Riddle me this, oh digital traveler... what is one of the finest SNES-era action adventure platformers to ever see the light of day? Now slap yourself briskly across the chops with a white dueling glove if you answered anything other than Super Metroid. Who would have ever suspected that Metroid would join forces with the esteemed Castlevania series to inspire a new genre? Metroidvania games, as they're called, are titles generally characterised by gameplay in a big, open world that encourages exploration, is packed with secrets, and has a ton of upgrades for players to discover and unlock. One of the best loved examples of this is 2005 indie darling Cave Story, but here are three more games to scratch that "gotta unlock 'em all" itch!
- Level Up! - You may have heard it said that diamonds are a girl's best friend, but that's only if you can't get your hands on any magical enchanting red gems. This charming and goofy but unexpectedly deep little game from Nifty Hat follows a young girl who wakes up one morning to find a boy who apparently fell from the sky and crash landed outside her house. If she can track down these crimson jewels and bring them back to him, he might regain his memory even as she unlocks new powers herself... but that's easier said than done when she seems to be suffering memory loss every day herself. The game has a fantastic retro aesthetic and a strange world well worth exploring that combine to make this an easy choice for gamers who haven't tried a Metroidvania game before to leap right into the genre.
- endeavor - While a lot of players drew a lot of comparisons with Shadow of the Colossus, just as many fell in love with this sweeping, sprawling game about a dwarf, scorned for being a runt, who falls from his home in the mountains and discovers an entire world below the clouds. One full of magic, mystery, and quite possibly the key to making his clansmen respect him. While the world you explore had a tendency to feel a little empty, with NPCs somewhat on the scarce side, it was also huge and packed with different areas, secrets, and power-ups. A surprisingly engrossing atmosphere, and sparse but effective and intriguing storytelling definitely make this one to check out, especially if you've ever been considered the runt of the litter yourself. Although... we recommend not expecting the same results if you hurl yourself off a cliff. (World of magic not guaranteed and all that.)
- Robot Wants Kitty - The series that made Hamumu a star arguably began with one orange kitten. (See? Told you cats rule and all other pets drool!) You play a robot of limited capabilities who desperately wants the cat that looks like it's juuuuuuust out of reach, and must explore a big, hostile environment to track down all the various weapons and upgrades he needs to finally get a furball to call his own. The game's fantastic style, silly premise, and variety of things to discover made it an instant hit with gamers who loved old-school platforming gameplay. Is it any wonder it went on to inspire three more successful installments, and our own banner game? Now that's one greedy robot!
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!