[dropcap size=big]M[/dropcap]etroidvania-style games are a huge part of our history as a gaming community and have managed to secure a place in our hearts even now as technology continues to improve and games get more and more realistic. While I have previously spoken about the history behind Metroidvania games in “The World of Metroidvanias: History”, I have yet to talk about why they have remained so relevant and why we see so many Metroidvania titles on crowdfunding sites. There are numerous factors which have kept the Metroidvania style kicking around over the years and I aim to take an in-depth look at each and every one of them with the help of Matt White, the creator of the successfully crowdfunded 2D Sci-fi Metroidvania game Ghost Song.
Delving right into it, the first, and likely most evident reason for Metroidvania’s unbroken popularity is that feeling of nostalgia a player experiences when they hear that iconic soundtrack and see those familiar retro graphics. Nostalgia typically influences most players opinions of a game or genre of game, whether it be Metroidvania style or otherwise. Matt White talked about the games that influenced Ghost Song and told us that “one of the most formative gaming experiences of my childhood was Super Metroid. The fact that the world felt as though it was just there and it was indifferent to you genuinely captured my imagination.” He also included some more modern, non-Metroidvania titles like Dark Souls and The Last of Us as inspiration. Obviously both the creators and players of these games have fond memories of them and wish to recreate those memories as best they can in newer titles.
In addition, though the controls of the games were unavoidably simple for their time, Metroidvania titles often offered players a level of difficulty that other games could not. Between fighting mobs of enemies and having to explore every inch of an area, Metroidvania classics were rage-fits waiting to happen. Those rage-fits, modern gamers quickly realized, were excellent Youtube content material. Now, extremely popular Youtube channels have dedicated playthroughs of classic Metroidvania titles, which only increase the interest in the game style. That level of interest is what brings us to crowdfunding, and why Metroidvania games are so prevalent in the crowdfunding community.
“What enriches the experience isn’t a particular discovery, but the notion that the game you’re playing contains important discoveries to begin with. The excitement is in the search, in the journey, not in the acquisition of whatever thing at the end.” – Matt White, Creator of Ghost Song
As Matt White so eloquently said, the excitement truly is in the journey and the exploration of the world around you. Those that are drawn to adventure are typically drawn to Metroidvania titles and since a large portion of game players do look for that sense of adventure, Metroidvania titles do well. Matt has been credited as “a bit crazy” when he chooses to put in “content that is in the corner of the world behind a secret wall and behind another secret wall” but he, and many other Metroidvania fans, believe that the discovery of the secrets is where you get the enjoyment out of the game.
The continued popularity does however beg the question of whether or not the Metroidvania style will continue to prevail in the future. Will players always want to back Metroidvania projects for the sake of nostalgia, difficulty, and exploration or will the novelty wear off as more and more titles appear on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo? Matt White believes in the longevity of the genre, stating that “good projects and good pitches I anticipate will always be viable, and, in particular, games in the Metroidvania genre.”
For more information on Matt White and his upcoming title Ghost Song, make sure to go the the game’s official site. He intends to continue making Metroidvania titles in the future and will focus mainly on RPG and dynamic elements with less emphasis on gun-centric combat. To see more on Metroidvania titles and some of the best of the best throughout the years, check back here for the third and final instalment of this Metroidvania series.