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GDC 2014: Why Koji Igarashi is Grateful for the Word "Metroidvania"

Even if he does find it woefully inaccurate.

Article by Jeremy Parish, .

Long-time Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi has been out of the limelight for the past few years as the series he helped steward for so long was quietly retired and relaunched under the Lords of Shadow banner (though hardly to universal acclaim, unfortunately). Yesterday, he emerged from his lengthy radio silence to announce his departure from Konami and intention to create "the games fans want," which he'll undoubtedly elaborate on in his Game Developers Conference panel this Friday.

The title of the panel, "There and Back Again: Koji Igarashi's Metroidvania Tale," particularly caught my eye. "Metroidvania" is a fan term for the style of games he helped create, so it's interesting to see him adopt it for a discussion of his work. Bearing a good deal of responsibility for popularizing the term over the years – an act for which I feel guilty on a daily basis – I was curious to know what Igarashi thinks of the word that's become synonymous with his creations when I spoke to him earlier today.

"I was actually surprised by the name," he says. "In my heart, I really wanted to create a Legend of Zelda style game. But I suppose that when you turn Zelda into a 2D platformer, yes, it resembles Metroid." When I mentioned the connection most likely stems from the fact that Symphony of the Night uses a map that looks remarkably similar to Super Metroid's, he laughed. "I thought it was because of the game's super jump, which is very similar to Super Metroid's."

Despite its inaccuracy, Igarashi says he's grateful for the term.

"When I left Konami, they told me I couldn't use the name Castlevania when talking about my plans. So it was actually really handy that the word 'Metroidvania' existed!"

So I guess I don't have to feel quite so guilty anymore.

Expect the full text of our interview with Igarashi, which explores his new venture and the unfortunate fate of classic Castlevania in greater detail, later this week.

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Comments 18

  • Avatar for Ohoni #1 Ohoni 2 years ago
    If he wants to make some more Metroidvania games, I couldn't be happier. I haven't bothered with the lords of Shadow stuff, but I loved all the portable Castlevania games.
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  • Avatar for AxiomVerge #2 AxiomVerge 2 years ago
    This could be a really good opportunity to start over without all the expectations and requirements that must be connected to making a Castlevania game.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #3 Funny_Colour_Blue 2 years ago
    @jeremy.parish

    Jeremy, I know this is like, your career and stuff and you've probably talked to him numerous times before, ButOMGTHISISSOCOOL!YOUGETTOINTERVIEWKOJIIGARASHI!!
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #4 Stealth20k 2 years ago
    I love him.
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  • Avatar for Ohoni #5 Ohoni 2 years ago
    @AxiomVerge
    Yeah, it'll be interesting, but it also means finding a new IP base that can hold up to the game design. There are plenty of indy Metroidvanias out there that don't really interest me because they just don't look that interesting. I doubt he could get away with an Inafune-esc "Forrestellum" IP-rip. ;)
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #6 LBD_Nytetrayn 2 years ago
    Truth be told, I don't see why he can't do another that's Castlevania in all but name only. Dracula's public domain, isn't it? Even "Alucard" shows up in various other non-Vania media-- the only thing would be the Belmonts, who-- as Igarashi has proven in numerous installments-- are easily replaceable.
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  • Avatar for Sugoi #7 Sugoi 2 years ago
    @LBD_Nytetrayn This is actually a really, really good point. Castlevania is heavily inspired by classic gothic horror that is 99% public domain in the first place. A name change or two and a few new sprites and you're already most of the way towards a new IP.

    The only thing I know for sure though, is that whatever he does, I'm going to throw money at it.
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  • Avatar for Zomby-Woof #8 Zomby-Woof 2 years ago
    I'd really love to see an article detailing and chronicling this long-running exodus of iconic Japanese developers from the companies they made famous. It's been going on for a while now, and it's really disheartening to read "the unfortunate fate of classic Castlevania," because it just reminds me of all the great Japanese series that were lost or ruined for that reason.

    Remember when people used to complain that there were too many Mega Man games?
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  • Avatar for DiscordInc #9 DiscordInc 2 years ago
    That really cool that he's aware of the term. I look forward to reading the full interview when it goes up.
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #10 renatocosta90 2 years ago
    Pretty interesting! Can't wait for the full article
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  • Avatar for alexb #11 alexb 2 years ago
    All the best to Mr. Igarashi. I await his next game eagerly.
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  • Avatar for nimzy #12 nimzy 2 years ago
    In my opinion Metroidvania is one of those transitional terms like "Doom clone" that we use as shorthand for a specific genre of game until we invent a name for the genre like FPS.
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  • Avatar for abuele #13 abuele 2 years ago
    It seems that a kickstarter is brewing in the horizon...
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  • Avatar for DiscordInc #14 DiscordInc 2 years ago
    @lonecow I think the genre never transitioned away from the term since even at its height it never was really mainstream or prolific.

    By contrast, FPSes became so common so quickly that at the very least developer needed a name for their genre, since from a marketing perspective it was a bit self-defeating to be referred to as a clone of another game.
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  • Avatar for Damman #15 Damman 2 years ago
    Igarashi seems like a real cool customer. He strikes me as someone that could both lead and step into an established development role. Hopefully this move let's him work on a project he finds creatively interesting.
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  • Avatar for natebirch31 #16 natebirch31 2 years ago
    Igarashi pretty much can't get the Kickstarter up fast enough for me.

    Hmmm, also, that Photoshop on the front page looks oddly familiar!
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  • Avatar for docexe #17 docexe 2 years ago
    @DiscordInc So pretty much the same as “Roguelike”?
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  • Avatar for DiscordInc #18 DiscordInc 2 years ago
    @docexe Yeah, not a bad comparison. Plus another thing to consider is that while both of these genres a flourishing now it's in the Indie scene, who are less likely to feel self-conscious about directly referencing another game. I mean most of them wear their influences pretty plainly on their sleeve.
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