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Igavania

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Symphony of the Night - Map - 01

Igavania, also referred to as Metroidvania or Castletroid, is an umbrella term used to describe certain Castlevania video games that generally focus on exploring a map rather than straightforward progression; similar to Nintendo's Super Metroid. Games commonly referred to as "Igavanias" include Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and other 2-D games from the series that followed in a similar style: Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, Aria of Sorrow, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia.

The term is sometimes broadened to refer to any of former series producer Koji Igarashi's games, including 3-D games such as Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness.[1]

Name originEdit

Igavania gets its name from Koji Igarashi, one of the lead designers for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and producer of several other Castlevania games. On the main page of his kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, he gives the definition as being "A Gothic, exploration-focused action platformer, designed by one of the godfathers of the genre!".[2]

While Igavania has been used to describe this type of game as early as 2005,[3] the term "metroidvania" is much more widely used among fans and press. It is a portmanteau of two video game series titles: Konami's Castlevania (itself a portmanteau) and Nintendo's Metroid. The word was coined to reflect the incorporation of gameplay elements (particularly exploration-based gameplay) from Super Metroid into 1997's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and is used primarily by the gaming press and people familiar with the Castlevania franchise. 

While Igavania generally refers specifically to games produced or worked on by Koji Igarashi, metroidvania is frequently associated with any game that follows a similar style to Metroid and Igavania games, regardless of whether or not they are Castlevania or Metroid games. 

Critical receptionEdit

Castlevania - Symphony of the Night (gamebox)

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997) was the first game in the series that implemented the "Igavania" gameplay.

Although the press admitted that Symphony of the Night was "laid out in a very similar configuration" to Super Metroid, it was not criticized for incorporating elements from Nintendo's game.[4] In fact, the reaction was quite the opposite; the decision was praised for breathing new life into the series, "It's impressive how Konami has combined the best aspects of Nintendo's Super Metroid with their own expert character design, and knack for drama".[5]

Subsequent Igavanias have fared well critically,[6] although the question of if they will live up to or surpass Symphony of the Night often plagues discourses on the games.[7]

Elements associated with MetroidvaniasEdit

Distinct features associated with the Igavania formula are non-linear, exploration-based gameplay and power-ups. Typical gameplay involves exploring the game-world and discovering areas that cannot be accessed at the current time. Finding an item (either a key or a special ability) usually grants access to the new section of the game. Some upgrade items are needed to obtain others, lending a sense of structure, sequence and linearity to the game. This structure is often vital in creating a coherent plot by ensuring that events that progress the storyline are triggered in the proper order.

Despite this implicit structure, industrious players often pride themselves on sequence breaking these games. One example is traversing the Underground Waterway in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon before receiving the Cleansing magic item, which purifies the poisoned water that fills the level. Sans purification, the water damages hero, Nathan Graves. This obstacle was intended to prevent players from prematurely progressing to an event in which Camilla (the level's boss) reveals storyline information and subsequently obtaining the Roc Wing (an item that allows access to several other castle areas) with her defeat.

The original Metroid and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest blazed the trail for the metroidvanias. Both were based heavily on non-linear, side-scrolling exploration, with areas that could only be reached after attaining items in other areas. However, neither had the automatic mapping feature or any real semblance of plot that can be found in the metroidvanias that followed. Castlevania games after Simon's Quest returned to a strictly linear, or branching-path linear, structure until the arrival of Symphony of the Night.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Review by Eric Qualls.
  2. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iga/bloodstained-ritual-of-the-night/description
  3. http://www.shapermc.com/2005/07/
  4. GameFan [April, 1997], page 33.
  5. Computer and Videogames Magazine (UK).
  6. Press review scores at Gamestats.com:
  7. Hardcore Gamer, Issue 4.

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