One of the most recognizable video game franchises in the world, yet so underappreciated. The Metroid series is a staple of gaming which I have recently fallen in love with. This page covers the games which I've played and enjoy, it is NOT a definitive source of information about Metroid.
Zero Mission (2004)
My introduction to the series was Metroid: Zero Mission. Well, techincally I tried the original game on through Nintendo Switch Online but couldn't get over how crappy it felt to play. Then I found out there was a remake for the GBA and promptly fell in love.
You play as Samus Aran, a “bounty hunter” who travels to Zebes in order to stop the space pirates who are exploiting a dangerous alien species known as Metroids. The gameplay involves lots of exploration which evolves over time as you collect more power-ups and movement abilities which allow you to explore previously inaccessible areas. As well as fighting plenty of hostile creatures which lurk in every corner of the planet.
Many aspects like the exploration and non-linear design are retained from the original Metroid game, however, it's updated to modern standards. Even this remake is quite old now, but I believe it still holds up beautifully.
The game's graphics are a significant improvement over the original, featuring more detailed character and environment sprites, smoother animations, and a wider color palette. Each new area is unique and distinct, making it a joy to get lost for hours.
The game's character sprites are also beautifully designed, with Samus herself featuring a sleek new design that retains the iconic elements of her suit while giving her a more modern look.
While I feel that newer entries have improved upon the Metroid formula, this game is still a blast. The atmosphere and isolation felt throughout the game makes it an incredible experience, and absolutely worth your time if you're even slightly interested in Metroid.
This game is definitely worth your time if you've tried and enjoyed any of the recently trendy "Metroidvania" indie titles. The whole series is, just because I think the atmosphere and look of the Metroid games is still unmatched to this day.
Super Metroid (1994)
Super Metroid is the third game in the Metroid series, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest video games ever made. Although I haven't finished it myself, I have played through a decent chunk and would like to go back and finish it one day.
The game, once again, follows the adventures of Samus Aran investigating the activities of the Space Pirates on Zebes. Along the way, Samus must explore the planet's various environments, collect power-ups and weapons, and defeat powerful enemies and bosses in order to uncover the Space Pirates' plans and stop them from unleashing a dangerous alien life form known as Mother Brain.
Super Metroid was a critical and commercial success upon its release, earning widespread acclaim for its engaging gameplay, intricate level design, and atmospheric visuals and sound design. Having now finished quite a few of the other Metroid titles myself, I will definitely have to come back and finish this one!
Metroid Fusion (2002)
Metroid Fusion is the fourth game in the Metroid series, and one that tried something drastically different.
In this installment, Samus is infected with a mysterious organism after being attacked by a parasite. This organism, known as X, threatens to consume Samus's body and take control of her mind. To save herself and prevent the X from spreading throughout the galaxy, Samus must navigate through the Biologic Space Laboratories research station and defeat powerful enemies along the way.
It sounds like any other Metroid game, however, this game marked a significant departure from the open-world exploration of previous Metroid games. It is entirely linear without much room for exploration and sequence breaking like previous installments. The story is also told through lots of dialogue and cutscenes between Samus and ADAM.
First of all, I absolutely love the spritework, music, and horror atmosphere in this game. Despite being a GBA title it is effectively eerie and isolating. The ocassional interaction with the powerful SA-X is thrilling, and the levels are well designed to leave you dreading the next encounter. The environments are all unique, beautiful, and hauntingly rendered which I absolutely love the look of.
The music is amazing and it has probably my favorite soundtrack from the series. I would even say many of the songs are better and more interesting than those from the new Metroid Dread. The boss themes are fast and action packed, while the ambient pieces are spooky and chilling. It works wonderfully together with the spritework to create an amazing atmosphere throughout the game.
One of the things I didn't like was the linear structure. Compared to other Metroid games I've played, I found that Fusion was more constrained in terms of exploration, which made the game feel a little less satisfying to progress through. I also found the amount of dialogue between Samus and ADAM to be excessive, which slowed down the pace of the game.
Another aspect of the game that I had trouble with was some of the bosses. I found some of them to be frustratingly cheap and difficult, which took away from my overall enjoyment of the game. Furthermore, by the time you have all the power-ups and abilities the game is pretty much over unless you go back to 100% the game right before the final boss.
Despite these issues, I can still appreciate Metroid Fusion for what it is. It's not my favorite Metroid game, but I can understand that they wanted to try something different and introduce the series to a new audience on the GBA. For an action game which you can pick up and play, I think it works well, and I would still recommend it to anybody who is interested in something different from the regular Metroid formula.
Metroid Dread (2021)
The fifth main entry in the Metroid series, and long-awaited sequel to 2002's Metroid Fusion. Samus is the most agile she's ever been in this game, and it's definitely my favorite game in the series so far. All the old people who love Super Metroid can eat my pants!!
The story of Metroid Dread follows Samus as she investigates a mysterious signal on the planet ZDR, which leads her to a new threat in the form of the E.M.M.I. robots. These powerful machines are tasked with hunting down and capturing Samus, forcing her to navigate the planet's dangerous environments while evading their relentless pursuit.
Metroid Dread has a number of exciting new features and improvements. The game's visuals are wonderful and look incredible on the Switch, although a bit repetitive. The dual analog controls allow you to aim in any direction you want, and the new abilities take full advantage of this.
Dread introduces new gameplay mechanics such as the ability to slide, melee counter, and grapple, which add new depth and variety to the game's combat. The game also retains the series' non-linear structure, allowing players to explore ZDR and uncover its secrets at their own pace.
This installment has a big emphasis on the boss battles, and they are some of the toughest in the series. I often struggled with them at first, but they all feel fair and I eventually prevailed. Each one feels like a fair challenge and are rewarding to defeat.
I feel that Dread is the most visceral game in the series thanks to the dynamic camera angles possible in 3D. While the world remains with a fixed angle, many of the boss fights swing the camera around for dramatic effect and it is immensely satisfying.
I know in the past it has taken many years for new Metroid games to come out, but I really hope they will continue to improve on the incredible work done for this game. I can't recommend this one enough as it's easily available on the Switch unlike some of the other titles!
Metroid Prime Remastered (2023)
This was just released out of nowhere, and is such a wonderful surprise. I have always wanted to play the Metroid Prime games and now I have the perfect way to experience them. I haven't played any 3D Metroid before, but I hope to play this one some time soon. It appears to be a technical marvel, and is probably the best looking game I've seen on the Nintendo Switch.
The Metroid games feature a variety of different characters, from the badass protagonist, Samus Aran, to the powerful creatures which she must defeat, as well as other supporting characters like the Chozo.
Samus Aran is the main protagonist of the Metroid franchise. She is known for her powerful abilities, quick reflexes, and iconic power suit, which allows her to traverse hazardous environments and fight off enemies with ease. Samus is a skilled bounty hunter, and her missions often involve tracking down dangerous creatures and thwarting their nefarious plans.
Famously, Samus's gender was a surprise reveal in the original Metroid game, as her power suit made it difficult to discern her gender. This revelation was significant for the gaming industry as it made Samus one of the first playable female characters in a mainstream video game. Her character has paved the way for more female protagonists in video games, and she has since become an important icon in gaming culture.
Zero Suit Samus is a version of Samus Aran without her power suit, and she has been depicted in a sexualized manner in some Metroid games and other media. This portrayal has been a source of controversy among fans of the franchise, as it is seen by some as objectifying and reducing the character to her physical appearance rather than her abilities and character traits.
It is worth noting that the sexualization of female characters in video games is a broader issue in the gaming industry. While there has been progress in recent years toward more diverse and inclusive representation of women in video games, the objectification of female characters remains a problem. Her portrayal and many others outside the Metroid series have contributed to a broader conversation about representation of women in the gaming industry.
Interstingly, the first game in which the Zero Suit was introduced defied the common trope of impractical and skimpy female armor in video games. In the sections where she is without her power suit, Samus is forced to be quick on her feet and out maneuver her foes in order to survive. Unfortunately, some modern depictions of her without the suit fail to maintain this same level of integrity and it is a shame to her legacy.
Ultimately, the issue of sexualization in video games is complex, and I am wholly unqualified to do the topic justice. However, I felt it was important to mention, and I believe that we can all work toward a more inclusive gaming culture for all.
The Chozo are a species of advanced beings that appear throughout the series. They are known for their incredible intelligence and technological prowess, and are often portrayed as ancient and wise. The Chozo are credited with creating the power suit and other advanced technology used by Samus. They are also responsible for creating the Metroids, as well as the planet Zebes. Despite their advanced technology, the Chozo are depicted as a peaceful and benevolent species, with a strong respect for nature and the universe as a whole.
Where To Play
Unfortunately, finding retro video games can be a challenging task in today's gaming landscape. With the advent of new technologies, many of the classic consoles and games of yesteryear have become outdated, and their physical copies are often no longer produced.
Furthermore, many retro games have become highly sought-after by collectors, and their rarity has driven up their prices on the secondary market. This has made it difficult for casual gamers or those new to the retro gaming scene to get their hands on classic games without breaking the bank.
Nintendo has slowly been adding more games to the Nintendo Switch Online library and as of March 2023 the following Metroid games are available on either Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Online, or the Expansion Pack:
Hopefully, this list will increase as more Game Boy and GBA titles are added to the platform. With the closure of the 3DS eShop a few games will also no longer be available digitally. However, with the release of Metroid Prime Remastered it seems as though the series will be coming back stronger than ever.
If you are a fan of this series, I implore you to put your money where your mouth is and support the new releases that come out! While Nintendo has neglected this series for many years now, but I believe they are finally willing to give it the time of day that it deserves.
The Metroid series has left a lasting impact on the gaming industry and has become a beloved franchise for fans around the world. Its innovative gameplay, strong characters, and atmospheric world-building have made it a classic series that has stood the test of time.
While the franchise has had its ups and downs over the years, it has continued to evolve and adapt to changing gaming trends and technologies. From the original Metroid on the NES to the latest entry in the series, Metroid Dread on the Nintendo Switch, the franchise has maintained its reputation for excellence and innovation.
Whether you are a longtime fan or a newcomer (like me) to the series, the world of Metroid is just waiting to be explored, and the adventure is just beginning.
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