My Metroidvania

Like everyone who plays video games, I frequently get ideas for new video games, video games that don’t yet exist. Like virtually everyone else who gets these ideas, I have no real way of transforming these ideas into anything resembling reality, so they tend to rot. Usually I’ll come up with a plot summary, or a clever gameplay mechanic, or a list of levels or bosses, and then the file in question would vanish into my computer, never to be seen or though about again.

In this case, however, things were a little unusual — rather than producing any of the above, I cranked out a list of pickups for a Metroidvania-style game. As I recall, the idea was that every pickup in the game would be in the form of a sword, and every sword would have two uses: It would give you an additional ability for exploring the castle, and it would have a unique special attack that you could use while it was equipped. The navigation ability would always be available to you for as long as you had the sword, but you would only be able to use the special attack if you had the sword equipped.

I vaguely envisioned the gameplay as being similar to a Mega Man X game while playing as Zero or another close-range character… lots of emphasis on learning attack platterns and closing the distance. Or maybe it’s the game I wanted Muramasa: The Demon Blade to be. Anyway, here’s the list (asterisks denote a pickup that would have been required to clear the game using the intended sequence):

Movement Abilities

1) Dash*

This is a dash in the Mega Man X sense, not the “every other game ever made” sense — a quick boost of speed, activated by a button. Gives you increased jump length at the expense of height, and useful for dodging.

2) Double jump*

Metroidvania staple.

3) Air dash*

Again, Mega Man X-derived — maybe a la the HX Biometal from Mega Man ZX, although that might be broken.

4) Wall kick*

Again, Mega Man-X derived.

5) Increased walking speed

Self-explanatory.

6) Increased jumping height

Self-explanatory.

7) Final key*

I generally don’t like pickups in games that do nothing but open arbitrary barriers, but I’ll make one exception. This sword would be received after defeating all the bosses, and would unlock the final boss. It would probably be the primary sword in the game’s plot as well — the one the bad guys are scouring the castle for.

8) Warping

Probably one of the last swords received. Allows you to jump directly to any save point.

Offensive Abilities

9) Red sword*
10) Blue sword*
11) White sword*
12) Black sword

These are all of a kind — collecting one would both increase the power of your sword attacks and allow you to destroy objects of the same or lower color. You’d only really need the first three to beat the game… I had the idea that there would be about a half-dozen powerful swords that that were really well-hidden and rewarded thorough exploration of the castle, and the black sword would be one.

13) Bow*

Projectile weapon. You’d probably have to toggle between this and the sword. Full-screen range and can shoot in eight directions, but not as strong as the sword, and limited ammo. Needed to hit certain switches at a distance.

14) Fire arrow*

Arrow upgrade. Hits elemental weaknesses and destroys flammable objects. Costs magic. Can’t be used without a bow, obviously.

15) Ice arrow*

Arrow upgrade. Hits elemental weaknesses and freezes enemies, allowing them to be used as platforms. Costs magic. Can’t be used without a bow.

16) Ethereal arrow

Passive arrow upgrade. This allows arrows to go through walls, and can charge them up for more damage.

17) Nova*

Power bomb analogue; destroys all enemies on screen and clears certain blocks/objects. Costs magic.

18) Spin attack

Mega Man X-derived. Tap the attack button twice while in the air for a 360-degree rotating attack.

19) Dashing slash

Hit the attack button while dashing to attack without losing momentum.

20) Mirror sword

The sword can destroy or reflect most kinds of projectiles.

21) Increased sword range

Self-explanatory… the sword is now longer. Probably a 50% boost.

22) Arrow power boost

Self-explanatory… arrows deal more damage.

23) Flare

While jumping, the heroine is enveloped in a field of energy which destroys some enemies and objects if it collides with them.

24) Combo plus

Adds additional hits to the basic sword combo, probably two.

25) Increased damage the higher % achieved

Another of the hidden bonus swords. This increases your attack power the more of the castle you’ve explored. If you find all 100%, you’ll be dealing double damage.

Attribute Improvements

26) Force field

I’m… not entirely sure what this does. I don’t have any notes on it, and I don’t remember what it was supposed to be for. Presumably it’s a shield?

27) Heavyweight*

You can move or destroy certain blocks by dashing into them. You can press certain switches that you would otherwise be unable to interact with. You sink in water instead of dog-paddling along the surface.

28) Unlimited oxygen*

Self-explanatory. Can breathe indefinitely while underwater.

29) Cipher

Allows you to read ancient text. The idea is that the ancient text contains hints leading to hidden rooms and swords.

30) Scrying

X-Ray Scope analogue. Reveals false blocks for as long as you have it activated. Costs magic.

31) Torch

Brightens dark rooms enough to see it.

32) Red armor*

Varia Suit analogue. Defense boost  and invulnerability to fire.

33) Featherweight*

Certain platforms will crumble or fall when you step on them. Featherweight prevents this from happening. It probably doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense to have both this any Heavyweight active at the same time, but I have a feeling going to the menu to activate the one you need would quickly grow irritating, so I’m willing to say “It’s magic” and let it go.

34) Signal

A la Super Mario RPG. A chime sounds each time you enter a room with an undiscovered sword — whether you can get to it yet or not.

35) Grip*

Perfect traction while on ice, and winds don’t push you around. Presumably there’s a wind tunnel somewhere that requires this to get through.

36) Black armor

Another optional bonus sword. Defense boost and invulnerability to spikes.

37) Time stop

Another optional bonus sword. Stops time for everything but yourself. Drains magic.

38) Stealth

Another optional bonus sword. Non-boss enemies don’t notice you.

39) Increased defense the higher the in-game time

Another optional bonus sword… like #25, increases your abilities the longer you’ve been playing.

Recovery/Regeneration Abilities

40) Reduced MP consumption
41) Increased recovery from items
42) HP regeneration
43) MP regeneration
44) No recoil
45) Increased mercy invincibility
46) Increased money earned

All of these are self-explanatory, I should think. I might change #46 to something else — it may be that this game doesn’t require money.

47-50) Subtanks

Obviously they would be called something else, but they’re subtank analogues from Mega Man X. Whenever you collect any form of health restoration, any excess to your max health goes into one of these, which you can drain at any time.

Inventory Upgrades

51-60) Quiver upgrades

Self-explanatory. Increases the number of arrows you can carry, probably by 10 each.

61-80) Magic upgrades

Video game standard. Increases the length of your magic bar. Presumably these would have better special attacks than usual in order to make them less boring.

81-100) Life upgrades

Video game standard.

As in Super Metroid, there would be exactly 100 pickups, so your percentage could be easily figured.

And I don’t even like Metroidvanias!

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