The Problem With Metroidvania

  • Metroidvanias are a celebrated and highly thought of subgenre, combining gameplay design elements from the CastleVania and Metroid series' of videogames.

    My issue concerns the name of the subgenre. Ok, Metroid and CastleVania may have innovated with facets gameplay that should be held in high regard, but naming this subgenre as a fusion of two great franchises will always look to make any game that falls within it inferior by default. Take Guacamelee as an example, it's a bright lucha-libre inspired game with a lot of inspiration and merit, but automatically it will be compared to two giants it can have no hope of besting because people will describe the game as a MetroidVania.

    Same with the Ori games, they are wonderful, beautiful and resonating experiences, but gameplay wise it's bowing down to the old guard by being described within this esteemed Metroid/CastleVania hybrid. You don't see people referring to FPS games as DoomStein games-a bond between Doom and Wolfenstein do you?

    How do you guys feel about this? I imagine there would be some disagreement here, but please share your thoughts on this matter.

  • I don't like the name. I still use because if you say Metroidvania everybody will know what you mean.

    The name Metroidvania was never meant to be the name of a subgenre. It was meant to distinguish the classic linear Castlevania games with the Metroid like Castlevania that people would call the "Metroidvanias". When the genre started to get popular again in the 2010s people just called all the games that are similar to Metroid "Metroidvanias".

  • I don't think that's a real problem. If the game is good enough, people aren't still going to see it as lesser because of the genre title.

  • I don't see it as a problem in the same way you're describing. For example, I find Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Hollow Knight to probably be better pound-for-pound against any Metroid or Castlevania game I've played. So I don't really pit them against the originals in that sense.

    But I think Metroidvania as a term has become a bit too one-size-fits-all for my liking. Ori and Hollow Knight are quite different styles of game so using Metroidvania to describe them only gets you in the ball park. But too many people use it to describe the whole experience.

  • Now I want to use the term "DoomStein".

  • I don't think that's a real problem too.

  • Cweeny is correct in its origin, the term simply got picked up but I don't think it's officially a subgenre.
    I disagree with your concern though. Things like this always have their origin point and I think that needs to be historically recognised but I don't think games in that vein are always playing second fiddle. That said, developers can and have made mistakes in their marketing by taking the term too literally or doing direct comparisons themselves to the two juggernauts.