Overuse of "Metroidvania" & misuse of "Castlevania" in media Aug 11, 2018 14:33:06 GMT -6 allooutrick likes this
Post by RichterB on Aug 11, 2018 14:33:06 GMT -6
I'm going to do my best to break down what I'm getting at here. What does the term Metroidvania mean to you? Owlboy, Ori, Hollow Knight, Axiom Verge, Cave Story, etc...and most recently Dead Cells. The term "Metroidvania" is flying left and right across the media. And obviously, the progression of many of these games come from a style that is primarily either Super Metroid of Symphony of the Night inspired, so I understand the temptation. Especially when so many games are coming out in this style. But I am personally getting a little annoyed for a few reasons:
1.) Metroidvania is as clunky and misleading a term as "Castleroid," and I don't recall anyone deciding one over the other...until, suddenly, yep, it's "Metroidvania." It's convenient, but we don't call platformers "Marios." i.e. "Crash Bandicoot is a great example of the Mario genre." We don't call JRPGs "Dragon Quests" or "Final Fantasies," either, despite a lot of what they established.
2.) Each one of these games has a very different flow to it. What appeals to the so-called "Metroidvania" fan is going to be different, because the term is so ambiguous. Is it the item-gated world? Is it the power-ups? Is it the leveling up? Is it the way the map fills in on screen? Is it the methodical gameplay? Is it the attention to atmosphere? Is it the maze-like level design? Is it a shop mechanic? Is it the inventory menu? Is it the fact that it's 2D? (I mean, a lot of that could be used to describe a game from the Legend of Zelda series, too...even the leveling up, which you do literally in Zelda 2, but have done more of more in a roundabout way with combat-rewards crafting in later Zelda titles, though we even had "Level 2, etc." items listed at least as early as Link's Awakening, and maybe even as early A Link to the Past depending on how you look at it.)
3.) This is the biggest annoyance: The term Metroidvania has become a synonym for Castlevania. Something like Dead Cells comes around, and people say it's the best Castlevania in a long time: "Dead Cells Might Be The Best Castlevania Game in Years...Is it the perfect evolution of the Castlevania formula? Probably."~IGN's NVC. That's a complete distortion of understanding, likely based on someone having only played Symphony of the Night or one of the GBA or DS entries, or just disregarding everything before them after doing so. Just talking about one aspect, the combat: All the bragging about the combat and how it evolves things would be like me saying giving Mario a machine gun and a parry made the combat in Mario Bros. so much more satisfying. Part of Castlevania's core inherent structure is limitations so that levels can be crafted in a fashion that forces you to plan ahead and strategize how to overcome obstacles and enemy placement.
I've actually realized the so-called "Metroidvania" actually has its roots in Vampire Killer for the MSX. It had inventory items like keys, shields, boots; maze-like stages; a shopping mechanic; and a map you could find and pull up on screen. And Simon's Quest largely continued this, even having the character leveling up. So when talking about Castlevania, it shouldn't really be Classicvania and Metroidvania, it should be Castlevania or Vampire Killer, primarily. And since there's already that kind of gradation so early on, with two different names, it doesn't help to tell people nowadays through insinuation that if it's not Metroidvania it's not Castlevania. And if the two are synonymous, it really doesn't start to add up. Because I don't think you'd say that Axiom Verge is a Castlevania game any more than you'd say Contra is a Mario game.
I don't know that I was able to gather my thoughts here clearly enough. I'm still solidifying them, really, and I'm not sure how far I want to take this. But I was curious if this bothers anyone else in any way. I imagine, again, that if your first Castlevania was a so-called Metroidvania, than that's largely what Castlevania means to you. That's understandable. But it's also sort of gradually re-writing history via the media when they use Metroidvania more and more and start to equate it with Castlevania. (Sort of like if one said the Battle Network Mega Mans were the primary definition of Mega Man.)
I don't have anything more to say about this right now, so I'm just opening this up for discussion.