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A term that first appeared to describe Castlevania: Symphony of the Night because of the similarities in structure to Super Metroid. Since then, games with an upgrade system and exploration as free as Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are describable with this term.

Origin[]

While platform games originate in 1981 with Donkey Kong, it took several years before the concept of a platform game set in an open, interconnected world where you need to accomplish several objectives emerged. Interestingly enough, once it did, it did all at once - the concept first seems to appear in the year 1984, with several games - Pitfall 2, Jet Set Willy and Montezuma's Revenge. Notably, among these Montezuma's Revenge is the only game were chunks of the open world were blocked off by a lock and key system - however, in this early iteration, that was completely literal and referred to actual keys.

Over time, the genre refined, with games like Brain Breaker, Sacred Armor of Antiriad and Metroid adding ability upgrades to the core gameplay - that is, abilities that let the player explore previously unaccessible areas. While Metroid is far from the first Metroidvania, it was a huge hit and popularized the genre.

Rise of modern Metroidvania[]

In the new millennium, big gaming companies largely stopped making 2D platformers, as the big money was in 3D action games. However, this allowed indie creators to take center stage, and create games like Cave Story - while CV is not set in an interconnected open world and as such is not a metroidvania, it is heavily inspired by Super Metroid.

Eventually, indie metroidvanias started flooding in, with La-Mulana being probably one of the earliest and the better known examples. This was eventually followed by other indie attempts like Aquaria, VVVVVV, and Guacamelee, which led to the explosion in popularity for this genre.

Further development[]

Second revolution would happen with the release of Rogue Legacy, that combined the metroidvania genre with an action-RPG roguelike. This mix of metroidvania and roguelike would prove very popular, resulting in many other games like Dead Cells, A Robot Called Fight and Chasm.

Another common combination is mixing roguelike world design with a combat similar to Dark Souls series of games, several games drawing inspiration from it - for example Momodora: Reverie Under Moonlight, Blood Alloy, and Salt And Sanctuary.

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