is a Japanese action-adventure game
franchise created by Nintendo
. Players control bounty hunter Samus Aran
, who protects the galaxy from the Space Pirates
and their attempts to harness the power of the parasitic Metroid
The first ''Metroid
'' was developed by Nintendo R&D1
and released on the Nintendo Entertainment System
in 1986, making Samus one of the earliest female video game protagonists. It was followed by ''Metroid II: Return of Samus
'' (1991) for the handheld Game Boy
and ''Super Metroid
'' (1994), developed with Intelligent Systems
, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
. The first 3D ''Metroid'' game, ''Metroid Prime
'' (2002), was developed by Retro Studios
for the GameCube
, and was followed by two sequels. Following Team Ninja
's ''Metroid: Other M
'' (2010), the series went on a hiatus, before returning with ''Metroid: Samus Returns
'', a remake
of ''Metroid II'' for the Nintendo 3DS
, in 2017.
''Metroid'' combines the platforming
of ''Super Mario Bros.
'' and the adventure
of ''The Legend of Zelda
'' with a science fiction
setting and an emphasis on nonlinear gameplay
. As they explore, the player fights alien enemies and obtains power-up
upgrades. The series is known for its atmosphere of solitude and foreboding, and there are few non-player character
s to converse with. The first ''Metroid'' games were side-scrolling
, while the ''Prime'' games adopt a first-person perspective
, the ''Metroid'' series had sold over 17.44 million copies.
''Metroid'' games are often ranked among the greatest of all time
. The series has been represented in other Nintendo media, including the ''Super Smash Bros.
'' series. Additional media
includes soundtracks, comic books, and manga. Along with the 1997 Konami
game ''Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
'', the early ''Metroid'' games defined the Metroidvania
subgenre, inspiring other games with continuous, explorable side-scrolling levels.
Original series at R&D1 (1987–2004)
The central figures in the production and development of the ''Metroid'' series are Satoru Okada
, who directed ''Metroid
'' and created the series; Yoshio Sakamoto
, who acted as a character designer for the first game and has directed or supervised the development of most of the subsequent games; Gunpei Yokoi
, who headed the R&D1 division and produced the first two games; Makoto Kano
, who wrote the scenario for ''Metroid'', co-designed the second game, and produced the third; and Hiroji Kiyotake
, who designed characters for the original game.
The original ''Metroid
'', an action game
for the Family Computer Disk System
, was developed by Nintendo's Research and Development 1
(R&D1) and released in Japan on August 6, 1986.
It was published for the Nintendo Entertainment System
in August 1987 in North America and on January 15, 1988, in Europe.
It was directed by Satoru Okada
''Metroid'' was designed to be a shooting game that combined the platform jumping of ''Super Mario Bros.
'' with the non-linear exploration of ''The Legend of Zelda
'' and a darker aesthetic. The name of the game is a portmanteau
of the words "metro" (as in rapid transit
) and android
, and was meant to allude to the mainly underground setting of the first game as well as its robot-like protagonist. Halfway through development of the original ''Metroid'', one of the staff said to his fellow developers "Hey, wouldn't that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?", and the idea was accepted.
's 1979 science-fiction horror film ''Alien
'' was described by Sakamoto as a "huge influence" after the world of the first ''Metroid'' had been created. In recognition of this, a main antagonist was given the name Ridley
, after director Ridley Scott
. The development staff were also influenced by the work of the film's creature designer H. R. Giger
, finding his style to be fitting for the ''Metroid'' universe.
''Metroid II: Return of Samus
'' was released for the Game Boy
in 1991 in North America and in 1992 in Japan. The American version was the first ''Metroid'' to feature a save system
. ''Metroid II'' also further established Samus's visual design, with the bulky Varia Suit upgrade and different arm cannons.
As R&D1 were committed to making another game, Nintendo brought in Intelligent Systems
to develop ''Super Metroid
'' for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
''Super Metroid'' drastically expanded the ''Metroid'' formula, with numerous new power-ups and a richer story. It was released to critical acclaim and is considered one of the best SNES games.
It was directed by Yoshio Sakamoto
, character designer for the first ''Metroid''; Sakamoto has directed or produced most of the 2D ''Metroid'' games since.
Nintendo considered developing a ''Metroid'' game for its next console, the Nintendo 64
, but could not generate concrete ideas; Sakamoto said: "When I held the N64 controller in my hands I just couldn't imagine how it could be used to move Samus around."
Nintendo approached an unidentified company about making an N64 ''Metroid'', but they turned it down, saying they were not confident they could create a worthwhile successor to ''Super Metroid''.
Samus appeared in the N64 fighting game ''Super Smash Bros.
In 2002, Nintendo released ''Metroid Fusion
,'' a 2D game for the Game Boy Advance
It was developed by R&D1 and written and directed by Sakamoto.
Its gameplay is similar to that of ''Super Metroid'',
but with a more mission-based structure that gives more guidance to the player. The team's next GBA project was ''Zero Mission
'' (2004)'','' a remake of the original ''Metroid''.
Both GBA games received acclaim. In 2015, R&D1 merged into Nintendo Software Planning & Development
''Prime'' trilogy and ''Other M'' (2002–2010)
In 2000, Nintendo producer Shigeru Miyamoto
visited the new Nintendo subsidiary Retro Studios
in Austin, Texas
and tasked Retro with developing a ''Metroid'' game for their new console, the GameCube
. It was the first time Nintendo had allowed an overseas studio to develop one of its franchises. ''Metroid Prime
,'' the first 3D ''Metroid'' game, moved the nonlinear structure of ''Super Metroid'' to a first-person perspective
Nintendo stressed that it was not a first-person shooter
but a "first-person adventure".
''Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
'' (2004) saw Samus switching between parallel light and dark worlds, and introduced more difficulty.
''Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
'', released for Wii in 2007, added motion controls
and has Samus exploring separate planets, with more emphasis on shooting action.
The ''Prime'' games were rereleased for Wii in the compilation ''Metroid Prime Trilogy.''
In 2005, Nintendo released ''Metroid Prime Pinball
,'' a pinball
spin-off, for the handheld Nintendo DS
''Metroid Prime Hunters
'', a multiplayer game
developed by Nintendo Software Technology
, was released for DS in 2006.
'' was in development for the DS by Nintendo in the late 2000s, but was never released.
A new 3D ''Metroid'' game, ''Metroid: Other M
,'' developed with Japanese studio Team Ninja
and directed by Sakamoto, was released for Wii on August 31, 2010.
It returned to a third-person perspective and placed a greater focus on story and action. ''Other M'' received weaker reviews, with criticism for its characterization of Samus as timid and emotional and its reduced emphasis on exploration. ''Polygon
'' described ''Other M'' as "such a massive misfire and a flop with fans that it practically killed the series", with no new major ''Metroid'' games in the following decade.
While Nintendo did not release a full ''Metroid'' game for the Wii U
, ''Animal Crossing
'' producer Katsuya Eguchi
mentioned in an interview how such a game could make use of the console's tablet controller to perform actions such as scanning enemies and retrieving information. A demo program for the Wii U, ''Battle Mii'', showed Mii
characters dressed in Varia Suits, as well as Samus's gunship from ''Other M''; this was later revealed as a minigame
called "Metroid Blast", which is featured in ''Nintendo Land
''Nintendo Land'' producer Shigeru Miyamoto
, who was also involved with the ''Prime'' trilogy, declared that this minigame reflected his ideas for future ''Metroid'' games, while also displaying the series is "a franchise that we value and we certainly want to see what we can do with it in the future". Miyamoto added that Retro is "a very high priority" in the development of more ''Metroid'' games. In 2014, a former artist from Next Level Games
revealed his company had interest in developing a 3DS ''Metroid'' game, going as far as building a prototype, before Nintendo asked them to do ''Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
In 2016, Nintendo released Next Level Games
' ''Metroid Prime: Federation Force
'', the first game in six years. Nintendo was criticized for releasing a multiplayer-focused spin-off, rather than a core series game after such a long interim.
Return to core franchise (2016–present)
In 2017, Nintendo published a remake ''Metroid II'' for the 3DS, ''Metroid: Samus Returns
'', developed by MercurySteam
It retained the side-scrolling gameplay of the original, adding 3D graphics and new gameplay features such as melee combat.
At E3 2017
, Nintendo announced ''Metroid Prime 4
'' for the Nintendo Switch
. According to ''Eurogamer
'', it was initially developed by Bandai Namco Studios
, but Nintendo was not satisfied with its progress. In 2019, development restarted under Retro Studios, developer of the previous ''Metroid Prime'' games.
The ''Metroid'' series contains gameplay elements from shooter, platformer
, and adventure games.
The series is notable for its non-linear progression and solitary exploration format where the player only controls Samus Aran
, with few or no other characters to interact with. The series has been a 2D side-scroller
in all its incarnations until the ''Metroid Prime'' series changed the perspective to a first-person perspective
, leading to a new first-person shooter
element. The player gains items and power-up
s for Samus's cybernetic suit primarily through exploration, and occasionally by defeating alien creatures through real-time combat with the suit's arm cannon. Many such upgrades enable further avenues of exploration.
A recurring upgrade is the Morph Ball, which allows Samus to curl into a ball, roll into tight places and plant bombs.
The original ''Metroid'' was influenced by two other major Nintendo
'', from which it borrowed extensive areas of platform jumping, and ''The Legend of Zelda
'', from which it borrowed non-linear exploration.
The game differed in its atmosphere of solitude and foreboding.
''Metroid'' was also one of the first video games to feature an exploration to the left as well as the right, and backtracking to already explored areas to search for secret items and paths.
''Metroid'' follows the adventures of bounty hunter Samus Aran
, who battles the villainous Space Pirates. The pirates threaten the Galactic Federation with their attempts to harness biological weapons such as the parasitic Metroid creatures and the hazardous Phazon material.
Samus was raised by the Chozo, an avian race, after her parents were killed by Space Pirates. She serves in the military of the Galactic Federation before departing and beginning work as a bounty hunter.
In the original ''Metroid'', Samus travels to the planet Zebes to stop the Space Pirates from using the Metroids to create biological weapons.
She defeats the cybernetic lifeform Mother Brain, as well as its guardians, Kraid and Ridley.
In ''Metroid II,'' Samus travels to the Metroid homeworld, SR388, to exterminate the species, but saves a hatchling Metroid that bonds to her and delivers it to the Ceres research station for study.
In ''Super Metroid'', Ridley steals the hatchling and takes it to Zebes, where the Space Pirates are attempting to clone the Metroids. Samus is nearly killed by Mother Brain, but is rescued by the Metroid, now grown. Samus escapes as Zebes explodes.
In ''Metroid Fusion'', Samus investigate a space station in orbit around SR388 swarming with organisms infected with virions
known as X parasites.
A vaccine made from the baby Metroid's cells saves her life. She discovers that the Federation has been cloning Metroids in secret, and sets the space station on a collision with SR388 to destroy it.
In ''Metroid: Other M,'' set before ''Metroid Fusion'', Samus investigates a derelict space station with a Galactic Federation platoon.
They team up to stop a clone of Mother Brain created by a Federation group.
The ''Metroid Prime'' series is set between ''Metroid'' and ''Metroid II''.
In ''Metroid Prime,'' Samus travels to Tallon IV to stop the Space Pirates from exploiting a powerful radioactive
''Metroid Prime: Hunters'' sees Samus respond to a distress call to the Alimbic Cluster, and fights alongside other bounty hunters against a creature named Gorea.
In ''Metroid Prime 2: Echoes'', Samus explores the planet Aether, which has been split into "light" and "dark" dimensions, and battles Dark Samus and the Ing race. In ''Metroid Prime 3: Corruption'', Samus searches for bounty hunters who have been infected with Phazon, while being slowly corrupted by Phazon herself.
''Metroid Prime: Federation Force'', the only game in which players do not control Samus, sees Samus mind-controlled by Space Pirates; the Federation Force battles to rescue her and destroy the Space Pirates.
The ''Metroid'' series has been noted and praised for its unique style of video game music
Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka
, composer of the original ''Metroid'', has said he wanted to make a score that made players feel like they were encountering a "living organism" and had no distinction between music and sound effects.
The only time the main ''Metroid'' theme was heard was after Mother Brain is defeated; this is intended to give the player a catharsis
. At all other times, no melodies are present in the game.
The composer of ''Super Metroid
'', Kenji Yamamoto
, came up with some of the games' themes by humming them to himself while riding his motorcycle to work. He was asked to compose the music for ''Metroid Prime
'' to reinforce the series continuity.
''Metroid Primes Dolby Pro Logic II
surround sound was mixed by a member of Dolby
Developers from Retro Studios
noted how the 6 MB
memory budget for all sound effects of a level in ''Metroid Prime'' was crucial in producing a quality soundtrack, as each sound had to be of high quality to be included.
Composer Kenji Yamamoto used heavy drums, piano, voiced chants, clangs of pipes, and electric guitar.
''Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
'' took advantage of the increased RAM
in the Wii
, allowing this allowed for higher-quality audio samples.
Kenji Yamamoto, who composed the music for ''Super Metroid'' and the ''Prime'' trilogy, copied the musical design of the original ''Metroid'' in ''Metroid Prime 3'', by keeping the music and themes dark and scary until the very end, when uplifting music is played during the credits.
In other media
Characters and elements from the ''Metroid'' series have appeared in different mediums. Samus has appeared in Nintendo games such as ''Super Mario RPG
'' (Nintendo Entertainment System
version), ''Tetris DS
'', ''Galactic Pinball
'', ''Kirby Super Star
'', ''Kirby's Dream Land 3
'' and ''WarioWare
Several characters and game environments have appeared in the ''Super Smash Bros.
'' series. Samus is a playable character in all five ''Super Smash Bros.'' games. ''Super Smash Bros. Brawl
'', ''Super Smash Bros. 4
'' and ''Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
'' also feature Zero Suit Samus, a version of the heroine using the blue form-fitting suit seen in ''Zero Mission'' and the ''Prime'' series. Ridley makes cameos in ''Super Smash Bros.
'', where he can be seen flying through the level Zebes, and in ''Super Smash Bros. Melee
'' both as an unlockable trophy and in the game's opening, where he is fighting Samus at Ceres Space Station. In ''Super Smash Bros. Brawl'', Ridley, in both normal and Meta Ridley forms, appears as a boss character.
Due to demand from fans, Ridley was made a playable fighter in ''Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
'' alongside fellow newcomer Dark Samus. Kraid also appeared in ''Super Smash Bros. Melee'' as a stage hazard in Brinstar Depths and unlockable trophy. Various other characters such as Metroids, Mother Brain and Dark Samus appear as either trophies or stickers in the ''Super Smash Bros.'' series as well.
Mother Brain was also the primary villain in the ''Captain N: The Game Master'' TV show. A Metroid-lookalike enemy, called the Komayto, was encountered by Pit
in ''Kid Icarus
'' for the NES
In ''Dead or Alive: Dimensions
'', a fighting game
developed by Team Ninja for the Nintendo 3DS
, one stage is a replica of the arena in which Samus fights Ridley in ''Metroid: Other M'' and features both as assist characters; Samus, however, is not featured as a playable character in ''Dimensions'',
as Team Ninja's Yosuke Hayashi stated in an interview that "it would be better to let her focus on her job rather than kicking everyone's butt in 'Dead or Alive: Dimensions''
. A Wii U
launch game ''Nintendo Land
'' has a minigame based on the series called "Metroid Blast".
have been made for various magazines based on ''Metroid'', ''Super Metroid'', ''Metroid Prime'', ''Metroid Prime 2: Echoes'', and ''Metroid: Zero Mission'' in both the United States and Japan. Samus Aran and other ''Metroid'' characters also featured in the ''Captain N: The Game Master
'' comic books by Valiant Comics
. In Japan, six short "E-comics" were created to chronicle Samus' life and were published by Kodachi.
Also in Japan, Comic Bom Bom
published a three-volume manga starring Samus, .
In 2003, two producers optioned the rights to create a live-action film based on ''Metroid'', but the rights expired.
Director John Woo
acquired the rights a few years later,
and his studio Lion Rock Productions was to produce and release the film before 2006.
Writers on the film included David Greenwalt
of ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer
'' and ''Grimm
According to producer Brad Froxhoven, the film would explore Samus's origin story
; she would be "an exceptionally talented, but also flawed character who was looking for redemption ... We wanted to see her struggle, to be humbled, and to be forced to rise up against crazy odds. And of course we wanted to see the cool weapons in all of their glory."
According to producer Brad Foxhoven, the film initially had Nintendo's support. However, Nintendo was protective due to the failure of the 1993 ''Super Mario Bros.''
Nintendo had no answers to the team's questions about Samus's personal life, relationships, and other personal characteristics, and was uncomfortable with the team "being the ones to propose those answers".
Foxhoven said Nintendo left the discussions appreciating that they needed to develop the franchise further if it were to become a Hollywood film.
In 2013, Sakamoto said he could support a film directed by Ryuji Kitaura, director of the CG scenes in ''Other M'', if the concept and methodologies were good enough.
''Metroid'' ranked as the 70th top game (collectively) by ''Next Generation
'' in 1996 and the 6th in 1999, and as the eighth best game franchise by ''IGN
'' in 2008. In 2001, ''Electronic Gaming Monthly
'' named ''Super Metroid'' the best game ever. All the ''Metroid'' games released by 2005 were included in a ''Nintendo Power
'' top 200 Nintendo games list,
''Prime'' in the IGN top 100, ''Metroid'', ''Super Metroid'', ''Prime'' and ''Echoes'' in a list by GameFAQs
users; ''Metroid'' and ''Super Metroid'' in ''Game Informer
''s list; and ''Prime'' and ''Super Metroid'' in ''Edge
''s list. The series has influenced games including ''Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Samus Aran was recognized by ''Guinness World Records
'' as "enduringly popular"
and as the "first playable human female character in a mainstream video game", although Toby Masuyo ("Kissy") from Namco
's ''Alien Sector
'' predates her by one year. Ridley was the second-most requested Nintendo character by ''IGN'' and number one by the fans to be added as a playable character to the ''Super Smash Bros.
and Mother Brain is often named among the best video game bosses.
The original ''Metroid'' has been described as boosted by its "eerie" music, adding a "sense of mystery and exploration" to the game by making the game "moody and atmospheric".
''IGN'' praised the well-timed music that helped add suspense.
'' described ''Super Metroid'' as better than the original "in literally every conceivable way", ''Metroid Fusion'' was noted for its "understated score" which fit the mood of the adventure and its excellent stereo sound effects, making it an uncommonly good Game Boy Advance sound experience. ''Metroid Prime'' was considered one of the best games ever made upon its release, winning Game of the Year
from various publications and websites. ''IGN'' called the aural experience with ''Metroid Prime 2: Echoes'' "mesmerizing". Music from ''Metroid'' has been frequently re-released as part of "best of" video game music releases. ''Metroid Prime''s soundtrack was called the best sound design on the GameCube
. The sound effects were also noted for a high degree of accuracy and blending with the soundtrack.
On the popular video game music site OverClocked ReMix
, ''Super Metroid'' is the tenth most remixed video game, while the first ''Metroid'' video game was twenty-fifth.
''Super Metroid'', ''Metroid Fusion'', ''Metroid Prime'', and ''Metroid Prime 3: Corruption'' each sold more than one million copies.
By September 2012, the series had sold over 17.44 million copies worldwide.
Sales of ''Metroid'' games in Japan have typically been lower than in the United States.
In particular, the first two installments of the ''Metroid Prime'' series didn't sell well in Japan, although it was believed that generally, Japanese gamers rarely like first-person shooters, since it can cause motion sickness
to many Japanese players,
thus it was suggested that the Metroid series was better suited to the American market, due to cultural differences. In its debut week in Japan, ''Metroid Prime 3: Corruption'' sold 32,388 units, ranking it behind ''Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan!
'', ''Super Smash Bros. Brawl
'', ''Wii Fit
'', and ''Gundam Musou Special
''. Furthermore, ''Metroid: Other M'' was the third best-selling video game in Japan during its week of release with 45,398 copies sold, ranking it behind ''Wii Party
'' and ''Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Airu Village
''. It sold an additional 11,239 copies the following week.
Along with the 1997 Konami
game ''Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
'', the early ''Metroid'' games defined a subgenre known as Metroidvania
. Tom Happ, developer of the 2015 Metroidvania game ''Axiom Verge
'', defined Metroidvania games as side-scrolling adventures with continuous maps, rather than discrete levels
, that require the player to collect items and backtrack. Other notable Metroidvania games include ''Cave Story
'' (2004), ''Shadow Complex
'' (2009),''Ori and the Blind Forest
'' (2014), ''Hollow Knight
'' (2017), and ''Chasm
In 2016, ''AM2R
'', a fan-made
remake of ''Metroid II,'' was released. Nintendo issued takedown notices
to halt its distribution, citing the potential damage to its intellectual property. ''AM2R'' was nominated for the Game Awards 2016
, but was removed as it had not been cleared by Nintendo for inclusion.
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Category:Science fiction video games
Category:Video games featuring female protagonists
Category:Video game franchises introduced in 1986