Post by elektrolurch on Oct 16, 2015 11:04:36 GMT -5
Metroid is often seen as the pioneer of the genre. But there are many, sadly mostly unkown, exploration based games for home computers from the late 80ies and early 90ies, which share some degree of elements with Metroid, but also have a lot great touches to themselves, and often are ignored when talking about the history of the genre. I wanted to discuss those here, since I've been fascinated by them recently..
First off, Exile, released first on the BBC Micro in 1988, with Versions for ZX Spectrum, c64,Atari ST, Amiga and also an advanced Amiga AGA version being released later. I prefer the Amiga non AGA port due to its cool string soundtrack. It is very exploration heavy,has some puzzle elements, and really amazed me with a lot of almost anachronistic elements. For instance, it has regenerating health, and you set your own checkpoints. And it starts you without any weapons! You explore the underground caves of a planet, which are filled with live-not only robots and stuff, no, wasps, birds,frogs...It even has physics engine! Feels really alive. On the other hand, it has some annoying control issues, it is very counter intuitive at times, picking up and using items can be hard.
I'll ad more when I come to it. Cann you think of any more? What are your experiences with the genre in this time period outside the usual suspects?
Post by Exhuminator on Oct 16, 2015 12:06:24 GMT -5
The most impressive early "metroidvania" I can think of that actually preceded Metroid is Below the Root. It was released in 1984 and was incredibly impressive for its time. Insofar as world exploration goes:
Most of the gameplay focused on the challenges of getting the character to move around the game world. Various objects in the game were used for this. Of primary importance was the shuba, a flying-squirrel-like garment which allows the character to glide diagonally instead of falling, and also prevented the character from being hurt by falls. Along the way, one learns a variety of "Spirit skills" or psychic abilities of progressive difficulty. The Spirit-skills, which included telepathy (called "pensing"), telekinesis (called "kiniporting") and the ability to make tree branches grow to create temporary bridges across impassible gaps ("grunspreking") are the key to making progress in the game world and achieving the ultimate goal. Communicating with animals as well as people through telepathy is vital to enhancing the character's Spirit-skills.
This genre is what basically the UK scene largely fell into with the success of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, particularly if it was a sidescrolling platformer (e.g., Starquake, the Dizzy franchise, etc.) or espescially isometric platformer (e.g., Knight's Lore, Sweevo's WWhirled, Batman, etc.) All before Metroid.
Then there's Montezuma's Revenge (1983) and Impossible Mission ('84) from the U.S.
Releasing the same year as Metroid, there's Radwarrior, aka The Sacred Armour of Antiriad. The game is very short if you know what you're doing, but shares some odd similarities with Metroid, namely that you start off in a weakened state and slowly find upgrades.
Ovine by Design would later release a remake. It's a bit on the ugly side, but fairly accurate to the original game.
Another Amiga/PC one that's pretty cool is D-Generation. Very hard though.
I love D-Generation,played it back in the day a lot- but what makes it a Metroidvania in your opinion? I always thought of it as kind of a puzzle game;) I mean it is kind of linear,and exploration is not really what defines it. Good game though.
That said, Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, on the Atari VCS/2600 in 1983 had horizontally and vertically connected screens, making a huge world to explore.
I know when Metroid came out. Still, when you see Exile for instance, it is so different and way less action oriented, I'm not even sure it is directly inspired by Metroid. I'd argue there is a second lineage with european exploration driven 2d games that,while they share a lot of aspects with Metroid, esp. regarding atmosphere, but they are still pretty much their own thing.
An interesting aspect is the 3D one I did not really think about before though. I'd say an early series of this type of gameplay style would be the Mercenary Series (started in 1985).Specifically the second part, Damocles.
The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that the main difference between Metroid-clones and the european games is that the latter ones have less action, more exploration, more puzzles and are not as much focussed on the idea "get item x to acces area z".