Baby steps to bigger things
I’m afraid it’s true: This episode consists entirely of games that showed up less than a year ago on NES Works. Good thing that, as the kids say, these games slap. Plus, they represent critical improvements on the whole “metroidvania” way of life.
In fact, Blaster Master might be the purest and most robust attempt to creating a proper metroidvania to have appeared to this point in human history. The one exception would be those miserable top-down sequences that drag it down and dilute its impact.
Not that this is necessarily a good episode in which to complain about “purity”… not when the second featured title involves putting a stop (again) to the genocidal bigotry of Adolf Hitler and his legion of goose-stepping morons. Still, while the premise of Bionic Commando is an all-timer—you are a lone soldier with a really cool grappling arm who has to blow up a lost Third Reich superweapon, and also Hitler—that alone doesn’t afford the game a place in the lineage of the metroidvania. However, the fact that you do it in a fairly open interconnected world that incorporates skill- and tool-based gating along with a rudimentary experience system? That definitely makes this masterpiece a mini-metroidvania forebear.