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Genre Change suggestion ~ 'Metroid-vania'

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Dwaggienite
1,405,761
Dwaggienite
Posted on 12 October 17 at 20:26, Edited on 13 October 17 at 09:06 by Dwaggienite
There has been a lot of discussion lately in regards to the N64-port of classic game, Banjo-Tooie, being added to the 'Metroid-Vania' category.

Personally, I find this ridiculous, simply because the gameplay is so very, very different to classic metroid-vania-esque titles.

The current TA genre description for Metroid-Vania is as follows:
These games are inspired by classic Metroid and Castlevania games, but need not strictly adhere to the original formats. These games usually involve navigating an open or semi-open world using the skills and abilities of the character. A core component of the genre features players earning new abilities and/or items which allow them to explore previously inaccessible areas. Backtracking is also a core element of the genre (generally for progression purposes). These games can be 2D or 3D and do not need to be Platformers.

This is so laughably incorrect that it's allowing such mis-classifications as Banjo-Tooie.

Banjo-Tooie is NOT a metroid-vania title. At best, it's a 3rd-person adventure (3PA) title.

This is why one of the best games ever created, Metroid Prime, was not classified as a metroid-vania, but was classified as a Third-Person-Adventure by both Retro Studios (the developers), and Nintendo (the publishers) themselves; because in a 3D environment, the gameplay is just far, far different.

A better description, I feel, would be as follows:

**EDIT** I've amended by suggested description, further down in this thread.

This description would be FAR better describing metroid-vania titles, I feel, such as the ones below:

Metroid
Castlevania
A Boy and his Blob
Shadow Complex
Ducktales (not sure how I wrote this here, apologies!)
Cave Story
Shantae
Guacamelee
Teslagrad
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
Wonder Boy
The Swapper
Song of the Deep
Dust: An Elysian Tail

Metroid-vanias are NEVER open-world, and are NEVER in a 3D environment. Open-world signifies you can go anywhere, anytime (see GTA, Saints Row, for example).

With the tightening of this genre description, I recommend adding a new genre onto the site - 3D Adventure (which would encompass Banjo Tooie, and other 3D games of the like).

Thank you for your time.
x Mataeus x
569,767
x Mataeus x
Posted on 12 October 17 at 20:29
I feel the phrase "gated progression system" has to go in there somewhere.
Dwaggienite
1,405,761
Dwaggienite
Posted on 12 October 17 at 20:31
x Mataeus x said:
I feel the phrase "gated progression system" has to go in there somewhere.
I think I've kind of encased that in the 'progression through the game' part. :)
Zonrith1
550,296
Zonrith1
Posted on 12 October 17 at 20:41, Edited on 12 October 17 at 20:42 by Zonrith1
Here is a link to the original discussion thread where the existing Metroidvania definition was established:
Metroidvania: Discuss Definition Here

Merely supplying it for reference, as the definition as it stands involved a lot of community input (rather than being staff created).
IDarK VorteXX
532,665
IDarK VorteXX
Posted on 12 October 17 at 22:57
IMO, there are a few key staples to the Metroidvania genre.

Firstly, the world map is interconnected and allows the player to explore it. Sometimes access to certain parts are locked until the player can acquire certain skills/abilities/upgrades be it through boss fights or just exploration. These new abilities/skills/upgrades will also allow the player to be able to explore hidden paths, secret areas and shortcuts. Through this, Metroidvania games include tighter integration of story and level design, careful design of levels and character controls to encourage exploration and experimentation, and a means for the player to become more invested in their player character.

Secondly, there is more often than not, a way of traversing the map quickly. These can be pre-determined teleport locations or even save points. These will help the player get from one point to another without spending much effort or time and are also unlocked either through exploration or story progression.

Thirdly, weaker creatures will inhabit the rooms/areas and stronger enemies will sometimes act as a lieutenant. Bosses wil often block paths and will often reward skills/abilities/upgrades to allow for more exploration. The weakers enemies can be respawned by leaving the room/area and entering back again.

Some people also believe that Metroidvania's also need to have platforming as a core component but I dont believe this to be true. Take what you will from this paragrpah. Additionally, it should be 2D as many believe but I think we can expand this to incorporate 3D aswell.

Lastly, most of the time, the player will have an in-game map to look at. This map will show how the world is interconnected and, more often than not, the areas will be displayed as rectangular rooms. There is also an exploration percentage available to show you how much of the world you have uncovered.

Im not saying these are the only features of a Metroidvania but are the most common ones. If anyone would like to add more then be my guest.
misfit119
724,003
misfit119
Posted on 13 October 17 at 01:09, Edited on 13 October 17 at 05:04 by misfit119
One of the things someone mentioned about this on GameFAQs was this:
The difference, imo, is that in Zelda you're on an adventure filled with sidequests, towns to visit etc. In Metroidvania games you're alone most of the time and exploration is you're only goal with the final reward being to beat the final boss.
Dwaggienite said:
This is why one of the best games ever created, Metroid Prime, was not classified as a metroid-vania, but was classified as a Third-Person-Adventure by both Retro Studios (the developers), and Nintendo (the publishers) themselves; because in a 3D environment, the gameplay is just far, far different.
I'm very confused by this. I've never heard anyone in the gaming industry, beyond Wikipedia, refer to Metroid Prime as anything but a Metroidvania game.

Dwaggienite said:
A 2D Side-Scrolling game with screen-segmented maps where additional routes and paths are unlocked with progression through the game and with the attainment of new items and abilities. These games normally have a grid-based map based on four-directional movements (up, down, left, right).
By this definition the Batman: Arkham games would fit into the Metroidvania genre except for the 2D part. So either this description is just as unhelpful to the issue or 3D needs to be included. Either way I think some of the best Metroidvania games I played were the 3D Prince of Persia games so I'm inclined to resist any choice to remove 3D from the equation.

Dwaggienite said:
Ducktales
Wat. Ducktales is a platformer with discreet stages and no new abilities to unlock.

Dwaggienite said:
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
Wonder Boy
These are broken up into stages as well. I'm rather sure that would kind of disqualify them? I'm asking as I'm confused and possibly wrong in the case of Wonder Boy.

Dwaggienite said:
The Swapper
Here's the thing - this one plays more like Legend of Zelda. You get an ability, use it to access the new area and then that's about it. You don't get really need freedom to explore the map in most cases.

Dwaggienite said:
With the tightening of this genre description, I recommend adding a new genre onto the site - 3D Adventure (which would encompass Banjo Tooie, and other 3D games of the like).
This is unecessary. Technically speaking those 3D Adventure games are just action-adventure games. No need for a new genre for them.

IDarK VorteXX said:
Secondly, there is more often than not, a way of traversing the map quickly. These can be pre-determined teleport locations or even save points. These will help the player get from one point to another without spending much effort or time and are also unlocked either through exploration or story progression.
This isn't really the case. You didn't have them in the earlier games. I can't think of many instances of it in the Metroid or Castlevania games. Maybe Order of Ecclesia with its bite sized stages.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I'm not trying to be a naysayer or anything. But a lot of user input went into the current definition. So if we're going to change it I'd like it to actually solve the problems people are currently seeing with the genre definition.
Looking to boost any MP achievements I don't have for any game I own.
Dwaggienite
1,405,761
Dwaggienite
Posted on 13 October 17 at 06:54, Edited on 13 October 17 at 07:27 by Dwaggienite
misfit119 said:
One of the things someone mentioned about this on GameFAQs was this:
The difference, imo, is that in Zelda you're on an adventure filled with sidequests, towns to visit etc. In Metroidvania games you're alone most of the time and exploration is you're only goal with the final reward being to beat the final boss.
Dwaggienite said:
This is why one of the best games ever created, Metroid Prime, was not classified as a metroid-vania, but was classified as a Third-Person-Adventure by both Retro Studios (the developers), and Nintendo (the publishers) themselves; because in a 3D environment, the gameplay is just far, far different.
I'm very confused by this. I've never heard anyone in the gaming industry, beyond Wikipedia, refer to Metroid Prime as anything but a Metroidvania game.

Dwaggienite said:
A 2D Side-Scrolling game with screen-segmented maps where additional routes and paths are unlocked with progression through the game and with the attainment of new items and abilities. These games normally have a grid-based map based on four-directional movements (up, down, left, right).
By this definition the Batman: Arkham games would fit into the Metroidvania genre except for the 2D part. So either this description is just as unhelpful to the issue or 3D needs to be included. Either way I think some of the best Metroidvania games I played were the 3D Prince of Persia games so I'm inclined to resist any choice to remove 3D from the equation.

Dwaggienite said:
Ducktales
Wat. Ducktales is a platformer with discreet stages and no new abilities to unlock.

Dwaggienite said:
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
Wonder Boy
These are broken up into stages as well. I'm rather sure that would kind of disqualify them? I'm asking as I'm confused and possibly wrong in the case of Wonder Boy.

Dwaggienite said:
The Swapper
Here's the thing - this one plays more like Legend of Zelda. You get an ability, use it to access the new area and then that's about it. You don't get really need freedom to explore the map in most cases.

Dwaggienite said:
With the tightening of this genre description, I recommend adding a new genre onto the site - 3D Adventure (which would encompass Banjo Tooie, and other 3D games of the like).
This is unecessary. Technically speaking those 3D Adventure games are just action-adventure games. No need for a new genre for them.

IDarK VorteXX said:
Secondly, there is more often than not, a way of traversing the map quickly. These can be pre-determined teleport locations or even save points. These will help the player get from one point to another without spending much effort or time and are also unlocked either through exploration or story progression.
This isn't really the case. You didn't have them in the earlier games. I can't think of many instances of it in the Metroid or Castlevania games. Maybe Order of Ecclesia with its bite sized stages.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I'm not trying to be a naysayer or anything. But a lot of user input went into the current definition. So if we're going to change it I'd like it to actually solve the problems people are currently seeing with the genre definition.
Uh, I'm not sure how Ducktales got into my original post. Sorry about that. LOL.

Hell Yeah had segmented sections, that was correct, but it was still a 2D quad-directional map-based game with upgrades and the like. When I said Wonder Boy, I meant the older ones, not the new ones.

The Swapper is a perfect example of a metroid-vania because of the map style and the movement style.

I disagree with your opinion regarding Legend of Zelda and the Swapper, because the original non-3D Legend of zeldas had a top-down/birds-eye perspective. The difference between this, is basically that the entire screen can be walked on, as ground, but with the metroid-vanias, there needs to be platforms to walk on. The Metroid-vania games are very specific when it comes to what games fit into it. It's the entire idea of the grid-based map and the side-on viewpoint.

I would like to amend my suggested description to the following:
A 2D side-scrolling game (usually platform-based) with screen-segmented maps where additional routes, paths, and areas are unlocked with progression through the game and/or with the attainment of new items and abilities. These items and abilities may or may not be located in previously-visited areas a.k.a. with backtracking. Loading of new areas is usually done through doorways, screen transitions, or passageways. The viewpoint of the player is side-on and not from an overhead pespective. These games normally have a grid-based map based on four-directional movements (up, down, left, right).

Remember, the side-on perspective is pretty much one of the major signifiers of metroidvania.
Poopdog M60Riot
Posted on 13 October 17 at 07:32
Such a bad classification I lol’d
Banana Big Boys
Beanpotter
750,121
Beanpotter
Posted on 13 October 17 at 08:22
I agree the current description is too broad and prefer the new suggested description.

Using a game or games to encapsulate a genre means they must resemble the originals reasonably closely or it becomes pointless.
Mame Tobikomi!
Dwaggienite
1,405,761
Dwaggienite
Posted on 13 October 17 at 08:54
@Beanpotter - You're an admin of TA, will this be changed? Anyone can agree that Banjo-tooie is NOT a metroid-vania. Not even close.
ChinDocta
629,874
ChinDocta
Posted on 13 October 17 at 08:57, Edited on 13 October 17 at 08:58 by ChinDocta
Dwaggienite said:
@Beanpotter - You're an admin of TA, will this be changed? Anyone can agree that Banjo-tooie is NOT a metroid-vania. Not even close.
He's not a member of the Genre Team, it is unlikely he will step on toes and make a change. The only people I could see changing this without input from the GT is Rich or Jack.
Clever Jake
394,224
Clever Jake
Posted on 13 October 17 at 09:10, Edited on 13 October 17 at 09:13 by Clever Jake
I was briefly involved in the original discussion for the creation of the Metroidvania genre, I suggested that The Swapper fell into this genre. The team disagreed, as is their prerogative, though how they disagreed with me, but decided Banjo-tooie is, is somewhat of a mystery to me.

Like ChinDocta says however, neither me or Bean are involved with GI, (I used to be a long time ago) and this is a decision that needs to be made by the team, I would be surprised if the devs even intervened.
misfit119
724,003
misfit119
Posted on 13 October 17 at 09:11, Edited on 13 October 17 at 09:15 by misfit119
To clarify, when I mention Zelda I'm referring to the 3D games. Not going to go back to the NES days to make my point. laugh

Dwaggienite said:
The Swapper is a perfect example of a metroid-vania because of the map style and the movement style.
Right. But beyond that the game is very much a straight line. Back tracking is intensely limited to near absent (unless you missed a collectible), abilities are very simple and have set uses. To me that's more in line with the 3D Legend of Zelda games than a true Metroidvania title. It's all very direct and to the point which, to me, always feels more like an adventure game. Personally I think too much weight is given to the 2D aspect and map style.

Dwaggienite said:
I would like to amend my suggested description to the following:
Snipping for space.

As I said, if you ignore the 2D part, your description fits the first two Arkham games perfectly fine. Thus why the original definition didn't exclude them. You have a platform based game where additional routes, paths and areas were unlocked with progression and attaining new items and abilities. You had your backtracking and loading done via doorways (Very Symphony of the Night loading rooms sometimes). Plus it had a pretty through map system. The differences between it and Axiom Verge, for example, are very slim beyond 2D vs. 3D.

I think part of the problem here is that you have groups of people butting heads over what the genre "really is" when it's not that clear. You have people who think only 2D games can be Metroidvania's. You have people who think 3D games can fit in. Then you have people who think any Action-Adventure title fits into it. Depending on where you go on the internet I've heard Dark Souls, due to the way the map is designed, and Metroid Prime, due to fitting in every way beyond first person view. How slavishly do they have to resemble those games to fit?

This is how Banjo got in there. No consensus on this was ever reached and I think it's going to be near impossible to do so, looking at the threads and the tone they've been taking.

EDIT: I found some notes I took from a Koji Igarashi presentation where he talked about the elements that went into making a Metroidvania game. I was there but I dunno if it's online. They were as follows:

Control the same character from start to finish. This forms a connection to the character.
Controls are simple. This prevents frustration that leads to the player giving up.
As you get stuff it changes your action moves which adds another layer of fun. This leads to the player looking for more stuff to provide them with more abilities.
The player should have a map.
Focus on bosses being as exceptional as possible. Developers should be able to beat a boss without taking a hit to ensure it's properly balanced.
When designing the game map the developer should provide:
Exploration but not free reign. Small branches from the main path provide exploration while still guiding the player.
Have an easily identified main route through the game. It should always be leading them towards the ending but possibly not the real / best ending.
Main branches at memorable locations. This allows the player to remember locations and not need to consult the map.

He also explained that the only reason the game wasn't in 3D was that they lacked the ability to make it work in that mode. It would have required too much power to render the amount of assets it would have needed. Plus they had guys very experienced in 2D but knowing nothing of 3D. That's why they made a 2D game on a console renowned for sucking at handling 2D games.

EDIT 2:
Clever Jake said:
I was briefly involved in the original discussion for the creation of the Metroidvania genre, I suggested that The Swapper fell into this genre. The team disagreed, as is their prerogative, though how they disagreed with me, but decided Banjo-tooie is, is somewhat of a mystery to me.
I wasn't on the team at the time but it seems as if Banjo didn't get the genre, someone put in a disagreement and then it got the genre. Nobody ever did that with The Swapper.
Looking to boost any MP achievements I don't have for any game I own.
Beanpotter
750,121
Beanpotter
Posted on 13 October 17 at 10:27
Clever Jake said:
... this is a decision that needs to be made by the team
Indeed. We never overrule or enforce our opinions simply because of the our staff status. The only person that would decide that things need to be done their own way would be Rich. I was simply showing my support for something I agreed with.
Mame Tobikomi!
Dwaggienite
1,405,761
Dwaggienite
Posted on 13 October 17 at 10:32, Edited on 13 October 17 at 10:38 by Dwaggienite
Fair enough. But regarding the original point that I was making with 2D and 3D - the perspective is side on.

With 3D, you're physically controlling the character in a 3D enviroment, which makes the gameplay much different because you're playing AS a character, rather than CONTROLLING a character. That's the big difference that happens when you switch from 2D to 3D. You can physically LOOK AROUND, which you can't do in a 2D metroid-vania. When you're playing the character from a viewpoint where as you can rotate around your vision, is when it moves from a metroid-vania to a first/third person adventure, EVEN IF finding elements it has ability pick-ups and such, because in 3D, there is no longer a grid-based map, and you're no longer looking at the single protagonist from a side-on perspective.

As I said in the previous thread, this is where common sense should just be applied, and see that Banjo Tooie is NOT a metroid-vania, and the TA site description should be modified immediately so that other 3D platformers (which, lets be honest, BanjoTooie is), do not get put into this category. As it is, if you include Banjo Tooie in the metroidvania category, you might as well add in Conker's Bad Fur Day, Rayman 3D, Freeze Me, Donkey Kong 64, Mario 64, Jet Force Gemini, Gex, Earthworm Jim.

All of those titles I just mentioned would classify under the current description, yet, all of them are CLEARLY not metroid-vania.
ChinDocta
629,874
ChinDocta
Posted on 13 October 17 at 11:00
Dwaggienite said:
With 3D, you're physically controlling the character in a 3D enviroment, which makes the gameplay much different because you're playing AS a character, rather than CONTROLLING a character.
Seems like a contradictive statement to me, I see no difference, in terms of whether I'm controlling or playing as a character, in a 2D or 3D world.

To bring up another point, just because it doesn't fit your definition of metroidvania that doesn't mean it doesn't fit what the metroidvania genre has become. What is called a sandbox game has changed over time in the gaming community to become what the site defines as Open-world. Now whilst this site differentiates between the two the same thing may have also happened to metroidvania, what people consider to be a metroidvania game has probably change and shifted over time and may in fact include Banjo-Tooie.

I'm not saying that Tooie is a metroidvania game, I agree with you there, but just because a few people that believe with every fibre in their body that the world is flat doesn't make it so (exaggeration I know but hopefully you get my point).
Vitiated1
834,549
Vitiated1
Posted on 13 October 17 at 12:37
How is Metroid Prime not a Metroidvania? Hell, the entire last part of the game consists of revisiting old interconnected areas of the map once you have all the beams and the Phazon suit in order to get enough artifacts to unlock the final area. The entire game consists of acquiring upgrades to open up and explore new areas, usually by revisiting old ones. Within the first 30 minutes of the game you pass by at least 2 areas you can't fully explore until you get the Boost Ball, Spider Ball, and Plasma Beam.

My point? Don't restrict it to 2D games only if a 3D game 100% fits the definition. Should this genre (and most others) be stricter? Absolutely. Just don't put the rope around it too tight.
Skeptical Mario
Posted on 13 October 17 at 12:49
I approve of a change to the definition. Unlike the more categorical genres like Strategy and Sports, Metroidvania is a niche genre only added for it's popularity. It's appropriate for such a genre to have a more narrow definition, even to require very specific elements, if we can come anywhere close to a consensus.

I don't know if I'd support a definition as narrow as Dwaggie's, but thats what the discussion should be about.
HarrySon9
596,238
HarrySon9
Posted on 13 October 17 at 13:10
While I think most Metroidvanias are 2D I think there are some 3D games that are literally the same thing just from a different perspective. Arkham Asylum is the perfect fit as it plays by all the same rules as say Super Metroid but is in a different perspective. They still have somewhat linear gameplay with abilities you can gain to traverse previous areas to pick up Missile upgrades or in Batman’s case, Riddler trophies. To say 3D is excluded entirely is unfair when it follows the same rule set. On that note I do not think Banjo-Tooie or say Zelda/Darksiders fit into the same category of Metroidvania but I’m not eloquent enough in my own thoughts/speech to really have a convincing argument. I also find the specific genres this site has started to put on games and making them really depend on specific people’s opinions is unfair. I’ve known Misfit for a long time and I disagree with his opinion on this but what can I do. Fighting with others on a website most people don’t even know about is foolish to me so while I may not agree I’m not mad about it.

I typically stay away from forums but that’s just my two cents.
Zonrith1
550,296
Zonrith1
Posted on 13 October 17 at 13:25, Edited on 13 October 17 at 13:28 by Zonrith1
I'm not going to support blanket removal of 3D games just because they are 3D, FYI. That ship sailed in the original discussion; there was widespread support for it then and I believe widespread support for it now. If the majority of the Genre Team is in favor of such a switch, obviously it will happen, but I'm not backing that (only fair to declare this upfront, in my view).

What I would like to explore is this part of the definition:
A core component of the genre features players earning new abilities and/or items which allow them to explore previously inaccessible areas.

What if this were more specific (i.e., strict)? For example, what if a sentence were added, such as:
These abilities/items must function as more than simply keys, by also conferring capabilities helpful to gameplay (e.g., combat).

A provision like this would disqualify any game that is solely about finding an item to unlock another location. You'd need more. Like double-jumping, it may let you reach the next area but it also is helpful in avoiding enemy fire. A hook shot might let you cross that chasm but maybe it also can be used to attack enemies.

Thoughts on this? Does it kill off games that *should* be Metroidvania? Does it solve a lot of the perceived existing problems? Language was rapidly created, so it undoubtedly would need improvement even if the idea is helpful.

Another definition section that I'd be interested in discussing:
Backtracking is also a core element of the genre (generally for progression purposes).

Thoughts if we were to mandate progression purposes? Backtracking for collectibles would not longer count, you'd actually NEED to backtrack in order to get further in the game's story. This one was discussed in the original definition formation, and there was support for the less strict approach adopted, but perhaps it should be back in play. At least, I personally can get on board with putting it into play.

I'll continue reading the other ideas and suggestions as they come about, regardless. Thanks!
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