Castlevania and Metroid. The battles of the Belmont family and Samus Aran have long legacies all the way back to the original NES in ’86, and both parties are still duking it out with monsters and space pirates to the likes and dislikes of critics today (the Phoenix’s own Mitch Krpata gave Other M a resounding “meh”). But let us return to a simpler time, back when 2D side-scrollers were all the rage and no one rage-quit a game just for having yet another pre-rendered cut scene – the 90s.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was a huge turning point in the Castlevania series. No longer were you trapped in a linear platformer; you now had the freedom to explore, with new weapons and power-ups as a reward for your thorough searching. The story is predictable but entertaining: you play as Alucard, and in order to free the world from evil, you must slay your father, Dracula. Who could resist a protagonist with such a clever name? (Read it backwards. Heh.)
SotN also signaled the franchise's return to RPG elements; these became so ingrained in later Castlevanias that the ancient days of Belmonts battling bats with a chain whip would be relegated to bonus modes for those seeking a challenge or a bit of nostalgia.
Super Metroid represents an equally important turning point for the Metroid franchise. Just as SotN is oft cited as the best Castlevania title, so too is Super Metroid considered to be the zenith of Samus Aran’s career as bounty hunter extraordinaire. After the success of the first two games in the series, Super Metroid super missiled itself into the next generation of gaming platforms, the SNES. New upgrades? Check. Cute, adorable creatures to help you on your way? Check. Epic boss battles against giant lizard abominations, brain dinosaurs, and your kick-ass dragon rival? Triple check! Also, if you finish the game fast enough, you can achieve the coveted swimsuit ending.
These two games share many similarities in terms of style, gameplay, and graphics. They're even both direct sequels. The only difference seems to be whether you prefer ranged weapons or the finesse of decapitating disembodied Medusa heads with a sword. These two games have so much in common that gamers have invented a genre called “Metroidvania” or “Castleroid” (not to be confused with Haloid) to describe games inspired by these two franchises. You’d be hard pressed to find a gamer that likes one of these games but not the other.
So what vote would I suggest to Laser Orgy 500 players? Allow me to explain my position with a history lesson: Super Metroid (1994) actually came out a couple years before SotN (1997). So, even though I’ve spent countless hours playing and replaying every Castlevania game I can get my hands on, as well as some Metroid games I’d prefer to forget (how many of you actually played Fusion the whole way through? Probably about as many as played Order of Ecclesia), I have to admit that without Super Metroid, my beloved Castlevania series wouldn’t have blossomed into the beautiful flower of pure awesomeness that it is today. And so, I’d be honored to shake Samus Aran’s hand and award her with my vote. (Now if only Samus would run for president. Till then I’ll keep praying for a True Peace in Space.)
That's my opinion -- what's yours? What’s the defining feature that makes you pick one "Metroidvania" over the other?
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