Metroidvania[lower-alpha 1] is a subgenre of action-adventure video games focused on guided non-linearity and utility-gated exploration and progression. The term is a portmanteau of the names of the video game series Metroid and Castlevania, with games in the genre borrowing from both series. Typically based on two-dimensional, sidescrolling platform gameplay, Metroidvania games feature a large interconnected world map the player can explore, though access to parts of the world is often limited by doors or other obstacles that can only be passed once the player has acquired special items, tools, weapons, abilities, or knowledge within the game. Acquiring such improvements can also aid the player in defeating more difficult enemies and locating shortcuts and secret areas, and often includes retracing one's steps across the map. Through this, Metroidvania games include tighter integration of story and level design, careful design of levels and character controls to encourage exploration and experimentation, and a means for the player to become more invested in their player character through role-playing game elements.

The first Metroid game in 1986 established principles of the non-linear platformer that were refined through multiple iterations, with Super Metroid in 1994 considered to have polished the style of gameplay core to Metroidvanias. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in 1997 is considered the defining Metroidvania game, incorporating role-playing game elements from The Legend of Zelda series with non-linear traversal within the Castlevania series; most subsequent Castlevania games followed its approach and refined the genre. Symphony of the Night's assistant director, Koji Igarashi, is credited with establishing key principles of Metroidvanias through his work on other Castlevania games. In the 2000s, a resurgence in Metroidvanias came about due to several critically praised, independently developed games.

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