The absence of Samus Aran, is a good thing!
By Jason Parks (GrimlockTheDino)
There was a time in my life that I would say, "Give me Metroid or give me nothing!" Most of you know me as the GameZilla Metroid super fan, but as I continue to play new Metroidvania games, I find myself realizing the absence of Samus Aran has brought life to some new games and characters.
The Metroidvania genre is defined as games that feature a large interconnected map (parts of which are often limited by doors) and obstacles which require abilities, tools, or weapons to access; Metroidvania games encourage exploration and experimentation because of this unique map design. Experimentation is one of my favorite concepts in this genre, as it allows for gamers to attempt multiple ways to complete the game. One player may want to explore and find every single item in the game, whereas another player wants to see how little they need to complete the game.
The newcomers have taken the Metroidvania concepts and blended them to create unique hybrids that are some of the most enjoyable games I have ever played. I love Super Metroid and it will always be one of my favorite games, but the first time I picked up Ori and the Blind Forest, I fell in love with the world, characters, and music, and the game felt familiar because, at the heart of the design, sat a wonderful Metroidvania game. I quickly realized I have a favorite genre, not just a favorite game.
So why is the absence of Samus Aran a good thing? Because it drove creative individuals to develop these games. So many of my favorite Metroidvania titles are inspired by the Metroid or Castlevania franchises; neither series has seen proper support from their parent companies (Nintendo and Konami), and the drought has caused the fans of the Metroidvania genre to create their own worlds and characters. Games like Ori and the Blind Forest, Guacamelee 1&2, Cave Story, Shadow Complex, SteamWorld Dig 1&2, Hollow Knight, Dead Cells, and so many others. The genre of Metroidvania has never been so alive, and the majority of the credit goes to the indie development scene!
I always wish and hope for new Metroid games (unless it is named Metroid Prime Federation Forces), but this new generation of Metroidvania games have filled the genre with exciting worlds, characters, and stories. I will be ready for Samus Aran's next adventure, but I am happy to have plenty of other adventures to enjoy while I wait.