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The Metroid Series Ranked from Worst to First

Updated on December 29, 2016
Metroid (via Wikipedia)
Metroid (via Wikipedia)

There was a time when Metroid was considered one of a holy trinity of Nintendo franchises, alongside Super Mario and the Legend of Zelda. It's hard nowadays to maintain that viewpoint, thanks to the negative reception of Metroid: Other M, no new Metroid games since Other M, and Pokémon remaining a top profit source for Nintendo. Metroid Prime: Federation Force, for the 3DS, was released recently, but that game acts as more of a spin-off than a true Metroid game.

This lull is nothing new; there was an eight-year gap between the 1994 release Super Metroid and the concurrent 2002 releases Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime. Those two games brought the series back with a bang, and hope remains that a new core Metroid will do the same to end this current drought.

In the meantime, let's take a look at the ten current Metroid games available, as I rank them from worst to best.

Metroid II (via Wikipedia)
Metroid II (via Wikipedia)

Metroid: Other M on Amazon

The Bottom Tier

10. Metroid

The original Metroid has been very dated for some time now. Any time you resume the game, you start with only 30 health with all-empty energy tanks; there's no in-game map, and the game's beam-mechanics are tedious. Speaking of tedious, the game's password system—the only game in the series to feature it —doesn't do it any favors either. Thankfully, Metroid: Zero Mission exists now for people who wish to play through the events of this game.

Available on: NES, Game Boy Advance (either standalone or as an unlockable in Metroid Fusion when linked to Metroid Prime), Wii (VC), Nintendo 3DS (VC), Wii U (VC)

9. Metroid II: Return of Samus

The first and only Metroid game for the original Game Boy, the game acts as a direct sequel to Metroid, with Samus going to the Metroid homeworld to eradicate the parasite race of Metroids. The small screen and monochrome palette does the game no favors and the game suffers many of the problems that plague the original Metroid (though it does feature a save system), but the premise of the game and its mechanics make it slightly better than the original.

Available on: Game Boy, Nintendo 3DS (VC)

8. Metroid Prime Hunters

A somewhat odd title, the game takes place between Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2, but has heavy emphasis on multiplayer. Now, Nintendo's Wifi connection is forever down, so the traditional means to play this game online is no longer possible. What's left then, is a limited single-player mode that's hampered by the Nintendo DS's low resolution and several awkward control schemes.

Available on: Nintendo DS (playable on 3DS)

7. Metroid: Other M

Some have described this game as the "Metroid killer" not just because there have been no Metroid games since its release, but also due to how different it is compared to previous games in the series. Exploration takes a back seat to the game's multitude of cut scenes and plot (most of which is just plain bad). It's unskippable on the first playthrough and some of them go on for an extended period of time. Combat is also overly simplified to allow for a broken "dodge" mechanic, and while most of the game is in a 3rd-person perspective, missiles can only be fired in a first-person mode (which Samus can not manuever in).

Available on: Wii (playable on Wii U via Wii mode)

Metroid Fusion (via Wikipedia)
Metroid Fusion (via Wikipedia)

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The Middle Tier

6. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Corruption is the final game in the Metroid Prime trilogy, the three games all share an overarching storyline regarding the radioactive substance known as "Phazon". Corruption, perhaps as a precursor to Other M, also suffers from sacrificing exploration for narrative but it's not nearly as bad. For most of the game, Samus is also "corrupted", which is mechanic where she can sacrifice health to enable her inner-phazon to deal massive damage, but if she remains in the mode for too long, she'll become fully corrupted and the player suffers a game over.

Corruption includes specific mechanics that make special use of the Wii remote and it also features travel across multiple planets, making it a more varied experience compared to the other two Prime games. Overall, it's still a great game, but not as good as the five other Metroid games.

Available on: Wii (either standalone or part of the Metroid Prime Trilogy collection, either playable on Wii U via Wii mode)

5. Metroid Fusion

Fusion, along with Prime, ended the eight year-long drought of Metroid games. Fusion too, was narrative-heavy, as it limited Samus from exploring much of the game's area for much of the game.

The game's plot offers a unique gameplay mechanic: Samus is infected by a parasitic virus and as doctors cannot remove her power armor, they have but one option: using DNA from Metroids—the parasite's natural predators—to cure Samus, drastically altering her appearance. Now, Samus' new Metroid suit allows her to absorb X virus to acquire health, ammo, or epuipment upgrades. The game offers a good amount of challenge and a compelling story, and is only hampered by the linearity as mentioned..

Available on: Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 3DS (VC, but only for 3DS Ambassadors), Wii U (VC)

4. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Echoes, the 2nd game in the Prime Trilogy, features much of the exploration and combat that makes Metroid games so fun. Unique to Metroid 2 is that the game's world is split into "Light" and "Dark" halves, with the Dark World featuring an atmosphere that's toxic to Samus' armor. The game also features consumable ammo for some of her beams, and a challenging selection of bosses (Boost guardian, anyone?)

Available on: Nintendo Gamecube, Wii (either via Gamecube disc or the Metroid Prime Trilogy), Wii U (Trilogy, playable on Wii mode)

Super Metroid (via Wikipedia)
Super Metroid (via Wikipedia)

Metroid Prime Trilogy on Amazon

The Top Tier

3. Metroid: Zero Mission

Zero Mission, as mentioned, is a remake of the original Metroid, featuring many of the same areas and plot elements as the original, but with additional content following the original game's final area in which Samus crash lands, loses her power suit, and must infiltrate a space pirate-controlled ruins wearing only her stealthy zero-suit - a suit that is now a rather infamous part of Samus' character and design. Regardless, the game is an excellent remake, full of well-hidden secrets and remade bosses, and is a perfect way for people to get into the series.

Available on: Game Boy Advance, Wii U (VC, Japan only for now, but will likely see release in other regions soon)

2. Super Metroid

I may be a little controversial by putting Super Metroid only at 2, but even so make no mistake: Super Metroid is one of the best games of its generation. The game is a direct sequel to Metroid II, in which Samus saves the last Metroid, a baby, which is given to scientists for research. However, space pirates raid the lab and steal the baby just as Samus arrives to help. She chases the pirates back to the planet which the original Metroid takes place on to recover the Metroid and stop the pirates once more.

Super Metroid is cited for its excellent explorative gameplay and its very open-ended nature, asking the player to figure everything out instead of giving any sort of clue or tip. The game also features plenty of secrets and excellent gameplay mechanics. Its no wonder many people consider this their favorite Metroid game to this day.

Available on: Super Nintendo, Wii (VC), Wii U (VC)

1. Metroid Prime

However, I have found myself enjoying the original Metroid Prime that much more. In this game, Samus receives a distress call from another research lab again raided by space pirates, who have taken over a nearby planet rich in Phazon in hopes to weaponizing it, and so Samus goes to the planet to investigate and put a stop to the space pirates' plans once more.

At the time of its release, the 3D, first-person perspective that the game features was met with caution and even derision by fans who did not believe that type of style would work with Metroid's gameplay. However, the game still featured plenty of exploration, tons of varied areas to run through, and a good set of bosses and hidden items. The game also features swappable-on-the-fly beams, multiple visors such as a scan or infrared visor, and third-person morphball mechnics that meld seamlessly into the experience.

The debate between whether Super Metroid or Metroid Prime is better is a debate that may never be decided, however I personally enjoyed Prime just a little bit more.

Available on: Nintendo Gamecube, Wii (either via Gamecube disc or the Metroid Prime Trilogy), Wii U (Trilogy, playable on Wii mode)

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    • Gilbert M. profile image

      Ron A. 2 years ago from California

      I hated Other M due to the infuriating sections where you had to spot some area in the darkness to advance. I also hated how Samus was weakened as a character, needing permission from some a-hole to turn on her items.