The history of Metroid

In light of Metroid: Other M's release on Wii, we take a look back at the entire run of Nintendo's Metroid franchise, from the 1987 original on NES to now.

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1987

Metroid - Nintendo Entertainment System

GameRankings Score: N/A

Developed by Nintendo R&D1 alongside Kid Icarus, Metroid hit the Nintendo Entertainment System very early in the console's lifecycle, amidst the likes of other born-to-be classics such as Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, and Mike's Tyson's Punch-Out!! Metroid's story begins with the galaxy in peril: a Galactic Federation vessel comes under attack by the nefarious Space Pirates, who steal samples of an organism called the Metroid, a creature that can forcefully leech life energy from any living organism. Fearing that the Metroids can be turned into dangerous biological weapons, the Galactic Federation sends Samus Aran, a lone bounty hunter, to the Space Pirates' base on Planet Zebes.

Originally intended by Nintendo to be a mix of Mario's platforming and Zelda's item-focused treasure hunting, Metroid introduces many elements that other games emulate to this day, such as exploration-based gameplay where power-ups have to be discovered in order to unlock new passages. It also features a uniquely open-world in Planet Zebes, multiple endings based on completion time, and most famously, a combat-driven female protagonist (one of the first in gaming).

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1991

Metroid II: Return of Samus - Game Boy

GameRankings Score: 77%

Return of Samus released on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1991, giving the titular heroine a handful of new powers and combat abilities that later became series mainstays. Regardless of the two-tone, green-and-black color palette, Return of Samus features graphical detail comparable to the original Metroid. Having defeated the Space Pirates and their leader, Mother Brain, the second Metroid title sees Samus hunting down and eradicating the Metroid species on their own home planet. Setting the scene for events in the next series installment, Samus "adopts" a lone Metroid hatchling at the end of the game, becoming the creature's "mother" via imprinting.

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1994

Super Metroid - Super Nintendo Entertainment System

GameRankings Score: 95.79%

Taking full advantage of the Super Nintendo's 16-bit technology and six-button control scheme, Super Metroid takes Samus back to the original setting of the series with increased production values and enhanced gameplay. Super Metroid's plot also brings back the Space Pirates from the NES title, whom Samus must defeat again in a new mission. Picking up right after the events of the previous game, the first moments of Super Metroid see Samus delivering the Baby Metroid to the Ceres Space Colony for the good of science. Soon enough, Ridley, the fearsome leader of the Space Pirates, kidnaps the Metroid hatchling with Samus helpless to stop him after a short battle. Following Ridley back to Planet Zebes, Samus fights her way through the heart of the planet to recover the Baby Metroid and put a stop to Mother Brain and the Space Pirates one more time.

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2002

Metroid Fusion - Game Boy Advance

GameRankings Score: 91.30%

Premiering on the Game Boy Advance, Metroid Fusion is the latest adventure in the series' chronological timeline. Taking place after Super Metroid and the Prime titles, Metroid Fusion introduces a new enemy, the X Parasites, creatures that mimic the appearance and memories of their host, killing it in the process. Fusion's story introduces a mission-like structure to the gameplay, along with altering Samus' combat tactics due to a near-fatal X Parasite infection that radically changes her biological and physical appearance.

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2002

Metroid Prime - GameCube

GameRankings Score: 96.30%

While its announcement as a first-person shooter initially met apprehension from media and fans alike, Metroid Prime released on the Nintendo GameCube to wide critical acclaim. Powered by new graphics technology and benefiting from a partnership between Retro Studios and Nintendo R&D1, Metroid Prime proved to be a radical departure from the 2D side-scrolling gameplay of Super Metroid. Occurring very early in the Metroid timeline, Prime revolves around Samus and her ongoing conflicts with the Space Pirates and their biological weapons experiments, which were recently relocated to the mysterious Planet Tallon IV. As a first-person shooter, the camera view takes place solely from the perspective of the visor in Samus' Power Suit. Retaining the exploration-based gameplay from previous games, Metroid Prime uses various elements of the heads-up display to help target enemies, find hidden passages, and scan the environments of Tallon IV for clues and hidden power-ups.

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