10 Best Metroid Clone Games, Ranked

10 Best Metroid Clone Games, Ranked

Since the original Metroid debuted on NES in 1986, it’s become one of Nintendo’s most recognizable video game franchises. Although new entries in the series are few and far between, with the most recent being Metroid Dread for Nintendo Switch, many game developers have pointed to the side-scroller as a huge influence on their future creations.

So much so, that the similarity of many games to Metroid or its twin Castlevania has resulted in the genre of “Metroidvania” referring to 2D sidescrollers encouraging vast exploration. These ten games, whether old or new, are the most reminiscent of Metroid and its later 2D titles, though they could never overshadow the adventures of Samus Aran.

10 Haiku, The Robot

Haiku navigating a cave

Although the world of Metroid, especially titles like Super Metroid, are dark with a gritty sci-fi influence, some Metroidvania games take a more family-friendly approach. That’s the case with this 2022 sidescroller Haiku, the Robot, where players control a Kirby-esque robot navigating a world overrun by a corrupt computer virus.

Though it has drawn comparisons to more recent tentpoles in the Metroidvania genre, Haiku, the Robot features many aspects of 2D Metroid titles, such as acquiring power upgrades and exploring maze-like levels. However, some critics felt it didn’t match up to the Metroid series in terms of complexity and difficulty, though that certainly gives it a more worldwide appeal.

9 Xeodrifter

Xeodrifter facing an alien boss

Released in 2014, Xeodrifter was developed by Renegade Kid, the developer behind Dementium: The Ward and Mutant Mudds, two wildly different games in terms of tone. Those tones blend together in Xeodrifter, which certainly takes after the Metroid franchise in terms of gameplay as well as its sci-fi setting.

Though the game’s protagonist resembles the Among Us astronauts more so than Samus Aran, it features many similar Metroidvania elements of exploring uncharted planets and navigating mysterious facilities, though generally has a lot less content than its spiritual predecessor. Initially a 3DS title, the game was ported onto Nintendo Switch in 2018.

8 Yoku’s Island Express

Yoku meeting the Posterodactyl

Some so-called Metroid clones feature unique elements that greatly set them apart from Nintendo’s famed sci-fi franchise. One example of this is Yoku’s Island Express, which was released in 2018. Taking place on a vast Metroid-esque map, players control a dung beetle delivering mail to various anthropomorphic islanders on a remote island.

Though it also shares platforming and aesthetic similarities to the Donkey Kong Country franchise, as well as a pinball mechanic letting players zip around the map with ease, the world feels so entrenched in an homage to Metroid that one can’t help but get lost, both literally and metaphorically, in this charming landscape.

7 Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Shantae in a cemetery as it rains

The Shantae franchise dates back to 2002 on the GameBoy Color but has since seen a revival in the world of indie games starting in 2010. Although its most recent entry is Shantae and the Seven Sirens in 2019, many fans have a soft spot for the 2016 title Half-Genie Hero. Notably, this installment was crowdfunded by fans through Kickstarter.

Although the Shantae series has many influences, Metroid stands out in this particular title, given how each individual stage is more split from the others, reminiscent of exploring various planets in the Metroid galaxy. The game is also popular amongst speedrunners, making it even closer in relation to titles like Super Metroid.

6 Axiom Verge

Trace facing a giant cyborg head

One of the most critically-acclaimed Metroidvania games out there is Axiom Verge, which was originally released on PlayStation 4 in 2015. It shares a lot of similarities with games like Super Metroid, including its cinematic sci-fi setting, vast exploration of an unknown world, and even the characterization of beings like Elsenova, who resembles Mother Brain.

In fact, Axiom Verge‘s creator, Thomas Happ, had previously worked on Metroid fangames in his early days as a video game designer. It received a sequel, Axiom Verge 2, in 2021, featuring a new protagonist and an evolution of its Metroidvania aspects, albeit with more inspiration from games like The Legend of Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus.

5 Guacamelee

Juan standing in a Mexican town

This 2013 platformer was a major influence on the indie game community in the 2010s, so much so that its protagonist Juan has been featured in subsequent indie games such as Brawlout and Runbow. The game is not ashamed of its Metroidvania influence, even featuring references to the franchise in some of its gameplay elements.

In the game, players control Juan, a Mexican luchador navigating a 2D open world to rescue his lover, Lupita, after he is banished to the land of the dead. Though some have criticized the game’s limited content, it’s remained a beloved title in the indie community. It even received a sequel, Guacamelee 2, in 2018, which was also well-reviewed.

4 The Messenger

The messenger in a forest temple

This 2018 platformer, upon first glance, may draw more comparisons to retro titles like Ninja Gaiden than Metroid. In the game, players control a ninja tasked with delivering a scroll to a mountaintop, collecting upgrades along the way as they overcome various enemies and levels, eventually resulting in a twist ending as surprising as Samus’ gender reveal.

Beloved for its gameplay and art design, The Messenger contains the 2D sidescrolling complexity that fans of Metroid and its sequels will absolutely adore. It especially invokes Metroid when players have to later return to areas they’ve already explored, utilizing warps to make navigating the open world easier.

3 Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night

Alucard in front of a blood fountain

It’s true that the Castlevania franchise shares many similarities with Metroid, but has nevertheless remained its own thing for years. However, the 1997 PlayStation title Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has had much influence over the Metroidvania genre, mainly for its non-linear exploration perfected by earlier titles like Super Metroid.

While Castlevania games on the NES emphasized gaining weapons and power-ups to battle stronger foes, Symphony of the Night incorporates a more Metroid-inspired leveling-up system. Its main character, Alucard, also can inhabit different animal forms, which allows for similar gameplay mechanics to Samus’s power suit.

2 Ori And The Blind Forest

Ori walking along a tree branch at night

Few indie games have entranced audiences quite like Ori and the Blind Forest, which was released in 2015 and later on the Switch in 2019. Though its setting and characters feel completely original, many have felt the influence of Metroid on its gameplay, requiring players to explore and solve puzzles throughout a 2D environment.

More than anything, few Metroidvania games have been able to capture the legacy of Nintendo’s own series like Ori and the Blind Forest. It has since been followed up by a sequel in 2020, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, which was an overall improvement on the previous game but received criticism for its technical issues upon initial release.

1 Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight facing a beetle boss

It’s safe to say if Metroid and Castlevania had not established the Metroidvania genre, Hollow Knight would’ve taken the crown. The Team Cherry creation was originally released in 2017 after a successful Kickstarter campaign, becoming an iconic 2D platformer of the modern age, combining the mystery and exploration of Metroid with the challenge of Dark Souls.

Many fans of the Metroidvania genre have felt that no game has better captured the rich environment and freedom of the Metroid franchise quite like Hollow Knight. Hopefully, its sequel which has yet to receive a release date will exceed fan expectations, but for now, there’s so much to discover in Hollow Knight that they’ll be preoccupied.

More: Small Details You Only Notice Replaying Hollow Knight

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