What are the best Metroid games?
Staying cool between Metroid titles is as painful as being infected with Phazon, so we distract ourselves with lists.
From Space Pirates to radioactive threats, the Metroid franchise has thrown its worst at Samus, but she keeps calm and battles on.
Let’s celebrate this awesome adventurer by looking at our list of the top-tier games in the series.
The 15 Best Metroid Games
Multiple generations have been raised on Metroid, which is why we consulted the most credible sources online, like Game Informer, to create this list.
Whenever you need a blast of nostalgia to navigate through hard times, Samus Aran has something for you to play right here on this list.
Here’s our list of the 15 best Metroid games:
15. Metroid Prime: Federation Force
As you can see from the best multiplayer games of all time, co-op FPS games are ever-popular, which is how this made the cut.
The biggest strikes against it came from Metroid fans, themselves, who expressed outrage the moment the game was announced.
Revealed at E3 in 2015, this controversial game hit the shelves the next year amid turmoil in the Metroid gamer communities.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force strayed significantly from the original Metroid feel in crucial ways that resulted in lack-luster sales.
Still, it’s a fun multiplayer experience that has since found its place in the Metroid canon, despite the frustrating lack of a playable Samus.
That’s right – you won’t be playing as our favorite space hero; here, you’re a Galactic Federation Marine, and that didn’t sit right with everyone.
It may not be considered core Metroid, but for players who want a co-op adventure with lite Metroid flavor, though, this is a solid choice.
14. Metroid: Other M
In the Metroid chronology, this game takes place after one of the best SNES games of all time, Super Metroid, and before Metroid Fusion.
But Metroid: Other M marks another controversial shift in the franchise, this time because the writers introduced lengthy cutscenes with backstory and lore.
That doesn’t mean the story was bad; it received an IGN nomination for Best Story in 2010, though it lost that award to Epic Mickey.
Some reviewers argued that parts of the story were a step backward for feminism in science fiction, though, and the debate raged on.
Another interesting choice for this Wii title was the use of first-person perspective, which some gamers loved, and others decidedly did not.
There’s also the use of melee attacks in Other M, which was a new feature for the Metroid games at the time.
Overall, it’s a strong part of the Metroid universe, and fan reactions illustrated how much gamers had come to love Samus and her world.
13. Metroid Prime: Hunters
Metroid Prime: Hunters came out for the Nintendo DS in 2006 to strong reviews and good – if not stellar – sales.
A fair amount of this game follows what fans had come to expect at this point, building on the usual first-person adventure style.
It made strong use of the dual screens on the DS, displaying Samus’s HUD and radar for optimum battle and exploration.
In addition, this game featured voice chat and multiplayer functionality, which brought Metroid fans together in different challenges that upped the excitement.
This was such a slam dunk for the franchise and the platform that it’s one of the best Nintendo DS games we still love to play.
At a time when online play was expanding into nearly every title, Samus proved she was ready to carry us to the future.
12. Metroid Prime Pinball
Pinball has been a hit since the days of the arcade, and it quickly came to the best Atari games once consoles came to homes.
The title of this game may sound like a joke, but it is arguably one of the most enjoyable Metroid experiences out there.
Because Samus has a ball-shape morphing ability, it makes a weird kind of sense that we ended up with a Metroid pinball game.
Continuing in their tradition of modeling Metroid after Super Mario, the developers found inspiration from the success of Mario Pinball Land.
Those who love Metroid lore will not find much here other than look and feel and a few nods at Samus’s abilities.
And yet, the game delivers a solid gameplay and mood that’s perfect for gamers who love the stimulating pinball mechanic.
Minigames and high-level pinball tricks also have the spotlight here, bringing a variety of challenges that keep the entire experience fresh.
11. Metroid (NES)
The gaming world changed forever in 1986 and 1987, when the OG Metroid hit arcades and then came to NES consoles.
Cashing in on the popularity of the Super Mario Bros structure, Nintendo released this darker, science fiction adventure and instantly spawned a new franchise.
One of the most interesting narrative elements of Metroid was its non-linear storytelling, which enhanced the excitement of re-exploration through the world.
Samus Aran became a female character early in the game’s planning stage, when a developer floated the idea, and the team ran with it.
That idea left a lasting mark on science fiction and gaming, introducing a badass woman in the spotlight, where male characters traditionally reigned.
For decades, major news industries have examined this choice that was undoubtedly a game changer for the future of gender representation in games.
10. Metroid II: Return of Samus
Metroid got its first handheld game released in 1991 on the original Game Boy consoles, proving its big story fit on small machines.
Though critics didn’t love its graphics on the Game Boy, most reviews praised its contribution to the world of Metroid and the storytelling.
In fact, this is one of the best Game Boy Color games and continued to sell to fans more than a decade after its release.
Gameplay introduced several mechanics that remained core elements of Metroid going forward, which makes the title a major part of Metroid history.
Developers and fans have called the ending of this game “moving,” which is another part of what made it so memorable.
This title was so popular that it got a remake in 2017 for the Nintendo 3DS, complete with updated mechanics and graphics.
9. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
In case anyone questioned whether Samus could save the universe under the worst possible conditions, Corruption aimed to prove her worth once and for all.
Moving on to the Nintendo Wii in 2007, Samus took us through one of her most harrowing and exciting adventures.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption featured an evil doppelganger called Dark Samus who infected Samus with the radioactive mutagen known as Phazon.
This one was successfully released to critical acclaim across the board, winning notable awards for gameplay, story, and overall player experience.
It’s not any surprise, then, that Corruption sits comfortably high up on the list of best Nintendo Wii games ever made.
In 2009 and 2015, Nintendo re-released this game as part of an essential compilation known as the Metroid Trilogy for the Wii U.
8. Metroid: Samus Returns
This 2017 hit is a remake of the popular 1991 Game Boy title, Metroid II: Return of Samus, and it follows the same story.
Providing players with major updates in terms of mechanics, graphics, and setting, this remake aimed to bring fresh fun to an old favorite.
While the original was a Game Boy release, Samus Returns was also a handheld title – this time for the Nintendo 3DS.
That turned out to be a great choice, as the pseudo-3D ability of the console allowed for extra visual depth in the Metroid world.
There was even a special 3DS XL skinned for Metroid, known as the “Samus Edition,” for die-hard fans who wanted to show off their fandom.
And, yes, the game featured Amiibo support, which means fans could pick up collectible Metroid figurines that unlocked additional gameplay elements.
Awards rushed in for this one, confirming the lasting appeal of the story and the welcome update to visuals and mechanics.
7. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
The year 2004 brought Echoes to the Game Cube, where Samus faced a variety of enemies, including her evil doppelgänger, Dark Samus.
Google this title, and you’ll instantly find fans asking why it’s such a difficult and unforgiving game to play in the Metroid series.
They’re not wrong; it is known for being tough, and some of the hardest elements even got nerfed in subsequent re-releases.
But the difficulty didn’t hinder its critical acclaim, as this game went on to win IGN awards, Nintendo Power awards, and more.
The popularity of this title secured it a re-release in 2009 for the Wii, and then again in 2015 for the Wii U.
In addition to a memorable campaign, there’s also a solid multiplayer mode for Echoes that brought four players together on a split screen format.
The marketing was almost as interesting as the game, as Nintendo chose to release several in-world websites that caught the eye of alternate reality gamers.
6. Metroid Fusion
Samus is at home on any console, and this time she came to the Game Boy Advance with a short, but super-fun contribution to the Metroid universe.
Players who completed this 2002 release will remember that it was a bit more linear in its storytelling than many of the other Metroid games.
Despite that, it managed to pick up award after award, proving yet again that Metroid is a staple in Nintendo’s repertoire.
In 2011, we got a re-release for the 3DS, and then another in 2014 for the Wii U Virtual Console, but Nintendo didn’t stop there.
Following the success of this game and its 2021 sequel, Fusion got yet another re-release in 2023 for the Switch.
Much to the joy of Metroid fans, the Switch has been getting more and more re-releases and even remasters of Samus adventures.
It may feature some deviations to the Metroid narrative style, but Fusion holds its own with fans as one of the greatest in the series.
5. Metroid Dread
Let the title of this one be a fair warning: Metroid Dread is possibly the scariest of all the Metroid games, which is saying something.
It came out in 2021 as a sequel to the events of Metroid Fusion, which were no walk in the park for Samus.
Stealth mechanics provide much of the tension in this one that was originally meant to be developed for the Nintendo DS years earlier.
Instead, Dread came out on the Switch, and the updated graphics of the system only helped to enhance the fear that the title promises.
Though it has been out for only a handful of years compared to its predecessors, this title is already the best-selling Metroid game.
This was yet another award magnet of a Metroid game, pulling in accolades on top of accolades as if by gravitational pull.
Samus’s popularity only increased, and she got a nice cameo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – but can you guess where in the SSBU tier list she falls?
4. Metroid: Zero Mission
The first Metroid game ever released came out way back in 1986, which means that it was due for a solid remake in 2004.
That’s when Zero Mission came out for the Game Boy Advance, updating the overall experience to match the system capabilities of that time.
This is much more than a port; it features new content and vast improvements to the visual elements and overall mechanics.
It even scored as one of the 50 best GBA games of all time, showing up in the top 15 titles of the entire list.
Fans had only one major complaint: this game clocks in around eight hours at best, and often under five – it’s almost painfully short.
Still, there’s no arguing with the quality in Zero Mission, which faithfully improves on the game that taught us all to love Samus Aran.
It has rightfully been hailed by fans and critics alike as a masterpiece and one of the best remakes of a game ever made.
3. Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime introduced us all to a new creature and final boss for Samus to worry about: the eponymous Metroid Prime itself.
Released on the Game Cube in 2002, this is one of the best-selling games on that console, which saw a lot of awesome titles.
The storyline later became known as the Prime Trilogy, with two other games in the full arc, later compiled into an official trilogy release.
For fans who are keeping track of the chronology, the Prime adventures fall between the stories of Metroid and Metroid II.
A notable difference is the use of first-person perspective, occasionally making the action-adventure format more reminiscent of the first-person shooter genre.
No one should be surprised to find this one at first place in the list of best Game Cube games of all time.
2. Metroid Prime (Remastered)
With Metroid Prime scoring the honor of greatest Game Cube game ever released, it’s no wonder Nintendo was keen to remaster it for the Switch.
In 2023, that dream finally came true, and somehow Nintendo found a way to improve on one of the most popular Metroid titles ever made.
This was particularly exciting because initial rumors suggested it would be a simple port, so when fans got hold of the remaster, they were thrilled.
There’s always some low-key dread associated with picking up a port of your favorite game, but the developers took their task seriously with Metroid Prime.
Updated graphics, gameplay, and content demonstrated valuable contributions to the Metroid world, a perfect introduction for younger generations of fans.
If you’re hoping to have the best possible experience in this one, Kotaku has your back with a list of tips for optimum gameplay.
1. Super Metroid
For all the amazing Metroid games in the last ten or twenty years, it’s this title from 1994 that takes the top spot.
Released for the SNES, this is often cited as the best – or one of the best video games of all time, with good reason.
It’s the third part of the Metroid adventures, and it helped spawn an entire genre of games that came to be known as “Metroidvania.”
Fans particularly love its replay value, which has become a staple of great Metroid games that encourage curiosity and exploration.
This title shows off most clearly what developers loved about the film Alien – the movie that inspired the overall vibe and world of Metroid.
With all this in mind, Super Metroid is a not-to-miss game for any fan of Metroid, science fiction, Nintendo, or adventure gaming.
With decades of Metroid space adventures to choose from, it’s no wonder Nintendo sci-fi gamers are usually die-hard Metroid fans.
Starting with a dark twist on the Super Mario franchise, this epic world and lore exploded to cosmic proportions – and we’re here for it.
Whatever kind of Metroid experience you’re looking for, this list has everything you need to relive exciting hours exploring with Samus.
Here’s a quick recap of the 15 best Metroid games:
- Super Metroid (1994)
- Metroid Prime (Remastered) (2023)
- Metroid Prime (2002)
- Metroid: Zero Mission (2004)
- Metroid Dread (2021)
- Metroid Fusion (2002)
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (2004)
- Metroid: Samus Returns (2017)
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007)
- Metroid II: Return of Samus (1991)
- Metroid (NES) (1986)
- Metroid Prime Pinball (2005)
- Metroid Prime: Hunters (2006)
- Metroid: Other M (2010)
- Metroid Prime: Federation Force (2016)
Which was your first Metroid adventure? Leave a comment below.
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