As is usual the “All-Time Top” bit is hyperbole, and this should just be read as “my 5 favourites”. Also I know it’s cool to hate on the term Metroidvania, but I like how it describes a genre so I’m keeping it.
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5) Yoku’s Island Express
A game I’ve gushed about on a couple of occasions. Both here on my blog, and at some length on the Video Pinball episode of the Maximum Power-Up Podcast.
Pinball and platforming isn’t entirely new, thanks Sonic Spinball, but to my mind this is the first crossover of Video Pinball and a Metroidvania. Pinroidvania? A portmanteau too far me thinks.
This is a joyful little game, and I’m really hoping we get a follow up.
4) Axiom Verge
When you see below that I’ve never played Super Metroid, you’ll realise that a lot of what Axiom Verge was doing was wasted on me. However, I have seen enough Super Metroid to know that Axiom Verge is very much a love letter to that game.
I really enjoyed this anyway, and if anything it really made me want to play Super Metroid even more.
3) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Pains me not to put this in first place to be honest, and I certainly wouldn’t challenge someone else having it as their first choice. I love the Castlevania series, and for me this one has never been bettered.
I discussed this (and the rest of the games in the series) with Phil on the Castlevania episode of Maximum Power-Up Podcast, which was also my first appearance with the on the show.
If you fancy playing Symphony of the Night, the original PlayStation game is now rather pricey. However there are numerous digital ways to play via the Xbox & PlayStation stores. There are versions that can be played on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PSP, PS3, PS Vita and PS4.
2) WonderBoy: The Dragon’s Trap
In my first draft, this was going to be number 1. Although that’s just because I started drafting this before I played the top title. WonderBoy 3: The Dragon’s Trap was my first game played in the genre, way back on my Sega Master System.
My love for it is heavily based on nostalgia, but after playing this remake when it came out on PS4, I found that my love was well deserved. Still a fantastic game today.
1) Hollow Knight
I initially resisted playing Hollow Knight, being put off by the comparisons to Dark Souls that I’d been hearing. I finally gave in to it because another friend kept going on about it and I wanted something to get stuck into on the Switch after I finished Golf Story.
I’m pleased to report that while you can see Dark Souls style systems in a couple of places, it’s no where near as frustrating as those. Not only is Hollow Knight the best Metroidvania I’ve ever played, I’m starting to wonder if it might deserve a place in the All-Time Top 5 Games (it would certainly be in a Top 10). It is stunning, the music is great, I adore the art style and it’s really satisfying to play. It is undoubtedly the most challenging game on this list, but hey if I can do it…
Ori and the Blind Forest
This was excellent, but I’m mostly keeping it from the top 5 out of spite. I resented the switch to “pixel perfect” style platforming for a section after each boss. Each time I had to deal with it left a sour taste.
Hoping there will be less of that in the upcoming sequel, but not holding my breath. Will definitely be getting involved either way.
Ori on Amazon* – this is the Xbox One edition, where it was originally a console exclusive. It is however also available on PC, and I believe coming to Switch
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Yeah, I’m a huge fan of this series, but although it’s certainly a Metroidvania in many ways, I’m keeping this list to 2D games.
Batman Return to Arkham on Amazon* – This is the PS4 polished version of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Personally love both games, so a good option
Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin are both great metroidvanias, and I thoroughly enjoyed both. Decided I only wanted one Castlevania in the top 5 though, and had to make way for the King, Symphony of the Night.
You can get these on Amazon* but they are pricey now!
Along with Symphony of the Night, Super Metroid is largely responsible for us having this genre as a thing. I’m still yet to play it properly as I never had a SNES back in the day.
I did intend to play the Virtual Console version on the Wii, but I’m now holding out for a version I can play on Switch. It must be on the way, right?
The most recent game on this list that I played & completed back in June. It is really good, but as it’s an unashamed clone of Symphony of the Night, it can’t really go in the Top 5. Definitely worth a go if you want more of that.
I think this may be digital only, but well worth picking up. I played on the Switch and I’m pretty sure it’s also on PS4, Xbox and PC. Possibly even on the Vita.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
From what I’ve heard, this could well earn a place on my list in the future. A spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night by the same creator, this metroidvania has my name written all over it. I did get hands on a pre-release version at EGX Rezzed.
Haven’t played the full game yet though, mostly because apparently the Switch port suffers poor performance, and that’s the version I wanted to play. Waiting to see if that gets improved by patches, or if a super deal arrives on one of the other formats.
Bloodstained on Amazon* As above I’m definitely not recommending the Switch port