambitions in this direction regardless. The following games are some of the most important pre-NES works I know of, experimenting with the various ideas and rules that would coalesce when Metroid game along.
  • Zork: A permanent inventory which includes items necessary to access certain parts of the game world? What a grand idea!
  • Pitfall!: Branching pathways and the need to backtrack make this game a lot less linear than it first appears.
  • Pitfall II: Lost Caverns: A further expansion on the Pitfall concept.
  • Knight Lore: Exploration is the key to this huge platform-hopping isometric quest.
  • Xanadu: Primitive, but it laid down the groundwork for some key titles; its sequels include Legacy of the Wizard and Faxanadu.
  • Impossible Mission: It's all adventure-y and stuff.
  • Montezuma's Revenge: Another early yet ambitious effort.

Metroidvania Gaiden: The Borderline Cases
A fundamental element of a Metroidvania game is its vast, contiguous world design. While the following games revolve around large, non-linear platforming worlds, they consist of individual areas connected by an overworld map that breaks up the action portions.
Anal-retentive? Sure. But that sort of hair-splitting is what lists like this are for.
  • Clash at Demonhead: Demonhead's level map structure (similar to Bionic Commando's) breaks up the game flow, but it's still quite open-ended.
  • Demon's Crest: The second sequel to Gargoyle's was much more of a metroidvania than its predecessors, but still strayed a bit from the standard trope.
  • Exile (Acorn): Man, I don't know. British micros and I don't have much of a common heritage.
  • Front Mission: Gun Hazard: The Front Mission series' first foray into action gaming.
  • Gargoyle's Quest: Part platformer, part RPG, all rad. If a bit chunky and primitive.
  • Gargoyle's Quest II: A more refined version of the original.
  • Knightmare II: The Maze of Galious (MSX): Pretty much the inspiration for La Mulana.
  • Knight 'N Grail (C64): A modern-day (read: July 2009) take on the platformer that really pushes the C64 to its limits.
  • Popful Mail (Sega CD version): Of all the different iterations of Falcom's Popful Mail, this felt the most exploratory. And it had a level-up system, too!
  • Shaman King: Master of Spirits: Clearly built around the Aria of Sorrow engine, this anime spin-off was a pretty decent open-ended game with a structure remarkably similar to Clash at Demonhead's.
  • Shaman King: Master of Spirits II: Same as above, but slightly less enjoyable for some reason.
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: The top-down view through which Link explores the world makes this feel like more of an RPG, but when viewed through the lens of its offspring (e.g. Battle of Olympus et al.) you can definitely see the metroidvania connection.
The sleep of Reason produces monsters.

"Until next time..."
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Capsized: New Metroid-Style Action Game on Steam

Postby CapCom » 07.26.12 10:13pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrYUEa00dGM

During the Steam sale, I picked up an interesting title called Capsized. This is an action game where you're an astronaut stuck on a hostile alien world (and I DO mean hostile - you get bitch-slapped by rabid bugs in the VERY FIRST ROOM). Uses keyboard+mouse (or Gamepad, which I've been using) and controls very similar to Super Metroid.

You aim using the mouse, but you've also got this energy cannon that can grapple onto walls or objects and then fling them at targets. I guess gravity guns have been pretty popular since Portal, but this is the first time I've seen one in a 2D game. There's wall-jumping too, but I find it just as easy to grapple through everything. Or jet pack :)

There's a lot of exploration, although everything is level-based, so it's closer to Turrican in that regard. You are also rewarded for completing each level in a short amount of time, finding all the secrets, and not getting killed once.

The visuals and audio are also AMAZING. This is some fantastic pixel art, reminiscent of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (now also on Steam). Very detailed illustration, which was one of the first things that drew me towards this game.

The story is told through still cartoon images, with absolutely no dialogue or narration. And then, of course, there is a fair bit of environmental storytelling through the level design.

Anyway, it's pretty cool and definitely worth looking into. The game is PC only and I believe only on Steam.
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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby Squalid Pumpkin » 09.16.12 6:12am

I've put together a comprehensive and constantly expanding list of Metroidvanias on A Metroidvania Website, a project I've been working on for at least a few months now (though the games list itself has been available on Mr. P's Castlevania Realm for three years now). You're free to use it as reference for this thread's purposes, and hey, don't hesitate to make suggestions and corrections!

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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby darkpower » 09.17.12 1:49am

Hmm...since Other M is essentially a 3D version of the trope, does that mean that we can add those games that do 3D as opposed to 2D?

If so, then may I suggest sandbox games like the GTA series and inFamous to the mix. Also, a good 3D example would be the Batman: Arkham games (both Asylum and Arkham City). Though I haven't played the City one yet, the Arkham Asylum one seems to fit the bill (even though I haven't played it in forever).
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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby Naner » 10.02.12 8:23am

GTA and inFamous don't fit because they're too open, have no feel of isolation and only inFamous' progression is power-up driven. Metroidian gameplay is open in the sense that you can go wherever you want if you have the power and/or skill to do so, but the environments are usually tight and closed.

And Batman.... Ehhh.... Maybe. A closer fit than GTA, certainly.
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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby Chris » 10.02.12 8:51am

I would count Batman for sure.

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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby newhenpal » 10.02.12 9:46am

Would Banjo-Tooie count?

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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby HYRUL3 » 10.02.12 12:26pm

GTA and inFamous don't fit because they're too open, have no feel of isolation and only inFamous' progression is power-up driven. Metroidian gameplay is open in the sense that you can go wherever you want if you have the power and/or skill to do so, but the environments are usually tight and closed.

And Batman.... Ehhh.... Maybe. A closer fit than GTA, certainly.
Batman definitely counts. Especially Asylum. You need to collect upgrades to explore new areas, you find lots of item pickups, there is definitely a sense of isolation...
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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby ceres » 01.03.13 12:53pm

Aliens: Infestation for the DS has some Metroid elements in it (like isolation, a sinister atmosphere and a little exploration) but it's very linear (and painfully short).

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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby samusfan » 01.04.13 12:28am

Blaster Master:Overdrive (wiiware):maybe the best game of the series since the first,great mazes ,a lot of caves(places that only the pilot enter),nice abilities and the remastered nes soundtracks like the AREA 5 nes music(the best for me). all this makes the game fun and exciting while playing
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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby Dragonheart91 » 01.18.13 2:44pm

I think I have a much stricter definition of Metroidvania than others. Most of the games listed here don't meet my definition. I define the genre as: "A game in which you explore an open world and obtain permanent power-ups which significantly alter the feel of gameplay, along with opening new areas for exploration." Honestly, most platformers that give you a double jump upgrade come close to this definition, but I like to think you have to have multiple instances of this for the game to earn the title of Metroidvania.

There are exceptions, but generally that is the starting point. I don't think games like The Legend of Zelda or Cave Story are Metroidvanias though. The new power-ups in those games don't really make the core gameplay feel different and are usually just glorified keys or new weapons. Cave Story is borderline because the jet pack is a very Metroidvania-esk power-up, but that is the only thing in the game that has that kind of effect. (Note that I'm not knocking either series. I love them both.)

A perfect example of the Metroidvania formula simplified and distilled to it's core is the "Robot Wants ..." series of games and Snaliad.

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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby HYRUL3 » 03.08.13 4:53pm

I'd recommend the new Tomb Raider in the same way Batman Arkham Asylum/City has been recommended. It's not 100% Metroidvania, but it's worth a look. You obtain new items that unlock new routes, and have to solve many puzzles using the items in your inventory.

It's a great game, and I can't recommend it enough.
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Re: List of Metroidvanias and Recommended Games

Postby Emperor Ing » 03.08.13 6:40pm

I would recommend both System Shock games, for Windows PC.

In System Shock 1, the game is more or less non-linear after the first two levels - your access to other areas is restricted only by whether or not you found keycards lying about, and whether or not you have deactivated the security in the current sector - and if you have a gun, you can deactivate the security.

It is very fresh in its approach to level progression (in that there is no real 'level progression, only general benchmarks reached), and its cyber atmopshere of mutants, robots, and upgrades will feel very familiar to Metroid fans.

Typing up "System Shock Portable" will lead you to a patched version of the game ready to play on Windows Vista and beyond; it's abandonware (meaning it is more or less ok to download it - if it's not you can more or less edit this part out).

System Shock 2 is far more linear, but it still allows you to tackle each major section in your own way, with your own upgrades, in the order you want. It has its own great horror atmosphere, and any fan of complicated, engaging FPSes owe it to themselves to pick it up from GOG.com.

Metroid fans (who should be fans of sci-fi and cyberpunk anyhow) would love the System Shock games. They shit all over today's lackluster, cinematic wank-fests.
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