Former Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi may be best known for his “Metroidvania” takes on the classic vampire-hunting series. But at a GDC 2014 panel on Friday entitled “There and Back Again: Koji Igarashi’s Metroidvania Tale,” he revealed that Samus Aran and her Mother Brain–blasting adventures weren’t actually the inspiration for his groundbreaking 1997 2D action opus, Symphony of the Night—The Legend of Zelda was.
“We really wanted to extend the life of the game, and the one game that popped up in our heads was The Legend of Zelda, an exploration-filled action game,” Igarashi said at the panel. “Pretty much our entire team, including myself, were huge fans of the game, and we wanted to make something very similar. So, now you know the origin of inspiration actually wasn’t Metroid.”
Nowadays, “Metroidvania” refers to a side-scrolling action game—the Castlevania portion of the portmanteau—that includes the exploration elements common in Metroid titles. But without a convenient term to fall back on during the design process, what did Igarashi and his team call it at the time?
“We didn’t really have a codename for it,” Igarashi said. “It was very basic and plain, and we just called it a ‘2D-exploration action game.’ There was really nothing special about it, so there you go.”
Igarashi recently told USGamer’s Jeremy Parish that he’s since embraced the term, and he’s grateful that he can describe his future games using a term that doesn’t infringe on Konami’s trademark ownership.
The 20-year-plus industry veteran recently left Konami, where he’d been making social games for the past two years after the company outsourced development of the Castlevania series to MercurySteam. He said he yearned to go indie and create the kind of games his core fans have been clamoring for, and while the announcement wasn’t forthcoming at GDC, it seems likely we can expect an Igarashi Kickstarter campaign in the vein of Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 at some point.