Who knew all the way back in 1987 that a little game called Metroid would pretty much singlehandedly create an entire genre of videogaming that would still be thriving over 30 years later? As one of the first open world games, it challenged players to memorize its labyranthine caverns and methodically eliminate dead ends, cataloguing specific areas and rooms for exploration at a later time when equipped with the right upgrade. If Mario with his straightforward run and jumping was like checkers, then Metroid was like Chess, requiring from players more than just pushing right on the d-pad until you reached the flagpole.
I remember staying up late at night (early morning) with the music at low volumes and my fright levels at nine, dreading both the cruel creatures waiting to murder me in the cavernous depths of Brinstar, and one of my parents waking up to find me not fast asleep on a school night. If they found me out, and they often would, they'd take the power adapter to my NES away for weeks at a time. But it was a punishment well risked as the joys of exploring Zebes and finding hidden missile packs was worth whatever punishments would be doled out on me when I was caught.
In 1994 I experienced Super Metroid in much the same way, as an adult now, but in one long over night binge with a friend of mind as we took turns hoping to beat the game before it had to be returned to the video store the next day. We were successful, taking only the occasional smoke (smoking's bad, kids...don't ever start) break to gush about the game and ponder our way out of a particularly perplexing impasse. That first 16 hour playthrough session would not be my last as Super Metroid became my most played game throughout my college years.
So my love for the Metroidvania genre is grounded in these classics. I've definitely enjoyed my fair share of the Vania aspects of this portmanteau, but my first and true love was Metroid and to me the only reason I even allow the Vania part of this genre to remain is that Metroidvania sounds way cooler than Metroid-style games.
So for this thread I thought it would be cool if we all shared our personal stories with this genre and what has made it so special to each of you. What are your favorite titles that fit in this genre. Do you prefer the 2D or the 3D games? And where would you like to see the genre go next?