Best Metroid Games

Let’s rank the 10 best Metroid games of all time

The galaxy is at peace

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Eons ago, otherwise known as the NES and SNES era of gaming, people at my school were obsessed with the idea of “Nintendo’s big three.” What are the big three franchises that Nintendo has? In the days before Mario KartPokémon, and Animal Crossing, all the kids could usually say Super Mario, Zelda, and Metroid. That’s what I would say too, though sometimes you’d find the one kid who had to be a contrarian by saying Donkey Kong.

While Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda are both still two of the top-tier franchises for Nintendo, it’s become clear to me that Metroid was never really as big as it might have seemed. It sold well, but not well enough to have skipped entire console generations without a new entry. And with the modern gaming landscape and Nintendo’s focus on those best-sellers like Splatoon and Smash Bros., fans are almost lucky that Nintendo chooses to keep throwing this franchise a bone. But I’m glad it does because Metroid might be the best IP in Nintendo’s pocket. Sure, the series has seen some bad games, but when it’s good, it’s really good.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 best games in the Metroid series.

Metroid Prime Pinball
Screenshot by Moby Games

10. Metroid Prime Pinball

Consider Metroid Prime Hunters an honorable mention for this list, but if we’re going to include one of the series’ Nintendo DS outings on this list, it’s going to be Metroid Prime Pinball. This wonderful adaptation of Metroid Prime shrunk the planet of Tallon IV down into a couple of pinball tables with genuinely fun gameplay and some of the best graphics at the time on the Nintendo DS. Sure, it was a bit slight in terms of content, but just like any good pinball machine, it was the experience that kept players coming back long after they defeated Metroid Prime.

9. Metroid

There are so many great things about the original Metroid, launched in North America in 1987. The setting, the music (or lack thereof), and the puzzle that was the game’s map; it was all unlike anything else you could get on the NES. Perhaps the best thing, however, was that Metroid was a Password Pak game, and it didn’t take long for people to realize there were so many ways you could alter the game based on what was entered into the password screen. Justin Bailey, anyone? The game itself is one of the greatest on the NES, but in the days before the internet gave you everything you needed to know in the palm of your hand, sharing passwords for it on the playground was an exciting experience in itself.

8. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

The renowned trilogy of Metroid Prime games came to a satisfying conclusion with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Nintendo Wii. Not only was it the most talkative Metroid game (at the time), but it showcased the brilliance of the Wiimote and Nunchuck controller, giving players an FPS experience that was by and large superior to what a traditional controller could offer. It’s also home to what might be the greatest moment of the Metroid Prime trilogy: fighting Meta Ridley as he and Samus plunge down a seemingly neverending shaft.

7. Metroid: Samus Returns

Metroid II: Samus Returns gets a bit of a bad rap because it was a game held back by its hardware. The Game Boy just couldn’t do the isolated world of SR388 justice with its shades of grey. Samus Returns for the Nintendo 3DS rights the wrongs of the original release, giving players arguably the last great game from Nintendo on the handheld system.

Metroid Prime 2
Screenshot by Destructoid

6. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Ignoring its dumb but fun multiplayer mode, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was a worthy follow-up to its ground-breaking predecessor. It took everything that worked in the first game and set it on the planet known as Aether, a unique world where light and darkness are at war. The boss battles of Echoes might be the most challenging the series has ever seen, and its cruel lack of save points only added to its often hellish difficulty. But if you stuck with it and found all those Sky Temple keys, you got to experience one of the most satisfying titles on GameCube.

5. Metroid Fusion

Like a lot of Nintendo franchises, just because Samus Aran jumped to 3D with Metroid Prime doesn’t mean she was done with her side-scrolling adventures. On the same day the GameCube masterpiece dropped, Nintendo released Metroid Fusion, a sequel to Super Metroid that put Samus on a spaceship with a doppelganger known as SA-X. Fusion is one of the more lore-heavy entries in the Metroid franchise, cementing concepts like Samus’ fusion with the Metroid DNA and introducing a character known as Adam Malkovich to western audiences, who would go on to become an important person in Samus’s backstory. As for the gameplay and design of the BSL Station, they were pretty close to perfect and ideal for the burgeoning speed-running scene.

4. Metroid: Zero Mission

If Metroid Fusion carried on the tradition of 2D Metroid games, then Zero Mission perfected it. This remake of the original Metroid brought all of the gameplay enhancements stronger hardware can offer and combined it with one of the most tightly designed Metroid maps ever. I don’t think you could find a more perfectly designed game, where everything functions like clockwork. Plus, the added epilogue gave us Zero Suit Samus, who has been a staple of Smash Bros. and cosplay conventions ever since. That’s more than enough reason to give Zero Mission a spot on this list.

Best Metroid Games
Screenshot by Destructoid

3. Metroid Dread

For more than a decade, Metroid Dread was nothing more than a rumor, an in-game joke of a possible game that almost never came. When Metroid Prime 3: Corruption made reference to it back in 2007, it set the fandom on fire. Sadly, nothing would come of it until 2021 when Nintendo and MercurySteam released Metroid Dread for the Nintendo Switch. Whether or not this was the same Metroid Dread that Yoshio Sakamoto was dreaming up back in ’07 doesn’t matter. All that matters is this is one of the best games of its generation. And that’s not recency bias talking. If we revisit this list in 10 years with all the Metroid games that are released between now and then, chances are Dread will be listed exactly where it is right now, if not higher.

2. Super Metroid

The original “Greatest Game of All-Time” is still absolutely stellar nearly 30 years after it was first released. Super Metroid was the first time the very idea of what a Metroid game could be was explored to its fullest potential. The power of SNES allowed for bigger sprites, better music, and some of the most action-packed boss battles the genre has ever seen. No other game at the time captured the feel of being alone on an alien planet as well as Super Metroid did. While some may say Fusion and Dread topped what Nintendo achieved in this game, I would argue that neither of those has a final boss battle as emotionally gut-wrenching as the one at the end of Super Metroid. That fight is video game royalty.

Metroid Prime Remastered
Screenshot by Destructoid

1. Metroid Prime (Remastered)

Whether you are playing it on GameCube, Wii, or Nintendo Switch with the recently released HD remaster, there is no better Metroid game to date than Metroid Prime. It was a bit of a gamble at the time with some arguing Samus might not make the jump to 3D as successfully as Mario and Link. But she absolutely stuck the landing with Retro Studios’ deft hand guiding the experience and creating an adventure for the ages. More than 20 years later, Metroid Prime remains a masterclass in game design.

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CJ Andriessen
Editor-at-Large – CJ has been a contributor to Destructoid since 2015, originally writing satirical news pieces before transitioning into general news, features, and other coverage that was less likely to get this website sued.