Video game fans forget that Metroid was, for its time, a revolutionary game. An open-world adventure where you, the lone bounty hunter Samus Aran, descend into the darkness of an H.R. Giger inspired alien planet. Your mission? Hunt space pirates, eradicate an alien parasite, and finish your mission without blowing up.
Over the course of years, sequels to the original Nintendo classic have taken gamers on a journey through the stars. However, as is expected with every franchise, there are highs... and there are lows.
It is time to take a voyage to the stars, to explore strange, unknown worlds, and to learn just which games stand the test of time, and which ones have faded into obscurity.
13 Metroid: Other M
By far the worst game in the entire Metroid franchise, Other M effectively put Samus Aran on ice for several years. Six years passed between the release of Other M and Metroid Prime: Federation Force -- and it isn't hard to see why. Team Ninja, known for the Dead or Alive franchise, created a sequel with little in common with its predecessors.
Fans of the series could adjust to innovations in the gameplay if the world and atmosphere sucked them in -- as it had in the Metroid Prime series. However, many fans found the plot to be offensively bad. The plot was filled with melodramatic dialogue and bizarre misogyny -- but the worst was when Samus confronts Ripley and cowers in terror. This game takes place fairly late in the Metroid timeline. By this point, she had blown Ripley to pieces several times before. So what gives?
The Samus Aran fans had adored for years did not appear in this game. This is Samus in name and shape only.
12 Metroid Prime: Federation Force
Metroid Prime: Federation Force's greatest sin is how forgettable it is. Its second greatest sin is that it barely feels like a Metroid game. Little sets this late entry in the series apart from any generic space game out there.
The game features two main modes: one where you go on missions (maybe with friends) and a sports game. It is so underwhelming and bland that many players forget it's even a part of the main series. After such a long dry spell between Metroid games, fans had to ask "Why did you even bother with this?"
11 Metroid Prime Hunters
Metroid Prime Hunters came packaged with the early DS consoles. It functioned as a demonstration of the hardware. However, many players left this game a little concerned about the Nintendo DS's limitations if THIS was supposed to demonstrate its potential.
Sure, its use of the touch screen was innovative for its time, but little sets Hunters apart as a space shooter game, let alone an entry in the Metroid franchise. Its gameplay felt constrained, its graphics murky, and, in order to play, you needed someone else to play this already subpar game. Most players gave this one a pass.
10 Metroid Prime Pinball
Another early Nintendo DS game, this also set out to test the hardware of the system. While it is a generic game without much to set it apart from other pinball games, Metroid Prime Pinball is, at its core, a pinball game. And, at that, it at least succeeds. It is a functional, even enjoyable, pinball game.
But does it offer fans of the Metroid series anything? Beyond Easter Eggs and references to other games in the franchise, it offers little.
9 Metroid II: Return of Samus
Metroid II is often overlooked, as it was an early Game Boy game. As such, the game is limited by the hardware. Many elements of the game are recycled or taken from its predecessor.
However, is the game bad?
No. In fact, it's arguably one of the best titles on the original Game Boy. There is a huge gap in quality between the 10th and 9th entries here. Despite the limitations, Metroid II manages to present a dynamic storyline that leads into Super Metroid. It is dated, but that doesn't make it bad.
The original Metroid is an atmospheric masterpiece. It is telling to the quality of later games in the series that this game is so low on the list.
What keeps Metroid from ascending further on the list is simply that everything it does, later games in the franchise would do better. In the vast scheme of things, that's hardly cutting criticism.
7 Metroid Fusion
As of now, Metroid Fusion is the furthest game in the Metroid timeline. It came out eight years following the release of Super Metroid, scratching an itch fans had for almost a decade.
Following the destruction of the Metroids, a new parasite, kept suppressed by the Metroids, known as the X, emerges. The X overtake one of Samus's suits, and use it to hunt Samus down.
But on the other hand, Metroid Fusion is an incredibly linear game. Previous games allowed you to travel all over the world, looking for secrets. But in this game, you're told where to go. While the game is great in many ways, it isn't the game fans needed after an eight-year dry spell.
6 Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
The Metroid Prime trilogy is often touted as one of the greatest gaming trilogies ever made. But every series has a low point.
To call Metroid Prime 2: Echoes disappointing is stretching it. It's a first-person exploration shooter game, complete with immersive environments. Tons of secrets, lore, bosses... but the light/dark world mechanic and puzzles felt stolen from The Legend of Zelda. Much of the game required extensive backtracking. And did anyone play the multiplayer mode? Ever?
5 Metroid: Samus Returns
Metroid II is a good game. Its remake is way better.
Without the constraints of the Game Boy, Metroid: Samus Returns proves that some remakes are necessary. After years without a proper Metroid game, Samus Returns felt like a return to form unlike any other. Non-linear levels, atmospheric environments -- all the qualities fans of the franchise craved for years.
4 Metroid: Zero Mission
Like the previous entry, Metroid: Zero Mission is a remake -- this time of the original game. While the original is a classic, this game updated everything, offering better graphics and smoother gameplay...
Before adding even more to the game.
If you've already played the original Metroid a zillion times, Zero Mission offers everything you loved about the first game -- and more. This is the game that introduced players to the Zero Suit, which Samus wears in the explosive added levels that are added after where the original Metroid ended. In this case, more is just more.
3 Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
The final chapter of the Metroid Prime trilogy, Corruption felt like a return to form. Using the updated Wii technology to offer players a new immersive adventure, Metroid Prime 3 takes players on the ultimate adventure.
While it does avoid the gameplay pitfalls that befell Echoes (less padding, better puzzles) the highlight here are the Wii's motion controls. Re-releases of the Metroid Prime trilogy updated the prior games to incorporate the Wii-remote. It's one of the few games that used the Wii's controls to their fullest.
2 Metroid Prime
The original Metroid Prime, however, remains the best in the trilogy. The first game to offer radically new gameplay mechanics, Prime proved that Metroid could survive in the 3-D gaming landscape.
Offering lush environments to explore, fascinating puzzles, and action mechanics to boot, Metroid Prime blew gamers away back in 2002. It's incredibly telling how, years later, this game is still incredibly playable. On top of being fun, however, it feels great. The game is incredibly haunting and atmospheric, which gives the game a magic very few games can match.
It would have been the best game in the series. If not for...
1 Super Metroid
Every Metroid game to come out after Super Metroid has just been trying to recapture this game's magic.
Easily the most atmospheric game in the franchise, it features Samus's last great stand against the Metroid parasites, the space pirates, and some of her greatest adversaries: Ridley and Mother Brain.
Where do we start? It's a non-linear exploration game with some of the best 2-D levels, gameplay, music, lighting -- everything. The upgrade system rewards you for exploring. You're allowed to just go wherever and maybe even complete the game without ever coming across huge stretches of the game. The story is told in real-time without ever explaining itself to you. The finale is one of the best game endings in history. Every second leaves you breathless.
Super Metroid is one of the best games Nintendo has ever put out. Period.