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

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

Even if he does find it woefully inaccurate.

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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