After nineteen years of waiting, a new 2D Metroid game is upon us. Metroid: Dread (otherwise known as Metroid 5) is set to be the grand conclusion of ‘the Metroid story arc’, according to the devs. Meaning that the thirty-five year old battle between Samus Aran and the titular aliens is coming to an end.
Fans are rejoicing over the news. But I’m sure newcomers were confused at the trailer. What is any of this? Why does Samus look different than she does in Smash Bros.? Why is this Metroid 5 when they announced Metroid Prime 4 a few years back? What does ‘end of the Metroid story arc’ even mean?
Well, for those who have no clue what’s going on and want to get caught up before playing Dread, fear not! For today, I’m going to give you a complete break-down of everything you need to know! We’ll be going over the complete timeline and story of the series so that you’ll be all caught-up and in-the-know for the highly anticipated finale to it all!
It may seem intimidating at first. Between the 2D and 3D games, hidden endings, and all the lore hidden in supplementary material like the manga that I bet you didn’t know existed, it can be a little difficult to tackle. But don’t worry, I’m here to clear it all up for you.
Let’s start with the timeline. If you put it all in order, the Metroid story looks like this:
- Metroid manga (prequel to Zero Mission/First game)
- Metroid (NES)/Metroid: Zero Mission (Zero Mission is a remake of the NES game for the GBA)
- Metroid Prime (GameCube)
- Metroid Prime Hunters (DS)
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube)
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
- Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS; we don’t need to talk about this one, ignore it)
- Metroid Prime 4 (presumably)
- Metroid 2: Return of Samus (Gameboy)/Metroid: Samus Returns (Samus Returns is a remake of Metroid 2 for the 3DS)
- Metroid 3: Super Metroid (SNES)
- Metroid: Other M (Wii AKA the Rough Patch)
- Metroid 4: Fusion (GBA)
- Metroid 5: Dread (Switch)
You got all that? Cool. Now we can actually start with the story itself. Beginning with the prequel manga.
The tale of Metroid stars Samus Aran, a badass and unstoppable bounty hunter that you’ve probably seen a lot of porn of on the internet. But before she was a planet-busting hero of the galaxy and a lot of people’s fetish, she was a simple human girl living on a colony world with her mom and dad. An ordinary, friendly little girl.
One day, her planet was visited by the Chozo, an ancient race of highly advanced bird-people. Shortly after this visit, her colony was greeted by another, much less friendly people: the Space Pirates, lead by the space-faring dragon Ridley. The pirates invaded the colony, slaughtering everyone with glee. Ridley murders Samus’ mother and prepares to do the same to her. But before he can, her father causes a massive explosion on the Space Pirate ship, bringing it down on top of Ridley and Samus.
The Chozo quickly returned to the scene, heartbroken by the devastation. Amidst the ruins, they found Samus, alone and barely alive. Pitying the poor girl, they adopted Samus and took her to their homeworld, the planet Zebes. Here, they genetically modified her, merging her human DNA with that of the Chozo, allowing her to survive on the harsh planet and to use her signature Power Armor.
While Samus was growing up, the Chozo discovered a deadly parasite on the planet SR388. Simply called the X Parasite, this unassuming but deadly organism had the ability to quickly kill then duplicate its host, then breed on a scale beyond any other race in the galaxy. Terrified by this threat, they went to a super-intelligent creature of their own creation, the Mother Brain, and came up with a plan to eradicate the X: to create a counter-predator, the Metroid.
Years passed and Samus reached adulthood. Now fully trained, she left Zebes and joined the Galactic Federation in order to battle the Space Pirates. Here, she came under the command of one Adam Malkovich, as well as a soldier named Anthony Higgs. While the others looked down on the young and rebellious Samus, Adam respected her, and she in turn respected him. Before each mission, he would ask her “Any objections, Lady?”, to which Samus would respond with a thumb’s down. A sign of mutual respect that no other soldier understood.
While Samus served in the Federation, disaster struck back at Zebes. The Space Pirates, lead by Ridley, who had survived having a ship dropped on his head and recovered by eating the dead bodies of Samus’ friends and family (yes, that really happens). The Mother Brain betrayed the Chozo, taking control of the Space Pirates, conquering Zebes, and taking the Metroids to use as bio-weapons against the galaxy.
Hearing of this, Samus rushed to save the Chozo that raised her. However, when she arrived, she was overwhelmed by trauma and terror, left completely helpless before Ridley and the Mother Brain. With a little help from Adam and others in the Federation, she managed to escape. However, the Chozo on the planet were wiped out and the Metroids fell into Mother Brain’s hands.
After this, Samus left the Galactic Federation and became a bounty hunter. Her first job: infiltrate Zebes, destroy the Metroids, and kill the Mother Brain. Alone.
This brings us to the events of Metroid 1/Metroid: Zero Mission. It’s exceptionally simple. While plunging through the depths of Zebes and getting stronger, Samus took her revenge on Ridley, killing him for the first time (and far from the last time). Then, after destroying the Mother Brain, she fled the Space Pirate base and didn’t look back as it exploded.
Thus ends the beginning of our story. Now, we enter the next chapter: Metroid Prime.
Samus received a distress signal from a research station in orbit of the planet Tallon IV. After crawling through the station’s depths and killing the giant parasite that brought it to ruin, she ran into Ridley, now with a sleek mechanical body (he shall be referred to as Meta Ridley from now on). Ridley flew down to the planet below and Samus gave chase.
On the planet, Samus discovered a Chozo colony that had been long abandoned. Long ago, a meteor crashed into the planet, within which was an extremely deadly and powerful creature: the Metroid Prime. Little is known of this creature; whether it was what the Chozo used as a model for all future Metroids or if it was simply an extremely mutated Metroid of unknown origin. All that was truly known is that it was the source of a deadly substance called Phazon. A substance that the Space Pirates were mining for themselves.
So, Samus did as she does. She stopped the pirate’s operation, destroyed Ridley once again, and opened the way to the impact site where the Metroid Prime lived. Along the way, her suit was mutated into the Phazon Suit, allowing her to safely traverse through the substance. However, the Metroid Prime would steal this suit from her after she defeated it.
Samus escaped and thought the battle over. However, deep within the crater, the Metroid Prime merged with the Phazon Suit. Thus, it took on a new form: Dark Samus.
But put a pin in that! Because now it’s time for Metroid Prime: Hunters.
After receiving a strange telepathic message, the Galactic Federation hired Samus to go and investigate to recover a rumored ‘Ultimate Power’. Six other rival Bounty Hunters, Trace, Weavel, Noxus, Spire, Kanden, and Sylux, stood between her and it. After defeating them, she discovers the source of the signal: a creature named Gorea, which had been sealed away in an intergalactic prison. Samus defeats it and escapes. While the true meaning of the Ultimate Power is never revealed, it’s believed that it was a lie sent by Gorea in an attempt to free itself.
Some time later, the events of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes begins.
After losing contact with the G.F.S. Tyr on the planet Aether, the Galactic Federation sends Samus to investigate. She quickly finds the crew of the Tyr dead, slaughtered by creatures called the Ing. While exploring, she meets U-Mos, the last waking member of the Luminoth, who explains the history of Aether to her. Turns out, a meteor similar to the one that crashed on Tallon IV landed on Aether, splitting the world into two halves: Light Aether and Dark Aether. This started a war between the Luminoth and the Ing, a war that the Luminoth are badly losing. Only when all the Light of Aether has been given to one side will the other disappear. Thus, Samus is sent on a quest to retrieve the light and destroy Dark Aether.
While on this quest, Samus is hounded by Dark Samus. After destroying the leader of the Ing and taking all of the Light of Aether away from the dark world, she has one last battle with her doppelganger. After seemingly destroying it, she escapes the collapsing dark world and took her leave of Aether, leaving the grateful Luminoth behind on a peaceful, balanced planet.
With that, we reach what was once the end of the Metroid Prime saga. It’s time for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
Samus and three other Bounty Hunters, Rhundas, Ghor, and Gandrayda, are summoned by the Galactic Federation. At this meeting, we learn that the Federation’s network is run by a series of organic super computers. One of which has been sabotaged by the Space Pirates. Even more concerning are the strange Seeds that have been striking planets and infesting them with Phazon.
As if in challenge to the Federation, the Space Pirates launch an attack during this very meeting. At the same time, they disable the defense system on the planet below and have launched one of the Seeds at it! In a manner of minutes, all hell breaks loose!
With the help of the other bounty hunters, as well as Federation soldiers armed with Phazon-weaponizing PED suits, Samus reactivates the planet’s defense systems, which destroy the Seed. However, right at the last second, Dark Samus appears and blasts Samus and the other hunters with a powerful beam. The battle is won, but Samus and the others are sent into a coma.
Also, Ridley was there.
When Samus awoke, she found herself equipped with a modified PED suit. Turns out, the attack implanted Samus with Phazon. She is now capable of self-producing and absorbing Phazon and, with the help of the PED, weaponizing it. Now, Samus may well be more powerful than ever.
Shortly after awakening, the Federation gives Samus a new mission: to destroy the other Seeds that made impact on three other planets, including the new Space Pirate Homeworld. Turns out, while Samus was asleep, the other three hunters, also armed with PEDs, awoke and were sent ahead, but all of them have gone dark. Now, it’s up to Samus to find out what happened to them and destroy the Seeds.
While on this mission, Samus makes a few key discoveries. First: the Phazon within her body often threatens to overwhelm her, so she must use the PED carefully. Two: the other hunters have already been consumed and now fight for the enemy, leaving Samus with no choice but to put them down. Three: with each Seed destroyed, the corruption within Samus only grows worse.
Also, Ridley was there. Again.
With all three Seeds destroyed, Samus and the Federation make an attack on the world from which Phazon originated. Here, Samus faces off against Dark Samus for the final time (for real this time… maybe). She destroys the planet, and all Phazon along with it, thus purging herself of the corruption within.
Now that the mission is done, Samus returns to the planet Elysium, a gorgeous sky world she visited earlier in the game. Here, she removes her helmet and peers out over the gorgeous view to mourn the hunters she had to kill. When she flies off, however, a mysterious ship gives chase.
What happens next is a little vague. There’s Metroid Prime: Federation Force, but we’re going to ignore that because it sucks and I hate it and it doesn’t really matter anyways. Aside from that, we have Metroid Prime 4 coming out, and god knows how that is going to effect the story. Will it take place after Prime 3? Or will it be slid into somewhere else in the timeline? We still don’t know. So consider the events immediately after Prime 3 a little mysterious hole.
Now, we can finally move on to Metroid 2: Return of Samus! Or Samus Returns, if you’re playing the 3DS remake.
Under orders from the Galactic Federation, Samus makes her way to the planet SR388, homeworld of the Metroids. Her mission: completely exterminate them. It would seem that the constant use of Metroids as a bio-weapon to threaten the galaxy has finally forced their hand. Now, it’s up to Samus to wipe them all out.
And wipe them all out she does! While doing so, she discovers the many evolutionary forms of the Metroids. Turns out, the creatures she’s been fighting all this time have been nothing more than larvae. As she journeys deeper into SR388, Samus is faced with progressively more dangerous Metroids. Right up until she faces-off against the queen of them all.
With the queen dead, the Metroids are officially no more. Or so it seems. On her way out, Samus comes across a Metroid egg, which hatches before her very eyes. Samus prepares to destroy it, but hesitates. The baby latches onto Samus as if she’s its mother and she finds herself incapable of killing it. Instead, she takes it with her back to her ship in the hopes of preserving it in a safe environment.
Interestingly, there is an added scene at the end of this game in the Samus Returns remake. Once Samus and the baby return to her ship, she is accosted by a mechanized Ridley! Samus and her nemesis do battle yet again. She defeats the space dragon, takes the baby Metroid into her ship, and flies off. Mission successful.
Not all is as well as it seems. Down on the planet, the X are beginning to hunt again. The universe may be safe now from the Chozo’s Metroid creations. But now, an even more dangerous threat has returned.
We’ll shelve that topic and move on to the most popular game in the series: Super Metroid.
After a brief recap of Metroid 1 and 2, we rejoin Samus as she drops the baby Metroid off at a research station for study. Unfortunately, not long after her arrival, the same station sends out a distress call! Samus rushes back, but she’s too late. All the scientists are dead, and the baby Metroid is taken by Ridley! Turns out, the Space Pirates have resumed activity on Zebes!
Samus quickly returns to the planet she was raised on and begins another crusade against the Space Pirates. Eventually, she reaches the core of the planet and prepares to confront the Mother Brain yet again. But before she can, she is attacked by a Metroid larger than any she had ever seen! Rendered helpless by the powered creature, Samus awaits her death. However, right as she nears death, the Metroid stops. With a sad, guilty whimper, the Metroid floats off. That giant creature is, in fact, the baby Metroid Samus had come to save.
After surviving that encounter, Samus faces-off against Mother Brain once again. This time, however, Mother Brain is armed with a new powerful body and deadly weapons. Samus is quickly overwhelmed yet again. However, when all seems lost, the Baby Metroid attacks Mother Brain and restores Samus to full strength!
Alas, the victorious moment is cut short. Mother Brain survives the baby’s attack and mercilessly strikes at it while it heals Samus. Right as it finishes its task and attacks again, the baby is destroyed. Its body explodes, showering Samus in its cells as it dies.
This gives Samus new strength. Now armed with the Hyper Beam, Samus annihilates Mother Brain. Upon its death, a self-destruct sequence is initiated that will destroy the entire planet. Quickly, Samus escapes. But not before rescuing some animals who taught her some tricks!
Sorry, speedrunners. Saving the animals is, in fact, canon.
This leads us directly into the events of Metroid: Other M. Yes, we are talking about that one. As much as I wish I didn’t have to.
Immediately after the conclusion of Super Metroid, Samus rendezvouses with the Galactic Federation for suit repairs. Here, they harvest the DNA of the baby Metroid that still clings to her Varia suit. After heralding her as the hero of the galaxy, she is sent on her way to continue her work as a bounty hunter.
Some time later, Samus receives a distress call from a research station called the Bottle Ship. Upon her arrival, she runs into a small unit of Federation soldiers. Among them is her old friend Anthony and her old CO Adam. They’re here on a classified mission, which Adam refuses to clue Samus in on despite their history.
Nevertheless, she decides to put herself under his command and not do anything unless he tells her to because this game decided to take the ‘strong’ out of Samus’ ‘strong female character’.
While exploring the Bottle Ship, things begin to take a sinister turn. A traitor among the Federation troops is killing the others off one by one. Clones of enemies from Samus’ past are popping up all around the ship. And evidence points to the Federation itself somehow being connected to it all.
Turns out, that’s because they are! This research station was built by the Federation to clone alien species for experimentation and weaponization. Among those clones are Metroids, brought back to life using the cells of the baby taken from the Varia suit, and even Mother Brain herself!
Who… is a regular blonde woman? Ooooookay. That… doesn’t make sense.
At the end of the mission, only Samus and Anthony remain. Adam has gone missing, presumed dead, and the rest of the squad has met their ends. After the rest of the Federation came in to clean up, Samus returned to the Bottle Ship. There, she fought with a clone Phantoon (who just shows up out of nowhere as a post-game boss for some reason), takes Adam’s helmet, and destroys the Bottle Ship.
I left out a ton in that plot summary. But that’s because the plot is dumb and long and complicated and it really doesn’t matter anyways, so you can just forget it. Anyways, next game! And the last one in the timeline! Let’s talk about Metroid Fusion!
The Galactic Federation sends a research team onto Planet SR388, with Samus as their bodyguard. While on the job, Samus is attacked by a strange yellow blob creature, an X Parasite. It seemingly does no harm. But later, it attacks her central nervous system, causing her ship to veer off-course into an asteroid belt.
Samus is picked up by the Federation to be treated. Unfortunately, the X Parasite multiplied and latched onto the Varia suit, essentially fusing it to her body. While looking for a cure to save her, the Federation doctors had no choice but to surgically remove pieces of the suit, drastically altering her physical appearance.
Just when hope for our heroine seemed lost, the Federation made a last-ditch effort. Using some of the last cells gathered from the baby Metroid, they concoct a counter for the X. In doing this, they discovered that the Metroids were the natural predator to the X. So, in order to save Samus, they merge her DNA with the baby’s, essentially turning her into the last Metroid. Even in death, the baby continues to save its mother.
Now fully recovered, Samus is given a new ship by the Federation. This one sports an on-board AI system. Oddly enough, it reminds Samus of Adam. Thus, partway through the game, she names the ship after him. But now I’m getting ahead of myself.
The research station containing all of the team’s findings from SR388 has mysteriously gone dark, so the Federation sends Samus to investigate. There, she discovers that all of the lifeforms they gathered were infested with the X, and they have completely consumed everything on board.
Interestingly, however, there are a few exceptions: the animals Samus saved in Super Metroid are safe from the parasite. Upon rediscovering them, they take shelter within her ship.
As Samus explores the station in an effort to combat the X, a horrifying discovery is made: the X parasite that had tried to kill her has taken form using the old Varia suit! Now a fully-powered Samus doppelganger pursues her with a cold, terrifying, and relentless wrath. Adam names it the SA-X.
Things only get worse from there. Samus soon discovers a hidden section of the ship where the Federation was cloning Metroids to use as bio-weapons, just as the Space Pirates did before them. Not only that, but the SA-X has multiplied, and now upwards of a dozen Samus clones are hunting her across the ship! And to top it all off, Adam was planted by the Federation to keep Samus on a leash! Now, they intend to weaponize the X as well!
Upon learning their true intentions, Samus intends to destroy the cloned Metroids and the X both. Unfortunately, Adam has access to the ship’s controls and he uses them to lock Samus in a room. However, as she makes a desperate plea, something changes within the AI. It turns against its orders, instead instructing Samus to crash the station into SR388 and destroy the planet entirely with all the Metroids and X on them. It ends this order by asking a familiar question: “Any objections, Lady?” Adam’s signature catchphrase.
As it turns out, the ship’s AI was actually built off of Adam’s personality. This was done in hopes that the AI Adam would be able to keep Samus in check, much like the real life Adam had mostly been able to do (or so they believed). However, they were a little too accurate in their recreation, leading to the creation of an Adam that would side with Samus over the Federation. Without meaning to, they essentially brought Adam back to life.
With a plan set, Samus makes her way to the ship’s control room. Here, she has a final confrontation with an SA-X. It’s a brutal and difficult fight (unless you know the cheese strategies), but Samus prevails. With the station’s course set straight into the planet, Samus flees.
But things take a turn for the dire when she reaches the hangar to find Adam absent. He had no choice but to flee when an Alpha Metroid broke into the hangar and attacked. Samus, still far from her peak combat abilities, is unable to defeat the monster. But in an odd turn of fate, an SA-X appears to attack its natural enemy. When it is destroyed, Samus absorbs it, restoring herself to full strength, and kills the Alpha just in time to escape.
Samus, Adam, and the animals all escape as the station crashes into SR388, causing a cataclysmic explosion that destroys both. With that, both Metroid and X have seemingly been wiped off the face of the universe. However, this has put Samus in bad water with the Federation. But given that she saved the universe yet again, she doesn’t feel too awful about it.
And that brings us to Metroid Dread. The conclusion to the story that began all those years ago with the first Metroid game.
What will happen? Will the Federation hunt Samus for the Metroid DNA within her? Will the X have somehow survived? What mysteries and terrors are hidden within Planet ZDR? How will the thrilling tale of the Metroids come to an end?
Those answers, I cannot give. But now, you are prepared to find them yourself!
Of course, I had to leave out a ton of details. While all of the important beats have been covered, each game is filled with a ton more than I could write about here. From multiple hundreds of pages of lore within the Prime games to more specific stories surrounding certain characters and locals. If you’re at all interested in seeing what else the universe of Metroid has to offer, I’d highly encourage you go and play these games for yourself. Exploring is the fun of the series, after all. I can only tell you about so much. The rest, you’ll just have to find.
But… you can skip Other M. No one will judge you.