The lights are on
Nintendo’s Metroid and Konami’s Castlevania series both have slightly different takes on the same great formula. We’d love to see more 2D entries from either series, but which series will return to the genre first?
Metroid? Metroidvania is a dumb name, but Nintendo pretty much invented the formula with its Metroid series. Super Metroid is still one of the best examples of how to do exploration and environmental puzzle solving. Its moody atmosphere, clever game design, and great music don’t hurt either. Check out our Super Replay of the game here.
When Nintendo released Metroid Fusion for the GBA in 2002, and Metroid: Zero Mission two years later, it looked as if we were set for a long run of handheld 2D Metroids. It never happened.
After the New Super Mario Bros. games and Donkey Kong Country Returns brought two of Nintendo’s classic icons back to 2D, again we figured that we’d see Samus follow suit. Again we’ve been disappointed. It seems like Nintendo just doesn’t care that much about the Metroid franchise. In the last decade, Nintendo has outsourced the design of most Metroid games to other studios. Texas-based Retro Studios did a great job on the Metroid Prime trilogy, but those games were 3D shooters.
Team Ninja didn’t fare as well. Many saw 2010’s Metroid: Other M as a disaster, so Nintendo might be letting the Metroid franchise cool for a bit before it makes a return. When it does, we suspect it will make another 3D Metroid game. Nintendo, if you’re reading this, feel free to make another 2D Metroid just to spite us.
Castlevania?The Castlevania series didn’t start out anything like Metroid, but 1997’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night took heavy inspiration from the Metroid formula. Konami even improved on this design in subtle ways, enabling Castlevania to carve out its own identity. After Symphony of the Night, Konami released a number of handheld Castlevania titles on Nintendo’s GBA and DS systems.
However, the formula has slowly become tired. The last entry to follow the Metroid formula was Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, which came out in 2008 (unless you count 2010’s co-op DLG Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, which is sort of an oddball). Since then MercurySteam has returned to the series action roots. The developer’s upcoming handheld game, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, is a 2.5D title with some Metroid elements, but it doesn’t completely replicate the Symphony of the Night formula in the way we were hoping. Read our E3 preview for more on this.
Our Best Guess: MetroidThis is a close one. It might be a while before we actually see another 2D Metroid game, but Konami has committed to the formula that MercurySteam established, and it might take several years for those titles to run their course. Metroid, on the other hand, is due for another 2D title. What do you think? Which series would you like to see return to 2D first?
Email the author Ben Reeves, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.