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Gateless Vania

So core to the style of video game called Metroidvania, Igavania or Metroid-like games is the idea of gated areas and then items to unlock those gates.

But would’t it be pretty awesome to have a game in that style but without those gates?

A 2d sidescroller (sprites or polygons, doesn’t matter) similar to something like Metroid or Symphony of the Night but where you could go to Mother Dracula right away if you wanted.

Combine the openness of Breath of the Wild (and to a lesser extent A Link Between Worlds) with sidescrolling 2d!

You’d still have an incentive to explore the Castle Planet because you’d want items, powers, become stronger or just because it’s fun.

Hearts vs XP

Metroid and Zelda makes you stronger through hearts (“tanks” in Metroid) – you’re more likely to survive more dangerous fights. But you can still have a chance against the most dangerous enemies in the game.

That’s much better for an open world experience than XP that some of the Igavania games use. We don’t want areas that you can’t meaningfully interact with because your attacks are too weak. We do want areas that you might think are risky or dangerous when you are low on hearts.

This is the one innovation that Dungeons & Dragons added in their fifth edition, going to a Zelda-like “you just gain more HP, and more attacks, as you level up” over their previous system where you needed to level up in order for your attacks to even hit at all vs stronger foes. (Castlevania and many other video game series were inspired by D&D, with the Famicom edition of Simon’s Quest even using the cover art from a D&D book, I6 Ravenloft.)

Theme and gameplay

I’ve had an unrelated idea for a video game for a long time, and maybe it’s a good idea to mash it up with this one, or maybe it’s better as a separate project, but here goes:

Inspired visually by NES era ninja games like Ninja Gaiden, Shadow of the Ninja, and Wrath of the Black Manta, especially the cut scenes and varied visuals of the Ninja Gaiden series (the old ones) , but inspired gameplaywise by… WarioWare! Your goal as a ninja is to infiltrate a castle and you’d do that by playing well-designed, discrete minigames that you’d branch in and out of as you explore the castle. Going into the air ducts and you get the air duct controls, trying to disguise yourself as a cook doing kitchen work and you get the cooking controls etc etc. With platforming controls as the glue between those sections.

Ideas for minigames:

Again, that might be a fun separate game and not necessarily be this game, but… that’s at least a separate idea.

A new old take on Rogue

The original Rogue-style games (of which I’m most familiar with Nethack) generated a large world for you to explore. It didn’t have the emphasis on short runs that later roguelite games like Cave Noire added. Instead, it was a full, multilevel affair with many nooks and crannies.

So one idea is a randomly generated Castlevania castle, but the entire castle (and if this is too amitious, maybe for the sequel).

And, (unlike Nethack, where you get one try at each dungeon) you can type in custom seed numbers! You can keep on exploring the same castle over and over again, continue when you die etc. Let’s say you roll up seed 141251. You’d then play at that seed, try over and over again, continue, respawn (perhaps quick respawns a la VVVVVV, one of my fave Metroid-like games). You’d still be in the 141251 Castle Planet for as long as you wanted. And when you wanted a fresh challenge you’d roll up a new number. You could type in the same number as a friend, sharing ideas and progress without either of you being able to resort to external walkthroughs and guides.