Author Topic: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?  (Read 1508 times)

Kelvin

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Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« on: September 11, 2021, 09:19:09 PM »
I play a lot of these fuckers, but I'm always slightly put off by the same thing: backtracking is a fundamental part of the genre, and a lot of the time, that's simply not that much fun. See the same enemies in the same places, only now they're really easy to kill! Traverse areas you've already passed through, but now its easier, emptier, and therefore less interesting! And there's never enough shortcuts or ways to skip around; how many times have you looked at a map in a Metroidvania, realised you need to get one item or visit one room/door, and rolled your eyes knowing there is simply no way to get there quickly? It's just a whole genre of games built around going back through places slightly quicker.

Anyway, despite all this, I do like a lot of the Metroidvanias out there; and one of my favourite games is Metroid Prime. So, I thought I'd start a thread to discuss the pro and cons of the genre, and maybe see if there's any agreement over which games handle backtracking best - or worst.

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2021, 09:47:59 PM »
Are Zeldas a Metroidvanias?

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2021, 09:51:41 PM »
I quite liked Dead Cells because that took out all the backtracking, lots of teleporters if you got to a dead end.

Yeah, I can't be arsed with all the backtracking. Waste of time.

It's weird how the genesis of the genre seems to have come way before the two games that make up it's name.
I remember there being loads of those sorts of games on the speccy, and it's the main reason I can't be chuffed with them nowadays. Played far too many of them in my youth. "universal hero" is one that springs to mind because I forgot it's name for years - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDI6wMUtMNA

Saboteur, draconus, the monty mole games. I wonder what the first one was.

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2021, 09:51:44 PM »
I do become a little disappointed when fast travel options open up and any late game challenges are just prefaced with a series of menus.

That being said, a game like Hollow Knight in which purchasable things are quite expensive and you can make an argument for going back through an area and having a few fights, goes a certain way to make backtracking less of a chore.

Really remember enjoying Guacamelee, I don't know if that's strictly a Metroidvania but there are both some properly difficult platforming challenges (mostly optional) and a very fleshed out 2d fighting system.  Exploration is very much a distant third, but it all knitted together rather well.  Not over-long either.

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2021, 10:36:27 AM »
Is Dizzy a metroidvania?

I saw an ad for the new metroid game recently and quite fancied it. Although I think the last one I played was shadow complex on the 360 so I'm not a massive fan.

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2021, 12:59:26 PM »

That being said, a game like Hollow Knight in which purchasable things are quite expensive and you can make an argument for going back through an area and having a few fights, goes a certain way to make backtracking less of a chore.


I think the graphics and music can really help with this too. Hollow Knight in particular has such a gorgeous art style and the soundtrack is one of the better game soundtracks I've ever heard. The music is always perfectly suited to the environment and it meant revisiting areas was a joy just to be able to take it in again. It's not often you can say that about a game. It's absolutely dripping in atmosphere.

Kelvin

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2021, 06:17:48 PM »
Interesting that Hollow Knight is getting cited as an example of a Metrovania that does backtracking right, as that's almost certainly the example I'd cite of the game doing it worst. Hollow Knight is great, obviously, but even by the standards of a Metroidvania, the lack of shortcuts between areas really stands out. If you need to get back to a previous region, you'll often have to cut through several other whole regions, or across the whole map, because there are so few conveniently placed stag or tram stations. And the fact that there's no quick save and enemies are really hard also means that you have to be much more careful when returning through levels, because if you carelessly die while rushing back, you stand to lose so much more. So its not just backtracking, but cautious backtracking. 

I seem to remember there's a late game move or charm that allows you to warp back to the village up top, but even that isn't really that convenient and has a cost. It's just such a ballache getting around that game.

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2021, 06:25:56 PM »
I never felt like I had to backtrack that much, either I went through again exploring or it was going back to fight a boss, and even then you get the  teleport ability at some point, with setting your own restore point.

But I do have 40 odd hours on it and haven't finished it yet (trying to do the Grimm Troupe before the final boss), so maybe that speaks more.

madhair60

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2021, 06:31:01 PM »
I always give the same response to that, which is that it's only a ballache if you don't like it, or if you boil games down to QOL/mechanics. It sounds more dismissive than it is, but I always find myself thinking about what Hollow Knight would be like without backtracking and I think it would lose a lot of its immersion and atmosphere. There's so much scope for stumbling across stuff, or finding new ways to traverse. And the way you fill out the map yourself lends even more to that in my opinion, the tension of getting further in, the relief of finding a station or a bench.

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2021, 06:42:44 PM »
My entire experience is trying and failing the first Metroid game, but I enjoy the mechanics so every now and then I'll pop it on and repeatedly mess up.

Kelvin

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2021, 07:08:17 PM »
...I always find myself thinking about what Hollow Knight would be like without backtracking and I think it would lose a lot of its immersion and atmosphere. There's so much scope for stumbling across stuff, or finding new ways to traverse. And the way you fill out the map yourself lends even more to that in my opinion, the tension of getting further in, the relief of finding a station or a bench.

I think that's kind of the crux of my point, really. A huge part of the genre's appeal is that sense of place, that openness, that sense of discovery, and of getting a reward that makes it all worthwhile. 

But it's such a difficult line to straddle, making sure the backtracking is enough of an obstacle that you appreciate the rewards, and yet also not a daunting, frustrating slog. I've just finished playing Ori and the Blind Forest for the first time, and although that game could still do with a couple more warp points, the actual traversal is so much more satisfying than in Hollow Knight, because the upgrades do significantly speed up the backtracking; enormous jumps, speed dashes, using enemies as launch points. It does still feel a little redundant to be passing through an area where there's nothing left to do, but at least you're breezing through it, and getting to exploit your fun new moveset.

Overall, I probably slightly prefer Hollow Knight, but purely in terms of exploration, I much preferred moving quickly through the world of Ori.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2021, 08:03:53 PM by Kelvin »

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2021, 07:34:54 PM »
I remember playing hollow knight and I went through a couple of screens and decided I wanted to go the other way so I walked back and all the enemies had respawned and I was like "aw for fucks sake", I wasn't enjoying the combat so having to do more of it than I bargained for wasn't a good start.
I fucked it off after beating the first boss. Just thought "yup, I've seen enough.".

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2021, 07:45:14 PM »
Metroid Prime
Symphony of the Night

Everything else is a footnote from what I've played. The indie takes on MV are too thin for me, other people's ideas with nicer sprites. I understand why people like them, of course, because a lot of people like any old shit.

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2021, 09:47:19 PM »
Is Dizzy a metroidvania?


Nah, it has to have that element of character progression that you generally don't get in older puzzle-platformers, e.g. acquiring permanent upgrades and abilities which allow you to progress further in the game and open up new area.

Although thinking about it, Batman on the Speccy & CPC might qualify at a stretch as you get permanent item upgrades that you need in order to traverse certain screens, hmm.

Kelvin

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2021, 09:56:07 PM »
Are Zeldas a Metroidvanias?

One of the original reasons Nintendo created Metroid was because they wanted to make a Zelda style game that incorporated the platforming and mobility of a game like Mario. So really, all Metroidvanias should be called Zeldarios.

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2021, 02:30:34 AM »
I mean, the people who like memorizing and taking notes and getting 100% love the bracktracking, but also like, fuck that.
Was playing Guacamelee for free and realized it was one of those after the first boss, and *yes, I'm happy with this, uninstall*

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2021, 03:01:18 PM »
I thought Guacamelee was absolutely delightful, but then I am a big fan of Tex Mex food.

I can't think of any Metroidvanias I've played in which the backtracking was too onerous. It's usually just the hub areas that you'll revisit much, and they tend not to be that large. The branching areas are bigger, but usually loop around in a basically linear path.

I had a lot of fun a few years playing through a bunch of the 2D Metroids that I'd missed out on. The Gameboy Advance ones are really good and actually improved on Super Metroid in some ways. I would heartily recommend checking out the fan-made Metroid 2 remake AM2R.

Controversy time: The so called Souls-like genre is just Metroidvanias done worse. It's the same open world design, but the lock and key style progression is replaced with tedious XP grinding. No need for intricate game design, when you can just give each new set of baddies a million more hit points than the last.

One of the original reasons Nintendo created Metroid was because they wanted to make a Zelda style game that incorporated the platforming and mobility of a game like Mario. So really, all Metroidvanias should be called Zeldarios.
The Legend of Zelda crossed with Mario? Legend Mari(o)!

madhair60

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2021, 03:07:35 PM »
Controversy time: The so called Souls-like genre is just Metroidvanias done worse. It's the same open world design, but the lock and key style progression is replaced with tedious XP grinding. No need for intricate game design, when you can just give each new set of baddies a million more hit points than the last.

Absolute rubbish.

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2021, 03:09:01 PM »
I wouldn't say they are absolute rubbish, but certainly highly overrated.

madhair60

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2021, 03:12:38 PM »
There isn't a single Souls game that exists that gates anything behind XP grinding. Not a single one.

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2021, 06:59:34 PM »
😂😂😂

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2021, 07:08:50 PM »
a lot of people like any old shit.
I hate those stupid fucking bullet hell shmups, horses for courses and all that I suppose.

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2021, 07:37:10 PM »
It's not really comparable because not many people like them. I understand the point you were making, though.

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2021, 04:40:28 AM »
There isn't a single Souls game that exists that gates anything behind XP grinding. Not a single one.
Ah yes, how many hours playing/getting better does it take to do a lvl 0 run successfully?

Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2021, 08:57:02 AM »
A level 0 run isn't the aim of the game.

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2021, 10:18:13 AM »
I never had to grind to beat Dark Souls or Bloodborne. Maybe a couple of laps of the first little loop in Bloodborne to get blood vials once or twice, but that was my choice and wasn't at all necessary.

Soulsborne is 100% about improving your skill and 0% XP farming. Just because you can level up doesn't make it a forced grind. The attribute changes are negligible anyway, this should be clueing the player in. It could be argued that the way weapon upgrades work make finding Titanite etc the closest thing you do to "farming", but I made it through comfortably without doing any of that and my skill level is utterly average.

I just don't accept that Souls games are about gating via XP/level gains, that just isn't true at all. For one thing even at Soul level 99 or whatever you can still get battered if you just spam.

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2021, 10:26:34 AM »
Isn't Doom a 3D metroidvania?

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2021, 10:45:44 AM »
No, Doom has distinct levels/maps that you cannot return to later on. The key feature of a metroidvania is that you have single map, that you unlock gates to extra bits of it once you have new abilities.

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2021, 10:53:14 AM »
Yoku's Island Express is my favourite of these I've played for a while. Pinball metroidvania is just inspired

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Re: Metroidvania is a weird genre, isn't it?
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2021, 04:26:39 PM »
The trouble I have is that if you play a bunch of them, it's inevitable that obtaining all of the traversal options starts to feel very rote.  Double jump, dash, airdash, something that makes you stick to walls, up attack, down attack, fly-in-a-straight-line etc etc


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