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Looking Back: The Metroid Series

With Metroid Prime 4 looming for a potential release within the next year, I want to cover the elements that make the Metroid series special. Metroid games do more than create sequels. They create an impact with nearly every release. I'll go over each mainline release and describe what sets each one apart. With over 30 years of legacy and a new console title in the works, Nintendo and Retro Studios might be making big waves over the next decade!

Metroid (NES, 1986)

The original Metroid created a non-linear experience within the depths of Planet Zebes. Featuring Samus, Ridley, Kraid, and Mother Brain for the very first time, players would explore the depths of Brinstar, Norfair, and Tourian to their hearts' content.

Samus would go on to debut in the original Super Smash Bros. in 1999. Ridley, however, would not become playable until the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in 2019.

Metroid II: Return of Samus (Game Boy, 1991)

The sequel to Metroid debuted the series on a handheld. Metroid II added more detailed sprites to Samus and the caves she explored. Unlike the first title, this was built around hunting Metroids.

Metroid II introduced the Metroid evolutions: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Zeta, and Omega. It also introduced the Queen Metroid, the final boss! Finally, the baby Metroid found at the end would play an integral part to the series' lore thereafter.

Super Metroid (SNES, 1994)

The big one. Arguably considered the best game in the series, Super Metroid took the series' momentum and ran with it 100%. Super Metroid introduced some of the most beautiful sprite visuals and animations ever to run on the SNES. The introduction of the map allowed for much easier exploration without getting lost.

Samus gained many new abilities, such as the stacked Beams and the Grappling Hook. Plus you fought against some of the largest bosses in gaming history at the time, like Kraid. Super Metroid began the tradition of the Metroid series featuring amazing, memorable boss battles throughout the series.

One standout moment of Super Metroid included the dramatic ending against the Mother Brain. Samus' near defeat, the return of the baby Metroid, and the climax of the fight left many players with an unforgettable moment in gaming history. Before I forget, I should mention it ends with one of the best credits themes in gaming history today.

Metroid Prime (GameCube, 2002)

After the first gap in Metroid releases, Metroid Prime returned the series to consoles after an 8-year hiatus. Bringing the series into first-person, Retro Studios' debut title would take the series into a new perspective.

Metroid Prime introduced the ability to switch between beams, with each one having a different element which would prove crucial in combat as well as solving puzzles. The stage design varied among ice, fire, Space Pirate bases, the Phazon Mines, and even the depths of the planet itself.

Visors would introduce a new level of exploration as well. Scanning enemies could detect weaknesses while also uncovering lore about the Chozo and Space Pirates. This lore would continue through the series and prove one of the most defining aspects of the Prime sub-series.

Metroid Fusion (Game Boy Advance, 2002)

Released alongside Metroid Prime, Samus' return to 2D form would put her in a new suit. Featuring a much more detailed narrative, Samus' story would be guided from an emergency rescue to deploying her into a dangerous mission. In her weakened state, with all her Power Suit abilities removed, Samus had to bring back her suit upgrades while faced with the X-Parasite menace. With the odds stacked against Samus, the narrative helped develop an atmosphere of everlasting danger.

Metroid Fusion introduced Adam, Samus' CO, who would give her directives. While you had to move from point to point, you were free to explore each area individually. Her conversations also reflected new detail on her character.

Most notably was the introduction of the SA-X. Samus' first doppelganger rival who would stalk her throughout the game. Think Nemesis from Resident Evil 3. She would engage this enemy in her climactic battle near the end of the game.

Metroid: Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance, 2004)

Nintendo would remake the original Metroid with the interface of Super and Fusion. Featuring the fastest, tightest gameplay yet in the series. Samus moved faster in Zero Mission then she had before. While initially her fight began and ended on Planet Zebes, Zero Mission would take her to the Space Pirate's Battleship after her fight with Mother Brain.

This new bit of gameplay introduced Zero Suit Samus into the game and greater Metroid lore. Zero Suit Samus added a stealth aspect that made exploring dangerous until she could recover her fully powered suit. Additionally, Zero Suit Samus would later become a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube, 2002)

Samus' foray into the planet Aether would see her trek between two worlds. The Light World featured the already desolate world crumbled by the Ing, who corrupted the planet, and the Space Pirates. The Dark World would feature a corrupted world uninhabitable to most forms of life.

Metroid Prime 2 introduced the Light and Dark Beams. Additionally, the Annihilator Beam brought forth an interesting cross between light and dark. Samus would regain her Screw Attack in this title, offering new methods of exploration.

Finally, Metroid Prime 2 introduced Dark Samus. Created from the remains of Metroid Prime and fused with Samus' DNA and suit, this Phazon-created harbinger would seek revenge on Samus. Dark Samus would engage you in battle several times throughout the game. Dark Samus would make her debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in 2019.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii, 2007)

The final game in the Metroid Prime trilogy would introduce motion controls to the series. When used for aiming, this was a blessing for players introduced to this new method of combat. Samus would also gain the "Hyper" mode, powering her attacks up at the cost of her health.

Metroid Prime 3 introduced new hunters to the series, all of which you had to take down. The name Corruptionwas used because they would fall victim to Dark Samus' Phazon and become "corrupted" which led to the aforementioned taking down. This would set the stage for the final battle against Dark Samus.

The title introduced warp points to the series, allowing Samus to travel between areas quickly. It also introduced voice acting. Metroid Prime 3 would later be re-released in the Metroid Prime trilogy for Wii.

Metroid: Other M (Wii, 2009)

Other M brought Samus into yet a new perspective - third-person 3D. Taking place after Super Metroid, Samus was sent to the Bottle Ship to investigate attacks happening to the workers on-board. Like in Fusion, Samus was guided by Adam, who was alive and well. It explains what happened to him going into Fusion as well as the type of people Samus worked with when she wasn't a lone bounty hunter.

Metroid: Other M introduced Ridley's pre-evolutions and major plot points into the series. The change in perspective also allowed for incredibly fast combat against enemies. Team Ninja would do something they would later introduce in their hit title, Nioh, after you clear the supposed final boss you can play through one final arc in the game. This is where you'll fight the true final boss as well as wrap up the story.

Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS, 2017)

The most recent title in the Metroid series returned Samus to form for the first time in nearly a decade. The second giant gap in the series was even longer than the 8-year gap between Super and Prime/Fusion. Even though it was also an 8-year gap after Other M, it was also a 13 year gap for 2D Metroid since Zero Mission.

The remake of Metroid II returned with a fitting subtitle. Not only for the original game's subtitle, but for the purpose of returning the Metroid series. While Samus Returns added new areas to the game, most notably was its use of abilities. Samus now had Aeon abilities to accompany her. She could slow down time or power-up her beams. She also had a counterattack against enemies, allowing her to knock them down and deliver major damage. All the boss fights against the Metroid evolutions were redone to be more strategic and dangerous than before. Plus, beating the game unlocked things, like the Fusion suit and harder difficulties.

Metroid: Samus Returns remained loyal to the Metroid formula. Perhaps the most surprising element was the addition of one very particular boss fight. Even after Queen Metroid, there was still one more foe to face.
The future of Metroid

For over 30 years, Metroid has delivered many great memories to the hearts of players. While not mentioned they include Metroid Prime: Hunters, Metroid Prime Pinball, and Metroid Prime: Federation Force. The series features its fair share of spin-offs, for better or for worse.

Metroid: Other M offered new perspective to the series. Unfortunately, it was the worst-received title. This was largely due to only being able to use the Wiimote to control Samus. Furthermore, the lack of melodic soundtrack and the treatment of Samus' personality also ended up souring the experience for many players. As a result, Samus Returns could be looked at as the first true Metroid game in a decade.

Despite several major gaps between releases, Retro Studios is working hard to develop Metroid Prime 4 for Nintendo Switch. The hotly anticipated title will bring Metroid into the current generation. Even though Metroid: Samus Returns released three years ago, we may hopefully get to see Nintendo's latest Metroid title at a Nintendo Direct or E3 later this year. Be sure to keep up with The Geek Getaway for the latest info on Metroid Prime 4!

Do you have a favorite Metroid title? How did you get introduced into the series? Let us know in the comments below!

*All pictures courtesy of Nintendo