Metroidvania is a term used to describe a type of exploratory 2D platform game. It comes from the original Metroid series games and some of Castlevania's Middle Ages games, especially "Night Symphony", which is what mainly gave rise to the term. A very popular element of these games, especially in the Metroid franchise, is the concept of "breakthrough sequence". By using different special tricks or mastering the utility of basic skills, you can sometimes access elements and areas much sooner than the game expects. The game has leveling which can be through the player level, or by collecting certain items to make it permanently stronger. It has a 2D platform with a strong focus on combat and exploration.
The origin of the subgenre Metroidvania goes back to the most important sagas that video games have given us: Metroid and Castlevania. From here, also derives its name because it is a fusion of both. This mixture of names comes from the first two franchises that were immersed in the approach of adventure games. Metroid, created in 1986, is considered to be the first title to showcase these mechanics and type of gameplay. A year later, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest would be introduced to the field. It could be said that it followed the line of its predecessor, who was more focused on direct action. This is how Metroidvania originated. Samus Aran’s adventures with Super Metroid and Konami were two games that were also created and were another true jewel of the genre: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
The most defining characteristic is usually the world. Instead of setting stages or a world map, the whole game takes place within a giant map, which must be traveled. This map is not just any map, but on the contrary it is a very complex map full of all kinds of secrets. The map is typically divided into different sectors, more than everything is based on an aesthetic way to indicate to the inhabitants the dangers, which will be different at every moment. Sometimes you have teleports to help you travel from one place to another, but other times you just have to remember where to go on the map. There are several elements within the game related to exploration. Usually there are a series of fragments hidden in different places, or some puzzles that must be solved when you find the right equipment.
The exploration doesn’t happen in a linear way either: its limits of progression through the map are obtained by means of diverse tools or improvements that the player must acquire, but the order in which he must acquire some of these tools is not established. And in many choices that are made while playing, there are many ways to get those tools, or even overcome obstacles without those tools. The defining feature is that the game world is made up of interconnected tunnels, passageways, rooms, etc., with some sections that are initially inaccessible due to some kind of barrier. As the game progresses, you will acquire new capabilities that will allow you to overcome those barriers, opening access to new areas. Games of this style usually involve a lot of backtracking each time you acquire a new capacity, as you go back and find all the locations where this new ability allows you to progress beyond what you previously could.
Its origin dates back to 1986 after Nintendo released the first title of Metroid, which controlled a bounty hunter called Samus. The term Metroidvania comes from the union of the titles Metroid and Castlevania, titles that were large franchises and are considered the pioneers and creators of this genre of video games. To be more specific, the genre emerged in its beginnings as a subgenre of the Action/Adventure genre, which was very famous and played in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, due to the resounding success of many of the titles in the Metroidvania sagas that gave rise to this subgenre, it has become a genre in its own right.
Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Metroidvania. Recovered on 29 April, 2021, de Euston96: https://www.euston96.com/en/metroidvania-en/