These Metroidvania games are neither Metroid nor Vania

"Metroidvania" is a term used to describe side-scrolling games with large, open worlds, new areas of which are accessible only with certain items or powerups. Take away the side-scrolling element, and you've got Zelda; take away the powerups, and you've got Pitfall. It's named after the two most famous series to make use of the format, Metroid and (later) Castlevania.

Shadow Complex has suddenly thrown the Metroidvania genre back into mainstream gamers' attention, thanks to its fancy graphics and being an Xbox 360 game. It isn't the first game that isn't a Metroid or Castlevania to apply this formula -- in fact, many developers stumbled upon the Metroidvania formula or a close variant even before Symphony of the Night.

Join us on a brisk tour of some notable free-roaming games. If you are overcome by Metroidvania fever, you can read more detailed writeups of many of the games in GameSpite's ToastyWiki.

Click here to start your adventure!

This article was originally published on Joystiq.