The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked

A strong legacy.

When it comes to Metroid, there’s almost no need for an introduction. It’s the franchise that helped to kick-start the Metroidvania genre, and stands among most any of Nintendo’s other properties as one of the best series in gaming. Of the many titles the series has put out though, some are definitely better than others, which is why we’ve compiled our ranking of the best Metroid games of all time.

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14. Metroid Prime: Federation Force

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Federation Force certainly isn’t a bad game, but it doesn’t feel as “Metroid” as other games in the series; due in no small part to the absence of a playable Samus.

This spin-off casts you as a Federation Marine in the Bermuda System, taking on Space Pirate forces and other threats. Up to four players can play cooperatively in the missions the campaign is split up into, and there’s plenty of bosses to battle in Metroid fashion. There’s also a competitive sports-like Blastball mode that can be played online or locally, expanding upon what players can do together.

It’s a solid enough core concept for a game, but everything else around it feels strange or half-baked. The chibi, super-deformed art style of the game was a bit of a strange fit for Metroid, and a far cry from anything else we’d seen in the series before.

It also feels a bit awkward gameplay-wise. The closest comparison for how Federation Force plays would be Metroid Prime Hunters as it’s a handheld FPS, but it lacks touch controls and other features that would have made the title more intuitive to play.

Overall, Federation Force is a solid FPS title on 3DS, but it’s not enough to live up to the Metroid namesake. It’s about the only entry in the series fans can safely skip without missing anything.

13. Metroid Prime Pinball

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Metroid and pinball aren’t exactly two things that one would immediately pair together, but there’s a solid enough game for the concept.

Titled Metroid Prime Pinball, the spin-off is definitely a competent pinball game. The Metroid atmosphere is spot on with creepy sound effects and impressive graphics, and the game even throws in a few twists to the formula as one makes their way further and further into a game. You’ll need to collect twelve different artifacts through the various tables, that are gained by beating minigames or bosses.

While these elements are fun at first, they can start to feel old after you’ve dealt with them a few times. The end result is a Metroid experience that doesn’t have a ton of staying power, as there’s not much of a reason to go back after you’ve played through the various tables and modes.

12. Metroid II: Return of Samus – Game Boy

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

After Metroid created a brand new franchise for Nintendo, the studio followed up on the first game with an impressive handheld outing for Samus, and it still retains some notable charm all these decades later.

Return of Samus sends our favorite bounty hunter to the Metroids’ homeworld of SR-388, to eradicate the parasites forever. This concept presents itself through a decidedly different approach to its design, with gameplay that is entirely based on hunting down the creatures. Each area in the game has a set number of Metroids one needs to eliminate. Once the player has done so, an earthquake will occur, opening up the next Metroid-infested area.

This general design approach is copy and pasted over and over again, resulting in an engaging yet monotonous core concept. Luckily, there were plenty of different abilities to keep the exploration and combat interesting, including Samus’ wider array of Beam weapons and new Morph Ball abilities.

It’s not the easiest installment to go back to now that its remake Samus Returns exists, but it’s still a testament to the series’ openness to innovation with every installment.

11. Metroid: Other M

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Metroid: Other M is certainly a divisive game among fans, largely because of how it handles Samus as a character.

Designed by Team Ninja of Ninja Gaiden fame, Other M takes place in between Super Metroid and Fusion and gives Samus a voice in fully animated cutscenes for the first time. Sadly, this milestone is found in a story where the story is riddled with plot twists and narrative points which are repeated multiple times.

Fortunately, Other M’s gameplay is much more impressive save for odd choices tied to skill progression. The game uses a simple control scheme, letting players move Samus around 3D areas while platforming, solving puzzles, and battling enemies. Combat is mostly in third-person and more action-oriented than other Metroid games, while also giving players the option of switching into first-person to target weak points or examine one’s surroundings.

Team Ninja also did a good job of capturing the look and feel of Metroid, with plenty of eerie old ruins and atmospheric horror layered into the game. The alien settings and surroundings always retain the sense of isolation and the unknown, right up until a cutscene drags the player out of them.

It’s certainly not a perfect entry in the franchise, but there’s still a good time to be had with it, especially now that more recent entries have shown a clear dedication to more action-heavy gameplay.

10. Metroid Prime Hunters

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
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Metroid Prime changed the series forever by turning it into a first-person shooter, while still faithfully retaining the elements that made Metroid unique. After getting a couple entries on GameCube, the Prime series was also brought to Nintendo DS with Metroid Prime Hunters.

The game takes place after the Galactic Federation receives a strange transmission, and sends Samus to investigate and retrieve a potential “ultimate power.” Six other bounty hunters intercept the transmission and seek to retrieve the power, interfering with Samus along the way.

This sets the stage for a title where players must not only contend with the usual hostile environment, but also highly-skilled adversaries on par with Samus. At the same time, the title was created with the DS in mind, adapting to the limitations of the system while introducing things like touch controls and local multiplayer functionality.

It was truly impressive how Nintendo managed to create such a competent shooter on the DS, but it still felt like more of a proof of concept than a full-fledged title. All the same, it’s a fun portable version of the Prime design style and well worth a look from dedicated fans.

9. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Metroid Prime carried over to the Wii with Corruption, closing out the Prime trilogy in satisfying — if less innovative — way.

Corruption sees Samus team up with three other bounty hunters to stop a space pirate attack on the Galactic Federation, but things take a turn when the mysterious Dark Samus comes into the picture. What follows is a surprisingly story-rich offering from the franchise, and a fitting end to the saga driven by Phazon and the protagonist’s dark doppelganger.

Corruption also implemented motion controls for its shooting thanks to its being on the Wii, and while this is a big change from the last two titles, the controls work incredibly well. One can aim and shoot with incredible speed and accuracy, elevating the moment to moment gameplay in a way later re-releases of Prime and Prime 2 would utilize. Paired with the fact that Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is one of the most visually impressive titles on Wii, and it’s easily one of the best games on the system period.

The only real downside was that it felt far more linear than other titles, and less ambitious than the other Prime entries. Players are rather aggressively railroaded from one task to the next, and they won’t see much that they haven’t already been exposed to in the rest of the trilogy. As such, it only manages to be great when it could have been exceptional.

8. Metroid

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

While big improvements have been made over the years, the original Metroid still holds up fairly well today.

The sprites in the game stand out vibrantly, and even with the limited abilities of the NES, the game’s soundtrack is just as eerie and memorable as anything in the rest of the series. Likewise, the title’s design is impressively open-ended. The player has a large amount of freedom in where they go based on the abilities they have, and can make it a considerable ways into the game without returning to the intended path.

Gameplay-wise, it also holds up better than expected. Though it’s definitely slower-paced than more modern iterations, one can still blast and jump their way through dangerous areas with enough ease to make it engaging and fun the whole way through.

Metroid is an all-time classic, and any fan of the series will still find something special in this retro title that started it all.

7. Metroid: Zero Mission

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

While the original Metroid still retains its charm, that didn’t stop Nintendo from completely remaking it for the Game Boy Advance. And, fortunately for fans of the series, the end result was spectacular.

Zero Mission uses ideas from later iterations of Metroid — particularly Super Metroid — and lays those on top of the design of the original game. In addition to being able to more easily traverse and fight through the areas found throughout thanks to skills like ledge grabbing and diagonal shooting, there are new powerup abilities and mini-bosses. Plus, there’s the entirely new area called Chozodia to explore as an extended final act of the game.

Zero Mission also features the first instance of us being able to play as Samus in her Zero Suit, making her weaker and more vulnerable without her armor. This throws a curveball at players, forcing them to utilize stealth mechanics which recontextualize how they interact with the environment. It’s a simple, yet genius twist that shows the many ways in which the series can still innovate itself.

For these reasons, Metroid: Zero Mission didn’t just remake the first Metroid. It helped further the formula of the series in general, which wouldn’t happen again until years later.

6. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes keeps the same core design as Metroid Prime, but introduces just enough new elements to keep things fresh.

Story is a bigger focus this time around, as Samus discovers a mysterious force on the planet Aether that killed a squad of Federation Marines. This is where she meets her deadly doppelganger, Dark Samus, for the first time, offering a worthwhile rival for her to pursue and trade blows with throughout the game.

Echoes also has a unique mechanic that gives Samus a light and a dark world to explore, where changes in one world will lead to alterations in the other. You’ll need to explore both to solve puzzles and progress through the game, and while the layout of each is generally the same, the different dimensions can contain varying rooms, enemies, obstacles, and more.

Echoes was a great game in its own right, and while it wasn’t the huge change that the first Metroid Prime was, it remains a close second in terms of the series’ first person-style offerings.

5. Metroid Fusion

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Metroid Fusion was released right alongside Metroid Prime, a new 2D entry to match the big new change for the series. However, Fusion introduces quite a few fresh concepts itself. While exploring the surface of SR-388, Samus and her squad are attacked by the “X” parasite, which infects Samus’ Varia Suit and central nervous system. This leads to pieces of her suit actually molding onto her body.

The entirety of Fusion takes place aboard an abandoned space station that Samus is investigating because of an X parasite that has broken free. This new setting is accompanied by quality of life improvements like the ability to grab ledges or ladders, and Navigation Rooms to point where you need to go to next.

Fusion is likewise more linear than other Metroid games with a heavier emphasis on story, but it doesn’t suffer for it. The atmosphere in the game is incredible, and there’s a sense of dread that hangs over everything; especially during the pulse-pounding sections that force you to run and hide from Samus’ infected Varia Suit the “SA-X,” reanimated through the new alien threat.

Metroid Prime may have been the bigger release, but Fusion definitely shouldn’t be glossed over because of that. It was an excellent evolution of the series’ 2D design, and served as a somewhat positive final page for the series before Metroid: Samus Returns and Metroid Dread emerged from the shadows years later.

4. Metroid: Samus Returns

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Back in 2017, it had been years since we’d seen a proper 2D Metroid game, and fans held little hope of the series returning to its roots. Fortunately, Metroid: Samus Returns hit the scene and provided both a complete remake and overhaul of Metroid II and a return to the series’ 2D origins.

Samus Returns uses the same basic structure of Metroid II for hunting down the titular life leeches, but it implements all the years of innovations in the series to create a modernized spin. Players could still blast and jump their way across SR388, but they could also incorporate new mechanics like a melee counterattack to stop enemies’ attacks.

The remake also introduces new areas, content, and bosses into the game’s design. The evolved forms of the Metroids felt like larger departures from what players would have fought previously, and entirely new foes kept players on their toes even hours into a playthrough.

In truth, it feels like a brand new Metroid game rather than a remake, and it’s a great way for the series to get back on track. And, as Metroid Dread would later show, it served as a means of experimenting with new mechanics which could be perfected later on.

3. Metroid Dread

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

While Metroid: Samus Returns might have been the surprise return of the series’ 2D roots, Metroid Dread was the franchise’s true return to form.

Continuing the story where Fusion left off, Dread pushed toward new gameplay and story concepts for the better. Players were tasked with delving deeper into the mythos and impact of the Chozo, and did so using a quicker, more fluid version of the series’ trademark traversal mechanics. One could zoom through levels by sliding under obstacles, parrying enemy attacks, and otherwise annihilating anything that threatened to get in their way.

Or at least, they could do so with most things. The game also introduced the E.M.M.I., which served as a new foe that could stalk Samus with a ruthless efficiency until a specific powerup is obtained. The bosses were likewise beefed up to provide a real challenge to players, forcing them to utilize their skills and abilities alongside careful timing, attack pattern memorization, and other elements surrounding the fight.

It was exactly what a new entry in the series needed to be, and fans are understandably excited to find out what will come next from the series as a result.

2. Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime Remastered

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Metroid Prime changed the franchise forever, and it somehow perfectly adapted the methodical exploration and platforming of the series into a first-person shooter format. The game takes place between Metroid II and Super Metroid as Samus receives a distress signal from the space pirate frigate Orpheon, whose crew has been annihilated by their own genetic experiments.

Despite being in first-person, Prime really feels like a Metroid game. Exploration is the focal point of the title, and you’ll find plenty of mainstays like collecting items and powerups, and solving puzzles along the way. Flipping to a different perspective, however, gave the atmosphere and feeling of Metroid a huge boost; Prime’s world is gorgeous, mysterious, and deadly, and a scanner function in the HUD lets you uncover a ton of lore. It stands almost at the top of the series, and Metroid Prime was easily one of the very best GameCube games.

1. Super Metroid

The Best Metroid Games, All 14 Ranked
Image Source: Nintendo

Even after years of stellar entries, Super Metroid stands the test of time as the best of Metroid, and a highly influential game in general.

The title really cemented the idea of Metroidvania gameplay, giving players a huge world to explore with different routes and interconnecting areas. Of course, Super Metroid also did a great job of incentivizing exploration, with consistent bonuses and rewards to work toward. The game also holds up incredibly well with fantastic sprites and a memorable soundtrack that nails the vibe whether one is on a sprawling surface or the acid-filled depths.

Even decades after its release, hundreds of titles still emulate its design style and build upon the genre it helped start. Whether it’s Hollow Knight, Ori, or Dead Cells, the spirit of The Metroid series’ third entry is plain to see. Given this, it’s no surprise the first two games have been remade to feel more like it, and Metroid Dread brought back the same general framework so many iterations later.


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Author
Image of Hayes Madsen
Hayes Madsen
A connoisseur of all things RPG related, and always looking for the artistic expression in gaming. His love of Gundam is only matched by his love of Pizza. Playing Games Since: 1991 Favorite Genres: RPGs, JRPGs, Strategy,