For many who grew up in the early 90’s, you’ll most likely know of a game called Super Metroid. This game has become an all time classic among many video game fans, and is widely considered to be one of the best games ever created. With its immersive gameplay, which allowed players various ways of playing, Super Metroid went on to inspire other titles to follow in suit of its approach to adventure. Throw in Castlevania, another classic title that’s known for its challenging platforming experience, and you’ve got Metroidvania. As we move now into 2017 we’re starting to see a huge influx of new Metroidvania inspired titles, and to kick things off we’re going to take a look at some of the best in the business.
10. Mega Man ZX
- System/Platform: Nintendo DS
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Date: July 6, 2006
Mega Man has always been a franchise that brought out not only the best in everyone, but also the worst. We say the worst because despite how much fun you had scaling walls and zapping enemies, you’d die quite frequently due to the very difficult boss battles and unforgiving level designs. Mega Man ZX is no different than its predecessors other than the fact that now you can choose between a male and female protagonist, something that a lot of people were pleased about. You must embark on a journey to stop the dangerous Mavericks from destroying your planet and restore peace.
Mega Man ZX takes its inspiration from Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero, while combining other cool features to create a title on its own. Using the M.E.G.A. system to your advantage, players must activate biometals in the game which allow you to upgrade weapons and armor as you play through. Anyone who’s a diehard fan of Mega Man shouldn’t sleep on this one, because it really allows you to be very versatile with your options and there’s an abundance of things to actually learn about that it’ll keep you busy for a good while.
9. Cave Story
- System/Platform: Multi Platform
- Publisher: Studio Pixel | Nicalis
- Developer: Studio Pixel
- Release Date: December 20, 2004
Developer Studio Pixel had a strong affinity with the classic Metroid titles, and you can certainly see remnants of it all throughout Cave Story. The story follows a protagonist who suffers from amnesia, and finds himself in a cave. While exploring, he learns of a crazed doctor who’s trying to brainwash the cave’s inhabitants to help him conquer the world, and so now you must put all of the pieces together to rid of the doctor and his evil schemes before it’s too late.
Nothing feels better than to be thrown into a world of nostalgia because it’s in that very world that your inner child shines the most. While traversing through the very 8-bit looking title, you’ll encounter puzzles while trying to exterminate enemies with weapons that you can upgrade as you progress further into the game. Be careful though, because as you take damage, your weapons start to lose a lot of their firepower and experience so be sure to stay on alert in this wonderful experience brought to you by Studio Pixel.
8. Kirby & the Amazing Mirror
- System/Platform: Gameboy Advance, Nintendo 3DS
- Publisher: HAL Laboratory | Nintendo
- Developer: HAL Laboratory
- Release Date: April 15, 2004
Kirby as a franchise, was never really known for stepping into the Metroidvania world simply because its formula already worked, and so many people loved the pink puff for years anyway. Nintendo and HAL thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if Kirby was thrown into a new universe, and to their surprise people found it to be quite enjoyable. This is the only title that King Dedede doesn’t make his notorious appearance which came to a surprise to many.
Kirby & the Amazing Mirror follows the same formula as The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords where you must control four different colored Kirby’s to strategically solve puzzles, and overcome dangerous obstacles that try to halt your progression. Taking inspiration from both Castlevania and Metroid, Kirby now has the ability to roam freely throughout each level, collecting mirrors and power ups along with other rare items to aid you on your journey. While the game is quite old, the gameplay always feels youthful and so we highly recommend checking this one out if you’re a Kirby enthusiast.
7. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
- System/Platform: Multi Platform
- Publisher: WayForward Technologies
- Developer: WayForward Technologies
- Release Date: October 23, 2014
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse follows the strikingly beautiful Shantae as she must go on a wild adventure in order to save Sequin Land from the new enemy, Pirate Master. Along with the help from her past nemesis Risky Boots, they set off to ensure that Sequin Land is protected and that evil is wiped out completely.
One very unique trait about Shantae and her games is that she uses her hair to whip her enemies, along with collecting various pirate items to aid her on the arduous journey ahead. One of our favorite weapons was the hat which allowed you to glide through the air, and ride on gusts of wind that passed you by. This made for easy transportation but to also strategically avoid any enemies if you found yourself low on health. Fulfilling quest objectives to progress in the game is no picnic, as you’ll need to defeat tricky bosses or finding specific items and having to return it to someone else on another island. It’s a game of constant back and forth which is certainly a treat if you’re into it like we were.
6. Axiom Verge
- System/Platform: Thomas Happ Games
- Publisher: Thomas Happ Games
- Release Date: March 31, 2015
If there’s any game that honestly resembles that of Super Metroid down to the entire design of each level, it most certainly has to be Axiom Verge. At first glance you’d probably think that Nintendo released a remake of their hit title, but as you examine even closer you’ll start to see some differences that make Axiom Verge a title that stands on its own. You play as Trace, who after suffers a devastating injury, wakes up to find himself in an ancient world known as Sudra and must now stop Athetos before it’s too late.
There’s just so much to cover about this game that we would need another few paragraphs to go into detail. To save you all of that, let us just say that if you grew up in the era of Contra, Super Metroid, Bionic Commando and the real true classic Blaster Master, then Axiom Verge is honestly one of the best Metroidvania games out there. You’ve got every classic all squished together to create a game that feels and truly looks like it came from out of the retro vault, with challenging gameplay to hook you no matter how hard you try to take a break.
5. Ori and the Blind Forest
- System/Platform: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox 360
- Publisher: Microsoft Studios
- Developer: Moon Studios
- Release Date: April 27, 2016
When Ori and the Blind Forest made its debut, many had high expectations about how everything would turn out. Ori lived up to the hype and blew everyone away with some of the best visuals we’ve seen in a Metroidvania title thus far, and provides a nice warming story to really encompass everything. Ori and the Blind Forest follows Ori, a guardian spirit with the ability to scale walls along with the help of Sein, who’s able to assist you by shooting spirit flames at enemies.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a treat for anyone interested in the Metroidvania experience because it throws in a lot of elements that you love from past classics, while implementing puzzles in order to progress through the game. As you scale and jump over platforms solving puzzles, you’ll need to use strategy to overcome enemies and make sure to use your soul links whenever you can. With a spectacular story, seamless action sequences, along with truly immersive design to the environments, Ori and the Blind Forest is a hit you definitely need to play.
- System/Platform: Multi Platform
- Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
- Developer: DrinkBox Studios
- Release Date: April 9, 2013
Guacamelee came out of nowhere and really impressed a lot of players with its outstanding visuals, amusing story, and very stimulating gameplay. The game puts you in control of Juan, a young wrestler who must fight his way through many obstacles to rescue the President’s daughter.
While the story is somewhat cliche in that you have to go out of your way to save the daughter of the president, it’s truly the gameplay that has you coming back for more. With every element you can think of taken from both Metroid and Castlevania in respect to both titles, Guacamelee! ends up being this title that stands out on its own because it also gives players a little history lesson on Mexican culture and folklore. As you run through each level grappling and stunning enemies, you’re always greeted with something new to experience with new challenges to always keep you on your toes. This is one game you don’t want to ignore, so best to grab it now on Steam before the holiday season ends!
- System/Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom | Double Helix Games
- Release Date: February 18, 2014
The Strider franchise took a long hiatus after its arcade and console releases, and many speculated whether the very challenging series would make its triumphant return. Low and behold it did, and with a variety of new features paired with the usual Strider play to keep things exciting. You play as the ninja Hiryu who’s sent on a mission by the Strider organization to assassinate Grandmaster Meio, and maintain peace in the city of Kazakh.
Strider’s remake takes everything you loved from the previous iterations such as NES, arcade, and Strider 2 combining them together to create a very core experience. Much was also taken from its manga counterpart as well, which only helped to fuel the story between Hiryu and his attempts to kill Meio. Much of the gameplay is all free roaming, which allows you to pretty much scale any wall that you see, collect items, and take out enemies who stand in your way with your trusted Cypher. It’s an all out action packed adventure that takes you back to the days when Strider was a truly difficult experience, but now with all of the nuts and bolts to give it a more modern day feel.
2. Metroid Prime
- System/Platform: Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Wii
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo | Retro Studios
- Release Date: November 17, 2002
While Super Metroid is the staple title that really generated the whole hype behind Metroidvania, it was Metroid Prime that also became an innovator in its own way. Metroid Prime was the first title out of the series to go into first person mode, allowing players to take control of Samus as she travels around planet Tallon IV in order to rid of the corrupt space pirates, and to prevent the spread of Phazon on the planet.
Metroid Prime did what a lot of other titles didn’t which was that it jumped from a category that it had been very comfortable living in, and took the form of something fresh and exciting for fans of the series to really enjoy. You truly felt like you were in the driver’s seat in Metroid Prime, as you wander around the dangerous planet searching for answers, and blasting these creatures away in first person. Another awesome feature was when Samus rolled into her ball form, the camera would then change into third person perspective to allow players to traverse through small or hidden pathways to get to new areas. This was unprecedented at the time in gaming, which is why Metroid Prime is one of the best Gamecube games, let alone best games in existence.
1. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
- System/Platform: Multi Platform
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami
- Release Date: March 20, 1997
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is the best in the famed series because it incorporated everything you loved from pretty much every Castlevania before it, and revamped the gameplay in a remarkable way. Combine that with the incredibly challenging experience that you’d get from Super Metroid, along with the ability to backtrack to collect everything you need and you have a gem on your hands.
While many would agree that the voice acting and some parts of the soundtrack were questionable, the gameplay is the major selling point. Everything felt fast paced, thrilling, and truly exceptional because you were treated to a title that knew exactly what it was doing and did it with such grace that now the game is a cult classic among Metroidvania fans. Age has nothing to do with how much fun you have, because despite Symphony of the Night releasing back on the PlayStation 2, even to this day every time you pick up the whip and traverse through the castle to kick Dracula’s arse, you’re always greeted with something new to reinvigorate your energy to play.
With an influx of new Metroidvania inspired titles making their way to Steam and consoles, it seems like a lot of developers are really trying to relive the good old days of when gaming was all about the challenge, and not the flashy graphics. We’re totally on board for this one and look forward to new titles in 2017. We can’t forget to mention Owlboy since it also was a spectacular title that deserves some credit too. What other Metroidvania titles do you folks love the most? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to share, like, and retweet our articles to keep the community buzzing!
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