Lets talk about the importance of specialized movement in platformers.
First off, its best to go with the one-two hitters of the start of the Metroidvania genre: Metroid and Castlevania.
Now, Castlevania itself didn’t have too much amazing specialized movement right off the bat (heh), but I’ll go over some of its later entries in a bit. Lets start with Metroid.
First off, the classic example: the morph ball.
Immediately in Metroid, you get taught that the game isn’t just a simple platformer, where you can go left, and then get stuck (and of course if you go right without it you will get forced backwards anyway eventually), with this thing shining out of nowhere.
Upon picking it up, suddenly, you unlock the ability to turn into a ball and go ‘under’ areas where you could not normally walk.
This even evolves further with bombs later, which make it so you can blow thru blocks while in this ball mode and, with skill, propel yourself upward… infinitely even, with the proper technique.
While theres quite a few other techniques/abilities in Metroid (and especially in future entries), lets move back over to Castlevania.
One of the first major specialized movement in Castlevania comes from Castlevania 3, with the Alucard character being able to turn into a bat (plus Grant with his wall climbing and aerial control, but Alucard is the one that gets taken further in the series.)
Now, Castlevania actually had/has incredibly stiff and difficult platforming, with very unforgiving instant death pits everywhere. Being able to temporarily fly around is a godsend in a game like this, and lets a player choose to almost bypass certain difficult jumping sections (which, with the character swapping mechanic, you get to choose which one to play as and use your heart/item resources wisely).
Lets move a bit further and go to Castlevania: Bloodlines, which actually showcases two different characters with abilities that make certain paths possible/impossible.
One character, John, uses his whip to swing from platform sections, while the other, Eric, can use his spear to perform high-jumps. While theres no character swapping in this one, the character you choose at the start determines the paths you must take in the end, leading to some replay value with taking different paths as the other character.
From there, we go to where a lot of this got really advanced: Symphony of the Night, where theres so much movement tech its hard to really go over it all.
It has Alucard again, this time with back dashing, bat transformation, wolf tranformation, etc. Heck, you may as well just go here to look at the overview: SOTN Movement overview
Other games have also had some specialized movement stuff, with an early example actually being (US)Super Mario Bros. 2 (or, Doki Doki Panic, before it got Marioized). This one had 4 characters with a special advantage for each one that had their own playstyle. For example: Princess Toadstool had a limited ability to float.
With this ability, she could reach certain sections other characters could not (or at least not as easily), leading to some different paths you could take. And you could also choose your character at the start of each level, which means if you had difficulty with one character or wanted to try a different path you could swap over.
And of course, lets not forget the classic hit Bionic Commando, which had a unique movement gimmick as its major selling point (and you may have already seen images of one of our main characters using a grappling hook in a much similar fashion)
Using the grappling movement was more or less the whole point of the game, with the platforming sections built to meet the expectation (and not simply as a cool addition or a path-enabler).
To see where I’m more or less going with this, look at the game Bloodstained: Symphony of the Night, which I’ve shown before. In this game, you have four characters with the ability to swap between them at will, who each have their own minor little movement/other special (jump height, ground slide, bat tranformation, etc) which lets them access alternate paths, while the entire game is beatable using only the most basic moveset (and being forced thru more difficult areas). This is one of our major references here (well, that and Castlevania 3), but we feel that we want a lot more out of movement for each character (and something appropriate for each characters inspiration as well)
We have, of course, grappling already, for the fun movement core there.
For our other character so far, we have a slightly higher base jump and the ability to propel her using an air-kick.
We also have two other characters on the way, each with their own references and movement specials (not to mention we still need to hook up some of our dash specials!). Be sure to watch this space and our Twitter for up to date progress.
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