The Metroid series is without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite franchises in all of gaming. It’s a shame that there hasn’t been any new, great games as of late, but the series remains one of my personal favorites. The feeling of exploration, of traversing an unknown, strange world, and the feeling of growth you experience as you gradually add to your arsenal of weapons and tools, all blends so well in the series as a whole.
That being said, every game in the series brings something new to the table. It’s a new experience every time, with new weapons, new alien environments, and a new story to learn. Metroid has been a series with consistently quality games, and it’s honestly been hard to pick out my favorites. But, of course, I do have my favorites- some games that just stand above the rest.
5. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Starting off the list, we have the last Metroid Prime game, Corruption! Centering explicitly around the presence of the mutagen, Phazon, and the mysterious entity known as Dark Samus, this entry in the series brought with it a wide variety of new features. The ability to go into a Phazon-powered Hyper Mode, voice acting from *gasp* other bounty hunters, and a far more concrete story that spanned multiple planets, among other things, made Metroid Prime 3 stand out among the other Metroid games.
Corruption was just a huge amount of fun to play through. The Hyper Mode mechanic felt powerful, the story was actually pretty entertaining, and the monsters you fought felt intimidating as all hell. Corruption was jam-packed with action and drama, while simultaneously introducing you to a huge variety of unique environments that looked straight up stunning. However, it is only #5 due to the fact that it’s not very exploration based, and as such, loses a bit of the natural mystery and tension that the series is known for.
4. Metroid Fusion (2002)
A rather interesting take on the series, Metroid Fusion was for the 2D Metroid games what Corruption was to the 3D ones. The three previous entries in the series up to this point had been extremely exploration-based, taking place in natural environments that felt tense and mysterious. However, Fusion was just a bit different, in that, similarly to Corruption, it had far more of a focus on story and unique mechanics, but also provided a new source of tension and intrigue, in the mystery that the story provided.
Samus Aran ends up infected by an organism known as the X Parasite, and as such, has a new suit, and new abilities/weaknesses to match. The story then, takes place in the Biologic Space Laboratories, which the Parasite has run amok on, and with her new suit, Samus has to figure out what’s going on, and how to stop it. All the while, a mysterious imposter, dubbed the SA-X, roams the ship with Samus’s own Power Armor, a constant, imposing, threatening presence throughout the game.
This game, unlike any other in the series, had a consistent narrative that worked very, very well. It created a sense of mystery, in that, even though you are in a restricted environment, you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know what to expect. The atmosphere was unlike anything else in any Metroid game before, or after it, and made Fusion an extremely memorable experience.
3. Super Metroid
Widely considered the best Metroid game of all time, and for good reason, Super Metroid is an absolutely legendary game in the franchise. The game that defined, and for many people, exemplified, the Metroidvania genre, I can certainly say that there’s a lot that the game has going for it. It’s been considered many times, as one of the best video games of all time, period. It was a trailblazer, ahead of its time, and still holds up even today.
Honestly, what more can I say, that hasn’t been said already? The design of Super Metroid allows for a sense of exploration, the music gives a huge amount of atmosphere, the enemy design, the artistic choices, every piece of design feels refined, even though the game was released over 20 years ago. It has some memorable boss fights that hold up, even today, and overall, just. I loved it, and agree that it deserves to be held up as the best game. However, I personally love two of the other games in the series just a bit more.
2. Metroid Prime
Hold up, Metroid Prime, not in 1st place? Yeah, weird right?
Another contender for the best game in the series, and the best game of all time, Metroid Prime brought the series into the 3D age, and it did so in a magnificent manner. Super Metroid, from atmosphere, to sound effects, to artistic liberties, did everything right from a 2D perspective, so really, what direction was there for the series to go? In 2002, we got a diverging path, in accordance with this question: on one hand, we got Metroid Fusion, a very different take on a 2D Metroid game, and on the other, we got Metroid Prime, which exemplifies everything good about Super Metroid, except in 3D.
3D allowed for the Metroid series to flourish, and make an impact like no other game in the series before it, or since. Exploring a seemingly abandoned planet, trying to find ways to progress in the world, you, as Samus Aran, would face huge monsters, explore everywhere from wastelands, to volcanic caves and frigid tundras, and it felt amazing. With music that really emphasized that sense of exploration, gameplay that really showed off a sense of discovery, in reaching a new area, and little tidbits of lore scattered around, that added a sense of history to the world, Metroid Prime took everything Super Metroid was, and somehow made it better. However, despite this truth, it’s not my favorite game in the series.
1. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
My favorite Metroid game is actually the second in the Prime series, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. This game was extremely, extremely memorable to me, and thinking back, I think Echoes definitely deserves to be my legitimate favorite. Where Metroid Prime took the series into the age of 3D, and reveled in its ability to make the player feel like they were exploring the unknown, Echoes took that, and added just a pinch more of story.
The whole premise is this- that the Luminoth had once been a plentiful species on the Planet Aether, until a comet of Phazon collided with the planet, somehow splitting it into two halves, in two different dimensions- Dark Aether, and Light Aether. However, with Dark Aether, came a new, invasive, powerful species: the Ing. Faced with extinction, the few surviving Luminoth could only wait for the day someone, anyone, could help them- and whaddya know, Samus is there to help.
This premise is brilliant in just how open-ended it is. It is the basic good vs bad conflict that many series have had before, but Echoes takes that formula, and combines it with that sense of intrigue, of mystery, that previous Metroid games were so famous for having. Instead of wandering, looking for the next step to progress, Echoes feels far more like you are a lone soldier, wandering into unknown territory to fight an implacable threat. The atmosphere, the music, the lore, the gameplay, everything works in the favor of Echoes, making it my favorite Metroid game of all time.
Now, if only we could get that M-rated Metroid game…or really, any legitimate Metroid game at all. Please Nintendo?