Metroid 35th Anniversary - Nintendo Doesn't Call Samus Aran's Game A "Metroidvania", Why Fans Are Unhappy

There are two reasons why Nintendo isn't using the word Metroidvania

By Iyane Agossah

August 7, 2021

Legendary Nintendo series Metroid is celebrating its 35th anniversary and there’s a bit of a debate on Twitter, with some of the fans of the series unhappy with Nintendo, what happened?

Metroid Dread – Announcement Trailer – Nintendo Switch | E3 2021

Metroid Dread – Announcement Trailer – Nintendo Switch | E3 2021

Metroid 35th anniversary Twitter discourse explained

Celebrating the birthday of Metroid, first released on Famicom Disk System in 1986, Nintendo shared several birthday messages. In particular, Nintendo Japan published a new page on Metroid Dread, the newest entry of the series coming to Switch, and the first game in 19 years. The page is also introducing the series for those unfamiliar with it.

The page has a “What’s Metroid” segment, which triggered the whole debacle. I translated it below.

Metroid stars the galaxy’s strongest bounty hunter, Samus Aran, in a series of Exploration Action games. It’s a different genre than the Super Mario series, where you simply aim to reach the ending of stages one after another. Instead, the game is set in a vast stage, like a maze. You unlock more and more elements in order to constantly expend your field of action and fulfill various objectives. Samus can shoot various weapons from her right arm, from beams to missiles. She can also transform into a sphere to go through narrow passages. She also has a dash, a double jump, etc, which allows her to explore the stage. Samus is a character defined by the various actions she can execute.”

What irked some fans with this description and what started a debate is the fact that Nintendo did not use the term “Metroidvania”. Implying that the Kyoto Hanafuda company purposefully avoided using the term. Except there are logical reasons why Nintendo did not use the term.

Why Nintendo did not use “Metroidvania”

First off, Metroidvania is a term mainly used outside Japan. Game companies and fans in Japan have different terms to differentiate game genres. A good example is “Simulation RPG”, which is used in Japan for games called “Tactical RPG” or “Strategy RPG” in English, such as Fire Emblem, Super Robot Wars, or Relayer, the new Mecha game by Kadokawa Games.

Japan also uses more specific terms for certain genres, like ADV games. This designates games like 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, or The Great Ace Attorney, which are different from visual novels. However, outside Japan, these games are all commonly called visual novels. Certain Japanese games often make up their own specific genre too. This is the case for every single Tales of game, where each entry is a different genre of RPG.

In Japan, games like Metroid are called Exploration Action, which is the term Nintendo used in Japanese.

Secondly, it’d be incredibly stupid of Nintendo to say Metroid is a Metroidvania when the whole page’s aim in the first place is to explain the genre. Nintendo tries to make these pages as friendly as possible for those who don’t know much about games, and bring in potential new players.

Anyways, that’s all you should know. Metroid Dread will be launching on October 8, 2021, exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Metroid Prime 4, announced in 2017, is also still in development. This year, some pretty good Metroidvania games have been released too, such as Ender Lilies.

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Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. He speaks Japanese, has been watching anime for over 25 years, and plays Genshin Impact mainly for its story. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07.

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