Through the Years: A Look at the Metroid Franchise


Maybe it’s just my unhealthy obsession with Samus Aran, but I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Metroid franchise than other franchises, such as Zelda and Mario.  The original Metroid combined challenging action and role-playing elements, but perhaps best of all, was a game that didn’t need to be played in a linear manner.  I remember the first time I got a glimpse of Mother Brain; I was in fourth grade and my heart was beating so hard I thought it was going to crack my ribcage.

The Metroid games have gone through a lot of changes over the years – some for better, some for worse.  Still, each game feels like it’s a Metroid game and a part of Samus’ dynamic universe.  From Nintendo to Game Boy to Super Nintendo and all the way to the Wii, Metroid has been a staple franchise for Nintendo and fortunately, it looks like Samus is going to be around for a long, long time.  After the jump, take a look at how the Metroid franchise has changed – and remained the same- through the years.

Metroid (1986 – NES)

The very first game in the franchise, Metroid introduced us to Samus, metroids, Mother Brain, and a gang load of awesome weapons and attacks.  I think it’s one of the best games for the NES.  I won’t say that they don’t make ’em like they used to – because some of today’s games are incredible – but Metroid really stood out as a phenomenal, innovative, and challenging game.

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

Samus made the move to the Game Boy, sent on a mission to destroy the metroid creatures on their home planet.  Not too much changed as far as the gameplay from the first game, but new weapons and different evolutionary stages of metroids were featured, including a Queen Metroid.

Super Metroid (1994 – Super Nintendo)

The jump to the 16-bit Super Nintendo was an impressive one.  Again, the gameplay remained rather static, but seeing Samus, metroids, and of course Mother Brain in updated, colorful, pixilated glory made Super Metroid a huge hit.  The graphics and sound were state of the art at the time of Super Metroid’s release, but the game remains a joy to play even today.

Metroid Fusion (2002 – Game Boy Advance)

Metroid Fusion was released for the Game Boy Advance just about exactly the same time as Metroid Prime was released for the GameCube.  Metroid Fusion played similarly to the prior Metroid games: two-dimensional platforming and backtracking.  This time around, Samus has to square off against the Omega Metroid.

Metroid Prime (2002 – GameCube)

I have to say, I was a bit skeptical about a 3-D Metroid game, but Metroid Prime blew my mind.  It played a lot like a FPS, but still had the great non-linear and backtracking aspects of the prior Metroid games.  The ice and wave beams looked cooler than ever, as did the notorious Ridley.

Metroid: Zero Mission (2004 – Game Boy Advance)

Metroid: Zero Mission was essentially a remake of the original Metroid game, but for the Game Boy Advance.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that.  Not only were the graphics greatly enhanced from the original game, but new mini-bosses, items, and even areas were added to this “remake.”

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (2004 – GameCube)

Metroid Prime 2 played, of course, a lot like Metroid Prime, and Nintendo polished up the already intriguing 3-D gameplay.  Even though most Metroid games are challenging, Metroid Prime 2 was particularly difficult.  In a new direction for the Metroid games, though, Metroid Prime 2 featured a multiplayer mode in which players could battle against one another.

Metroid Prime Hunters (2006 – Nintendo DS)

The FPS format made its way to the Nintendo DS in Metroid Prime Hunters, a game that also featured an online multiplayer mode.  The story in Metroid Prime Hunters takes place in between Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2.  The bottom screen of the DS served as the game’s radar, with the top screen showing what Samus sees.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007 – Wii)

The first Metroid game for the Wii is also the final chapter in the Metroid Prime trilogy.  The FPS format is once again utilized in Metroid Prime 3, but with the Wii remote and nunchuck, players were presented with a new way to control Samus as she moved and shot her way through alien environments.  Somewhat surprisingly, I suppose, the controls were praised as being very smooth and user-friendly.

Metroid: Other M (2010 – Wii)

One of the biggest announcements at this year’s E3 was the upcoming release of a new Metroid game.  The game – which is being developed by Team Ninja (how cool is that?) – features a return to third-person action, but it looks as though there will be some first person action, as well.  I’m a ginormous Ninja Gaiden fan, so needless to say, I’m very excited to see what Team Ninja can do with Samus.

Which Metroid game is your favorite?

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  1. I gotta say, it’s nice seeing the list of games.

    My favorite of the bunch is Super Metroid. Graphics, music, gameplay all mixed together to create a moody experience like no other.

  2. @ Bigdog

    I didn’t realize there were so many games in the franchise, but when you start counting the Game Boy ones, it turns out there are quite a few.

    Super Metroid is way up there for me, too. I still love the original, and Metroid Prime really impressed me, too. Super Metroid took everything that was great about the original game and made it sharper, more colorful, and essentially better.

  3. Seems like Samus has gotta do a lot of melee-combat in “Other M”…

    Maybe that’s the wrong idea, since her main weapon always was that blaster arm…

    We’ll see, how this turns out^^ I’m curious!

    My fav from that list has to be Zero Mission because (unfortunately) it’s the only one of these, I ever finisched ^^°

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