Nintendo may be determined to forget about its Metroid series, but that doesn’t mean the fans are. From the outset the series felt very different to anything else Nintendo was offering its fans, blending together a sense of isolation and tension that became the series hallmark. So we decided to look back at the 12 Metroid titles – including a surprise entry we felt deserved to be on the list.
12. Metroid (NES, 1986) – Back in its day, the original Metroid was a work of art on the NES. The world of Metroid sprung off the screen with vivid detail and gripping mechanics. Yet as time has passed, the creases and folds that underpin these mechanics have ultimately come to work against the game. The lack of in-game map, the beam-mechanics are borderline unplayable while the complete lack of a save-game system robs the game of the ability for the gamer to make their mark. This isn’t helped by an overworld design that feels counter-intuitive to progress; resulting in a heap of backtracking and frantic attempts to find your bearings. It’s an important game no doubt, but age hasn’t been kind to the old girl.
11. Metroid Prime Pinball (DS, 2005) – The Metroid series ventures into pinball territory with this hugely forgettable outing. Homing in on Samus’s Morph Ball ability, the game is hugely forgettable. It’s pinball, and it plays competently – but it wasn’t enough to make the game standout. The game is stuffed with plenty of references and nods to previous entries in the series. One for the hardcore only.
10. Metroid II: Return of Samus (GB, 1991) – The debut portable outing for the Metroid franchise served as the direct sequel to the original Metroid. While the level of ambition is admirable, the lack of overall progress in terms of design means that a lot of the original games hang-ups make unwelcome returns. Luckily the game throws in a save system this time; allowing gamers to progress at their own pace. Sadly the GameBoys lack of grunt and awkward screen resolution means the game has aged like bread. If only Nintendo would remake it somehow….
9. Metroid: Other M (Wii, 2010) – Ejecting the series much-loved focus on exploration; Other M throws a huge focus on plot and character development. Depending on where you stand, this is either a great move or a horribly misguided one. The end result is a game that sits in the 2.5D space, gameplay trying to blend together aspects from across the Metroid spectrum. The combat is hampered by several poorly thought-out ideas that never really blend together well. Ideas like forcing the gamer into first person to use missiles (Even though you can’t move during this) as well as the dodge mechanic. Perhaps the games biggest failing however was the decision to turn Samus into an emotional wreck. Her development feels ham-fisted, backwards and overly pointless. The games mechanic unlock system is laughably bad (Your commander needs to feel you deserve to use the items). Overall just a complete mess of ideas that never comes together.
8. Metroid Prime: Federation Forces (3DS, 2016) – The idea deserves merit – expanding the Metroid universe beyond Samus was a good idea and added weight to the mythos. However this was not the game people wanted, nor were excited to see. The game sold terribly and was scorned long before arrival for being a lazy cash-in on the Metroid Prime brand. Truth be told the game isn’t that bad if you can grab some friends to play with. The co-op focus lends itself to some fun moments and while the bosses aren’t up there with the series best, there are some fun moments to be had. Play it alone however and the game is a tedious slog that handicaps you for not having local friends. In truth it’s hard to recommend the game unless you’re desperate for a Metroid fix.
7. Metroid Prime Hunters (DS, 2006) – A bizarre game that takes place between the first two Prime games but has a heavy focus on multiplayer. The campaign was very limited, the worlds lacking the detail that had made the first two Prime games so enjoyable – looking bland and almost incomprehensible thanks to the small Nintendo DS screens. Throw into the mix the awkward control schemes; which did nothing but frustrate for the most part and you’re left with a very mixed bag of an FPS that neither has the level of detail nor the enjoy ability to really hold its own. Plus thanks to Nintendo’s decision to shutter the WiFi service, the game is pretty much dead on arrival for those looking to return in modern times.
6. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii, 2007) – The final entry in the Prime trilogy arguably has the hardest time of it. Thanks to the Nintendo Wii’s controller, there’s a level of immersion that helps to make this world feel slightly more real. Yet for all this, there’s an increased focus on plot that feels detrimental to the exploration aspects of the game. For the first time in the Prime series, Samus travels to different worlds; something that ultimately robs the game of focus but adds a huge amount of variety. There’s also the introduction of the “Phazon” corruption; a mode which allows Samus to deal heavy damage at the cost of her sanity – resulting in a game over if left on too long. It’s a mechanic that’s love it or hate it. In the end, you’ll either love Corruption for trying to be its own experience or dislike it for trying too hard to be different.
5. Metroid Fusion (GBA, 2002) – Fusion was the first 2D Metroid game since Super Metroid and its arrival was a compliment to that of Metroid Prime (You could unlock various features using the GC Link Cable). The game itself features strong mechanics, a well designed world and a core mechanic that’s unlike anything the series had experienced up to that point in the form of X virus. Perhaps the games only major failing is tying the exploration to the story so heavily. Unlike previous Metroid games, here there was a sense of linear corridor gameplay at work which limits exploration. The story is key to everything that happens and for some; this won’t be the Metroid experience they want to see.
4. Metroid Prime 2: Echos (GC, 2004) – Unfairly chastised upon its initial release, Echo’s is a well made and well thought-out game that explores the concept of dual worlds within the Metroid Universe. Here the gamer is introduced to the Light and Dark worlds, versions of the same levels but very different to traverse. The dangers presented initially by this dark world are tormenting to the gamer; with ammo becoming a big factor in how the game plays. You have to be smart in how you make use of it; with clever foresight trumping brutality. The world is beautifully realized while the exploration offered up is on par with the original Prime game. Add in a series of highly difficult boss battles and you’ve got one of the series more underrated entries.
3. Metroid Zero Mission (GBA, 2004) – A remake of the original Metroid which blends the newer mechanics with the old aesthetic. It’s a perfect marriage, with Zero Mission complimenting all that came before with a well-rounded and greatly realized world. Perhaps the best part for Metroid veterans, the inclusion of the Zero Mission which fully introduced Metroid fans to the zero-suit. This addition cements Zero Mission as the definitive version of the games original outing and well worth a look if you’re interested in where the series began.
2. Metroid Prime (GC, 2002) – What can be said about Prime that hasn’t been written a thousand times already? Arguably the most important Metroid game as it brought the series to new relevancy. The shift to 3D was controversial but one that heralded a new era for the series. The combat was almost flawless, the bosses iconic and tense while the world was packed to the brim with things ready to be discovered. Exploration was rewarded, with secrets tucked a-plenty throughout the world while the story was layered into the game just enough that it kept you intrigued. Prime is a wonderful example of how to modernize a game series without ripping out its heart. It’s a game that appeals to the die-hard fans while opening the door for new fans. For this reason it’s one of the series more impressive outings for sure.
1. Super Metroid (SNES, 1994) – Super Metroid set the bar for the series and gaming on the whole. Arriving on the SNES, the story of Samus saving the last Metroid from pirates . The series is at its peak here, with exploration bound together seamlessly with a wonderful world. Packed to the brim with secrets, combat and the kind of intrigue that naturally pushes gamers forward; there’s very little to hate about Super Metroid. Perhaps the best part for fans of the series, the graphics and music blend together to create an atmospheric tension that hangs over proceedings; providing the perfect ominous tone for which everything can occur. Many hold this up as the definitive Metroid experience; it’s very hard to argue with the quality or legacy this game leaves behind.