Koji Igarashi, the assistant director on PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, is widely credited with establishing what came to be known as metroidvania. In a new episode of Limited Run’s Games Behind the Games, he explains how Zelda, and not Metroid, was the primary inspiration for the game that started it all.
The Games Behind the Games is a docuseries digging into some of the industry’s most iconic games by looking at the earlier games that inspired them. During the course of the interview, Igarashi plays A Link To The Past while explaining why it was the key inspiration for the ways Symphony of the Night differed from previous Castlevania titles.
“Back then there were many action games where the goal was to clear the stage,” Igarashi explains. “This game, however, was focused on exploration. It is still an action game with defeating enemies, but it lets you explore the map.” He describes how it seemed like the first game to let you play for a long time–while other action games still held on to the fast-playing arcade formula, designed to part players from their quarters.
While Igarashi explains that he focused on A Link To The Past over other Zelda games because of the standout quality of its game design, he says the elements that most inspired him from Zelda were “the focus on exploration and defining the thing that unlocks the next area.”
While most of the elements that made Koji Igarashi’s games so iconic are now the standard in game design, it’s always worth looking back to remember where those game-changing elements came from. For players wanting to look back, A Link To The Past is available for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.
Games Behind the Games has also previously talked to River City Girls director Adam Tierney about how 16-bit classic Flashback: The Quest for Identity inspired his games.
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