Community Spotlight: Metroidvanias.com

Chatty's zolointo recently celebrated the second anniversary of his PC Metroidvania chronicle site, Metroidvanias.com. Shacknews spoke to the Shacknews community member about his site and some of the best games in the genre that have hit the PC platform.

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Though it's only April, this year has proven to be a strong one for Metroidvanias. Shacknews has already issued high accolades to Ori and the Blind Forest and Axiom Verge, two fantastic representatives of the genre. There are plenty of Metroidvania enthusiasts among the Shacknews community, but perhaps none are bigger than Chatty's zolointo. An avid PC gamer, zolointo is eager to spread awareness of the Metroidvania genre across the platform. That's why he created a site called Metroidvanias (with a logo crafted by Chatty's own jane911), which just recently celebrated its second anniversary.

To learn more about Metroidvanias, I took some time to talk to zolointo about the site's recent milestone, as well as some of his favorites in the genre.

Shacknews: What made you want to start Metroidvanias.com?

zolointo: There were a few sites that were covering the genre. Squalid Pumpkin's and Jeremy Parish's were great, but neither covered a lot of what was happening in the indie scene, nor were updated frequently enough.

I decided to attempt to fill that void. My goal was to present an easy to browse stream of games, as well as a database for anyone to use as they saw fit.

Shacknews: What's your opinion on the continuing rise of this genre, particularly on PC?

zolointo: I feel like this question needs a little bit on my opinion of The M-Word. Metroidvania, to me, is a package of elements: exploration, platforming, RPG stats, and traversal abilities that function as keys to unlock new areas. Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night are extremely well made games that do not make for easy imitation. I don't think anything has dethroned either.

What's great about the PC scene is the ocean of people making games and plethora of free/inexpensive tools available to do so. There's a massive amount of experimentation in removing, adding, and enhancing the above core elements. Bundle sites and indie storefronts, as well as Steam, offer further potential rewards to devs.

Shacknews: How do you feel that Metroidvanias.com has grown since you started it two years ago?

zolointo: The site has shifted from being a niche genre collection to being a niche genre collection with a small reputation. I did a lot of reaching out to devs when I was starting out, and now people come knocking on my inbox with games to show off.

To be honest, I don't fully understand what impact I've had. My awareness ends at my Google Analytics graph, which I still don't fully understand how to read. Many of the registered Twitter and tumblr followers are game developers, so I hope that publishing other devs' work provides an amount of inspiration.

Shacknews: What are some of your favorite Metroidvanias to come out of the last few years?

There are two that immediately come to mind, mostly because I have a soft spot for indie underdogs: Treasure Adventure Game and Project Adventure Game. No relation between the two. TAG is getting all HD-reincarnated as Treasure Adventure World, but looks like we won't see it until 2016. And if you download PAG, know that starting without a weapon is not a bug.

Guacamelee, Strider, Rex Rocket, and Elliot Quest are all solid and accessible choices that get my thumbs up, too.

My most 'undergroundiest' favorite is Booloid by messhof of Nidhogg fame. It doesn't even show up on his site any longer... but you can grab a copy from me here. Note that this won't run on anything except WinXP/98, so you'll have to dust off that virtual machine or ask eldersveld for a loaner.

And one final plug: Lyle in Cube Sector. It's Metroid + Super Mario Brothers 2. Really unique platforming mechanics at just the right difficulty level.

Shacknews: How do you envision the site growing over the next couple of years?

zolointo: The most common ask is for the site to cover console games. This would be more of a historical documentation effort as the console-specific Metroidvania scene is fairly silent. Most MVs that show up on console are cross-published on PC. I'd have to bring on one or more contributors to handle that as there's way too much going on in PC-land.

I'd also like to port the content over to a proper website. tumblr's tag system is an extremely poor way to try to mimic a database.

Shacknews: What's the one Metroidvania you're looking forward to in the coming year?

zolointo: #1 is definitely Axiom Verge [http://www.axiomverge.com/]. Anyone who has been waiting for a no-question-that-this-is-a-Metroidvania game, this is it.

I'm not going to cheat the question and say that Environmental Station Alpha, to be released on April 22, is another that I'm dying to play through.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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