Lately many games try to embrace former genres and there are two that have come about that have really made me just want to slap someone so hard that my hand would hurt. They are Roguelike and MetroidVania Games.
I should say that I’m a bit old but still in the age range of the average gamer. I feel that there is a bit of bad branding happening and it is driving me nuts.
When I was young (1980’s)there were Platformers, Action games, Puzzle, RPG and Sports games. Now, for some reason this wasn’t enough, and I can understand wanting more. However, the younger developers are trying to relive the past by making games we all love. For some reason they felt the need to name these games “roguelike” & “MetroidVania” and that is what drives me crazy!
Now let’s look at this like I do as Metrioid, it was an amazing game and has had many sequels that have kept this game in a very high place with many gamers, including myself.
In truth, the title “MetroidVania” is a bit of a misnomer because the genre began with Metroid, but because Konami decided to copy the format with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid titles were few and far between at the time, the term “MetroidVania” stuck. This is what is wrong here; I mean back in the day, before first-person shooter was a genre, FPS titles were known as “Doom clones” and they have left the days of Doom in the dust.
The basic building blocks of MetroidVania are: to offer a large map that is completely available from the very start of the game, there are no levels and setting changes (ie: planets, countries, etc), everything takes place in one pre-defined area that can be fully explored from the first moment the game starts. From there items, doors, and enemies are scattered throughout the area to keep the character limited in his or her actions until certain points – it’s a creative way to offer some semblance of linearity to a game.
Now a few of the games that started this whole thing tried to change and move to 3D but they were met with much outcry from the fans. I, for one, am one of the many that like the old way of doing things and feel they should try to stay true to their roots.
Another term that makes me a bit sick when a young guy comes up to me and starts talking about the latest Roguelike game. Its makes me wonder if this young player has ever even played “Rogue” at all and if they even know what this wonderful blast from the past is.
You may or may not know that the roots of the “roguelike” come from a 1980 computer game called Rogue, which established the dungeon crawler. This game was considered genre-changing when compared to the slower paced text adventures such as Zork and Dungeons & Dragons video game ports like Wizardry and Ultima.
The result was a game where an adventurer explored a multi-floored dungeon, collecting items and facing enemies all while searching for a final artifact (in this case the “Amulet of Yendor”) to complete the game. Each floor was more difficult than the last, you could not backtrack to a previous floor and if you died you got a game over. It was as simple as that.
Modern day terms, and what basically defines a title known as a “roguelike”, refer to a game that has randomly generated levels/layouts, random items/enemies, and permadeath. Permadeath means that when you die all your levels, items, experience, gold and even save game are completely lost and you are forced to start over. In some cases finding your body will grant you items back, but overall there needs to be significant consequences for your actions.
Best examples of games like this are Binding of Isaac Rebirth, Tokyo Jungle, Spelunky and, of course, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon on Wii.
Now, if you’re planning to make a game or just looking to find a gem that you never played before, I encourage you to look at the past and do it better! Do not make us play a bad clone of what was the first and best game of its type. We have too much of this crap in the stores as it is so please, make the right choice and make it a good one.
I hope you enjoyed my little rant here and I hope you keep coming back to see what we all have in store for you.
As always you can find me on twitter @riddle43 and… have a wonderful day.