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One of the biggest disappointments coming out of E3 was the lack of any Nintendo news regarding the company's popular Metroid series. Thankfully, gamers no longer have to rely on Nintendo to scratch that itch. Over the years there have been a number of great releases that have emulated Metroid's exploration-based gameplay in a variety of original ways. Here are some of the best non-Metroid, Metroid-like games that any fan of the series should make a point of adding to their gaming catalog.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – PSone, 360Symphony of the Night is one of the original Metroid imitators, but it still deserves a spot on this list. Now that the game is more than 15 years old, there may be those who still haven’t played it. Even if you’re familiar with the game, it’s worth a return visit. Set four years after Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Dracula’s son, Alucard, returns to his father's castle looking to put his reign of terror to an end. Symphony of the Night takes Metroid’s non-linear platforming and exploration and layers on an equipment and RPG experience system. The result is a true gaming masterpiece.
Cave Story – Wii, DS, 3DS, PCStudio Pixel’s retro nod is like a game that fell out of a time warp. Featuring old school graphics and gameplay sensibilities, you could easily fool the uninitiated into thinking the game from the ‘80s. Players play an unnamed character with amnesia who fights to save a village of Mimigas from a villain named the Doctor. Yellow shards, dropped by defeated foes, are used to power-up a variety of weapons, but taking damage causes weapons to lose experience. While Cave Story doesn’t feature as much backtracking as a traditional Metroid title, you still use your weapons and wits to explore about a dozen cavernous worlds. A 3DS version updated the game to 3D visuals, but retained the title's classic gameplay.
Guacamelee! – PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, 360, Vita, PCFeaturing an emphasis on action and a Dia de los Muertos vibe, Guacamelee! is a great mix of a lot of different elements. The game features the traditional Metroid-style exploration, but a strong combat focus and dimension-switching mechanic mixes up the formula creating something new. As Juan, players battle their way through a world inspired by traditional Mexican culture and folklore in order to rescue El Presidente's daughter. Many of the new moves that you acquire throughout your journey are also the tools you need to traverse further into Guacamelee’s world.
Outland – PS3, 360Inspired by the arcade classic Ikaruga, Outland uses a light/dark swapping mechanic that allows players to change their energy and absorb hits from like colors. However, players can only damage monsters when they are switched over to the opposite color, creating an interested risk reward system. Combine this with Metroid’s 2D exploration, vibrant visuals, clever puzzles, and solid platforming, and you have a game that stands on its own.
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