Based on the Wikipedia definition, the Metroidvania genre has roots in the Metroid and Castlevania series/games.

Metroidvania is a subgenre of the action-adventure genre of video games. The term itself is a portmanteau of the series' Metroid and Castlevania. Specifically, the term derives from the Castlevania title, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, of which is generally considered to contain certain aspects of gameplay comparable to that of the Metroid series of games. As such, the term is used to invoke gameplay concepts and mechanics similar to that of these two series. The portmanteau "Castletroid" is also used to described the genre, albeit less frequently.

While the Metroid genealogy is obvious, the Castlevania part puzzles me. Why does it refer to Symphony of the night, if the main gameplay elements defining the genre were laid in Simon's quest (and Metroid)?

Did SOTN introduce something new that I miss, that clearly defines the genre?

Note that with the context of Castlevania, I refer exclusively to Simon's quest and Symphony of the night; it's implied that the other games preceding SOTN were side-scrolling platformers.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's asking to guess the reasoning behind a choice in a Wikipedia article. Dec 14, 2017 at 13:18
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    I don't think it's so obvious. If you google "What is Metroidvania", the first references (Wikipedia aside) will also refer to SOTN rather than SQ. In a way, what's written in Wikipedia reflect the mainstream opinion, so this question reflects the latter.
    – Marcus
    Dec 14, 2017 at 15:01
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    It's off-topic, not obvious. Dec 14, 2017 at 15:05
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    Even if we disregard the source of the question, its still too subjective for us to be able to answer it. Someone coined the term. Great. We don't know who, can't know, and definitely don't know what they were thinking when they did it.
    – Frank
    Dec 14, 2017 at 16:02
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    @Frank Etymology questions have been asked before and kept as on topic, and in that case as well as this one there are non-speculative answers. Are gaming genres outside of the expertise of a gaming QA? Just because the question sources Wikipedia doesn't mean the information is invalid, articles about Metroidvanias from other sources will unequivocally place Simon's Quest after Symphony of the Night, even if the former is an early example of the genre. Dec 15, 2017 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


Because Symphony of the Night is considered by many to be the definitive Castlevania experience and an exemplary game of the Metroidvania genre.

While some of the elements that are considered to be part of the genre were introduced to Castlevania by Simon's Quest, Symphony of the Night drew inspiration from Simon's Quest and expanded and improved on these elements. Symphony of the Night offers a more complex and intertwined map to explore, a greater diversity of abilities and weapons, and delivers an experience much closer to how we view games of the genre today than Simon's Quest.

SotN also had a much better critical reception than Simon's Quest, and is remembered much better. In addition to redefining what to expect from a Castlevania game, it was also considered to be one of the best games of the era, receiving universal praise and placing on several "best games" lists.

In a nutshell, while you could point to the earliest work possible that shares traits of a genre, it is often more useful to start with the best known or most obvious examples to define it. While the first examples of art were cave drawings, if you wanted to explain how we currently think about visual art it is probably more helpful to use renaissance or more modern paintings.

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    Simon's Quest did fairly poorly outside of Japan due in part to its terrible localization... which turned the game into a Guide Dang It! game.
    – Powerlord
    Dec 14, 2017 at 23:41

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