Metroid-like exploration games in a nutshell

NOTE: First of all, there is going to be a few spoilers here and there on today’s post, so if you have never played any Metroid game (SHAME ON YOU) you may consider not to read forward. That, and I strongly suggest you leave anything you are doing immediately and get a copy of Super Metroid ASAP.


Still with me?, good. That means you have good taste and have made your homework. Let’s begin.

As you may know, exploration games have been a broad genre in gaming for quite some time, but if one formula has stuck with us for almost 30 years above all others it has to be the famous Metroid gameplay style.

This means having a huge world to explore without almost no clues about its structure from the beginning. A world where you face roadblocks in your way every now and then that force you to search for new gear that will help you progress. A world where you will face strange new enemies around every corner and that will sometimes deceive you into thinking you are making progress when in truth what you have to do is to just go back the way you came and try a different approach.

This is a formula that has been perfected and copied for quite a long time now, to the extent that this whole genre is what we now call “metroidvania” games.

I love this kind of games, and on top of that I’m a HUGE Metroid fan. I love this gameplay style so much that I’m currently working on a small exploration platformer myself. But enough of that already, I’m here to expose a few bits of game design that compose this kind of gameplay style in order to help people understand what makes this formula so addicting and entertaining. I’m just going to scratch the surface of the whole idea, but hopefully it will be of use to those lost people wondering where to start.

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