Under The Radar is a weekly look at games that have ended up hidden through lack of coverage, but shouldn’t have. If you have a game that you think should be featured here, leave it in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out
Growing up lower class, I missed out on some formative video game experiences that my peers had due to the fact that I didn’t have a SNES or PlayStation. One of the important games I missed was Super Metroid. Its influence is so strong though that I feel as if there’s no need to go back and play that specific game when there’s quite a few experiences today—like Shadow Complex—that will provide the same sort of experience. With the announcement of Knytt Underground this week, I decided to highlight some titles from that employ fundamental elements of the Metroidvania style.
Developed by Nifflas and released in 2006, Knytt is a 2D platformer that has you playing a tiny character searching for parts on a strange planet to repair the broken UFO that abducted him from his home. While there are dangers to face and a few enemies to avoid, Knytt focuses on the idea of exploring segmented spaces. The unnamed protagonist has the ability to jump quite high and climb walls, and Nifflas creates wonderfully inviting environments that span from underground caverns to water locked passages to tall mountains. Moving around the spaces is its own reward, and the search for the ship parts provide just enough motivation to look around without being directed to specific places.
Knytt’s sequel, Knytt Stories, takes the exploratory wonder of the first game and adds the element of using power-ups to gain access to different locations. Double jump, speed, high jump, wall climb, an enemy sensor and an invisibility detector all work like traditional Metroidvania abilities in allowing the player to progress further in the game. What makes Knytt Stories particularly great is that it was released as a level editor first and foremost. The tile based system is quite easy to learn and allowed for players to create their own stories to share with others. Both Knytt and Knytt Stories are PC freeware and can be picked up at Nifflas’ site here.
An Untitled Story was developed by one-man indie-game-making-machine Matt Thorson. The game is much more directly a Metroidvania where players take the role of an egg who quickly rolls out of the nest and onto the grander world, made to explore it while still in egg form. The game’s hand-drawn art style and whimsical music make exploring the world an enjoyable experience while dozens of small upgrades littered around the world are the small rewards for trying different things. You can pick up the game for Windows free at Matt Thorson’s site.