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What Makes a Great Metroidvania?




Metroidvanias began as a mash-up of Metroid and Castlevania, but have since evolved into something far more varied and interesting. We explore what makes the greatest Metroidvanias stand out and how they’re evolving in this new generation of games.

Special thanks to the following YouTube vids, which provided a few of the clips used in this video:
Symphony of the Night on XBLA:
Shadow Complex: Getting the Foam Gun:
Shadow Complex Speed Run:
Ori Movement Footage:
Super Metroid Crashed Ship Gameplay:
Metroid NES Gameplay:
(The rest of the footage used was straight from our archives)

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HADES 9 Pre-Alpha Gameplay Teaser
  • Castanha and metroid are the bests metroidvanias


  • I just pirated Hollow Knight (Got it from a friend) and played it for a few hours. I absolutely LOVE it. And I've never played games like these before. I've mostly played 3D open world games like Far Cry 3 & 4 and Fallout 3 & 4, so this is a completely new genre for me. I was skeptical at first but Hollow Knight completely blew my mind. Needless to say, I've bought the game now. I'll gladly support good game developers who just want to make good games.


  • I loved multi-dashing and finding all the secrets in Hyper Light Drifter


  • hollow knight didn't make you're 2017 top 50 games list


  • Dead Cells, Rogue Legacy, Bloodborne, and Dark Souls are not Metroidvanias. The first two are rogue-likes, the latter two are souls-likes. The first two have some Metroidvania elements but are clearly rogue-likes at their core. Souls-like games have a closer genetic relationship to Metroidvania as a genre but are distinct in a number of ways, and collapsing them confuses what makes each genre interesting and appealing.
    And Metroidvania is not a "mashup of Metroid and Castlevania". According to Jeremy Parish, who popularized the term, it was coined by Scott Sharkey to characterize Koji Igarashi's Castlevania games, also known as "Igavanias", in contrast to the earlier level-based linear entries in the series. As Parish points out, Iga's design philosophy was inspired by Zelda, especially Zelda 2, rather than Metroid, and this fact is reflected in his games, which are more Zelda-like than Metroid-like. (See Parish's article on "The Metroidvania Lie".)


  • Looks like a new metroidvania is coming…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3yTZCrX2h0

    tweeter: https://twitter.com/DeepEnigmaTheG1


  • Just found "Epoch of Aegis" looks like another good addition to the list.


  • Dark Souls only rewards combat. It doesn't have any exploration focused power ups and and even items are mostly either dropped by enemies or bought with the currency you get from combat.
    Why do people act like they know shit about game genress nowadays?


  • Humm, I don't reckon there would be much of a way to tell a story in a procedurally generated game, unless the developer deliberately choose bits and pieces to glue together when the world is generated (y'know, as they normally do), however with the twist that when a piece of the dungeon is generated next to another specific one, the game code would let these 2 bits act in such a way that it would make sense. Imagine if Hollow Knight was rogue-like. How would you tell that the Blue Lake was what was creating the rain in the City of Tears? Unless the two rooms were somewhat connected, and the code would tell that when that happens, the rain effect would trigger. But then again, the world wouldn't be that engaging or remarkable, even if that scene were to happen, since when you die, the world is basically gone too.


  • What I’m missing here is not just “gear gating”, but the way you replay areas when you have new skills, and especially how you have to remember what areas were once locked or otherwise inaccessible to you as a player. Getting a new skill not only means “ooh i can do new stuff now”, but through level design it becomes “ohh i think i know where i can apply this new stuff now”


  • What was 4:48 to 4:55?


  • Good video, but I'm not quite sure I understand the difference between Metroidvania and "modern Metroidvania" (or even why they're called "Metroidvania" and not simply "Metroid-like" or whatever).


  • Jeez I gotta play Hollow Knight


  • 1:15 "i wasnt supposed to BEE"

    im not sorry


  • It doesn't have to be complicated, these are sidescrolling action adventure games or platform adventures. Take Zelda 1, make it side view with more of a platform focus and there you go. Hollow Knight is more open than SM and SotN though, and some of its design I would consider more old school actually – the map system, precise platforming and the higher challenge for example.

    Rogue Legacy is a roguelike hybrid, so not really the same thing. DS and Bloodborne have less of a platforming focus and being in 3D changes exploration and puzzle design, so they're also different.


  • Metroid is my favorite game series.


  • Super Metroid really makes you FEEL like Metroid.


  • LiakLiak

    Author Reply

    Not a single second of Shantae? Are you kidding me?


  • Dark souls is not a metroidvania


  • Name of the Game in 0:17 ?


  • The world should not only feel alive (despite being dead) but also interconnect with itself making future trips easier to navigate through. They should also have open worlds which you can return back to is why DeadCells is not technically a Metroidvania even if it draws some inspiration from them.


  • 1:15 fuckin god dammit I hate everything


  • thank you, i'm currently thinking about becoming a game designer and, after playing my first time trough super metroid, it clicked, this is what i want to do.
    But i want to do it my own way.
    think about the following sentence: *skill-based metroidvania*.

    items don't limit your progression, skill does, items only make it easier, make you stronger and are used as a way to reward you. But, if you're skilled enough, you can beat the game with only the equipment you start with, this adds replayablity and changes the format of the genre itself.

    just tell me if you think it is a good idea.

    altough, up until i put it to use someone is going to do it beforehand, sadly. I still got 6 years to even finish school and think about this, i just need to know:
    is it a good idea?


  • My fav metroidvanias are Spider-man web of shadows and shattered dimensions on ds


  • You should consider having a text over lay pop up saying what game is playing on the screen. A handful of those games look awesome!


  • Wow watching this video just reminded me of how much I love video games. Pretty easy to feel overly cynical about the game industry these days.


  • 4:32 If this guy thinks the Mantis Lords are one of the hardest fights in Hollow Knight then he mustn’t have got very far.


  • What game is that at 0:17?


  • like somewhere i wasn’t sposto “bee”


  • I actually believe that the term "metroidvania" is everything you said (because it's the METROID part) plus the RPG elements (the VANIA part): lots of items to collect, levelling up, etc.

    The VANIA part is what missing on most of the games mentioned.


  • LA-MULANA 2 exists. It is an excellent metroidvania with an emphasis on riddle-solving. In a few months it will be releasing on all current-generation consoles.


  • "Hello Knight"???


  • Hollow knight is my fav of 2018


  • What do you mean Mantis Lords were one ofthe hardest boss fights in the game?


  • What makes a great Metroidvania? Tell us where to go it's simple 🙂

    I played Hollow Knight for about 2 hours not knowing where to go , sometimes i just fight bosses that i think i shouldn't fight due to their size or their abilites , I really enjoyed Hollow knight mechanics and gameplay but the random exploring is what killed the game for me , I really dont like spending so much time exploring the BIG world , cause hollow knight world is reaaaaaly BIIG , i just keep moving right only to find tons of rooms and passages and paths and everything , and sometimes i feel that im going the right way but clearly im not at all , and then i just go back and go left this time only to find MILLIONS OF PATHS XD , i dont even know what to say about this game anymore , i hope that metroidvania games tells you where to go in the future


  • arkham asylum is my favorite metroidvania


  • GUACAMELEE


  • Dark Souls is not a Metroidvania. It's far more like the first Legend of Zelda, where you have multiple objectives to complete, and then new objectives open up. The critical thing about Metroid is, as you said, "gear gating", so like, you need the high jump ability to get past a certain platforming challenge and into a new area. Dark Souls doesn't have that at all. Same goes for Bloodborne. Oh, yeah, and Rogue Legacy is a Roguelike. Absolutely no gear gating in that one either, and the world changes every time you die anyway.


  • One thing I really liked about Metroid Prime was how the story was pretty much optional. Instead of forced cutscenes they let you piece together the story on your own with the scans and I felt that was a really cool way to talk about the lore of the world


  • I love Metroidvania, Symphony of the Night and Hollow Knight are some of my fav games of all time,
    but I had tried and tried and could not get into any Metroid games , I want to like it or at least finish one but would never get that into it.

    I love always prefer sword over guns.


  • I still hate the ghost ship and phantom boss in super Metroid. It’s creepy and I don’t know why.


  • There have been 3 games that I've played that rise high above any game I have ever played. The first one is Cave Story, the second is the Mother series (I'm counting the whole series as one thing. I never play them separately), and the third being the most recent, Hollow Knight. Never have I played games this enchanting, full of wonder and potential, beautiful music, appealing visuals, amazing story, splendid gameplay, and everything to make a game great. When I got Cave Story, that was the point my skill in platformers starting increasing rapidly. Especially after Beating Ballos. That was in 5th grade. I now have Regional records from NES Remix 3ds, and beat Cave Story on hard mode. My best feats to date. Earthbound was just lightning in a bottle. It gave me a better appreciation on life, and further tightened my grip on my childhood. Just like ponyboy from the outsiders, I'll stay gold. Hollow Knight is the best damn medroidvania I've ever seen and played. So much to do and find. There so much extra stuff that you can beat the game with only 8% completion. I spent hours straight playing this game. I absolutely love it's art style. It's both simplistic, yet detailed. In legend of Zelda games, you have to find heart pieces, yet finding them is way to time consuming. In Hollow Knight, you can go find grubs. They are easier to find, but still fairly difficult. Some are really hidden, and it's fixed with a map showing their locations if you beat a certain boss. I spent my time looking in every nook and cranny not so I can find things necessary, but because I wanted to explore. No other game ever gave me this wonder and curiosity. It's a whole world to explore. And you don't feel like missing out on anything. Once you get a new item, it just adds more things that you couldn't do. Not because you need it, but because it feels like a natural discovery that you are gifted with for exploring. And the lore, amazing. So many secrets to uncover, or ones left to theorize. Never stop being curious in this world, because that is what let's us move forward.


  • What's that game at 0:16


  • i get triggered when ever someone compares hollow knight or dark souls to any game out there
    it just falsely put those games at the same level
    people who pretend to be "gamers" really need to stop doing that


  • Also, I found Chasm to be really unoriginal and almost a straight up knock off of the handheld castlevania games. Almost nothing in that game felt new


  • Everyone should play Iconoclasts, it's an amazing metroidvania with a great storyline


  • DARK SOULS IS NOT METROIDVANIA
    Metroidvania has to be in 2D. Doing it in 3D is a different genre.


  • My first 'Metroidvania' was Metroid. I don't know why this term 'Metroidvania' is what it is. Metroid has always been 'Metroidvania' while only a few Castlevania games are 'Metroidvania'. Symphony of the Night is probably one of my favorite games of all time and I've been a fan of Castlevania and Metroid since the 80's. I suppose Metroidvania is easier to say than, "Games like all Metroids and some Castlevania games".