Often considered to be the weakest entry in the Prime trilogy, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes nevertheless boasts the same brand of explorative first-person action that made the first game such a success, although with an increased difficulty and lacklustre multiplayer mode which took the shine off it for some players. We'd recommend playing it on Wii with the added bonus of pointer controls if the difficulty is an issue, but however you play, this sequel is still an incredibly good game.
Metroid Fusion — or 'Metroid 4' according to its intro — bears more than a passing resemblance to its SNES brethren, and that's likely its biggest fault. Though it's an excellent game in its own right, it didn't do a huge amount to distinguish itself from other Metroids and felt much more linear than its expansive predecessor. It also launched at the same time as Metroid Prime on the GameCube, which pushed the franchise forward at a staggering pace. Still, this remains an excellent 2D entry and the linearity arguably suits a handheld Metroid game better than a home console entry. It's well worth a look on GBA or on Wii U Virtual Console.
Metroid: Zero Mission is an excellent 2004 remake of the original Metroid, and a game that's in the conversation for 'best remake evs' (if that conversation is being held with a teenager during the 2010s). Zero Mission tells the story of the first entry, but with far snazzier visuals and Super Metroid-inspired gameplay. With save rooms and a bunch of new items, areas, and mini-bosses, this is the way to experience Samus' first mission. Sorry, zero-st mission.
If it came down to it, there are Nintendo Life staffers who would actually take this over the SNES game. It's that good.
Metroid Dread is a triumphant return for both Samus Aran and developer MercurySteam. This is a super-slick, hugely entertaining and exquisitely designed entry in the Metroid franchise that plays better than anything we've seen from the series so far. With a bunch of fantastic new abilities, super tense and enjoyable stealth sections, plenty of great big boss fights and a story that fans will definitely enjoy, we can't really see how this one could have been improved.
Best Metroid game ever? There'll likely be calls of recency bias until the hype settles in a year or two (probably around the release of Metroid Prime 4, in fact), but there's a very strong argument that 2D Metroid has never been better.
Metroid Prime is the kind of game that people say 'shouldn't' have worked. Despite finding the 2D heart of both the Mario and Zelda franchises and transplanting them into 3D, somehow there was extreme scepticism that it could also be done with the Metroid series as well. Perhaps it was because second-party studio Retro Studios was at the helm rather than Shigeru Miyamoto and his band of wizards at Nintendo HQ, but Retro managed to produce one of the finest games on the system, or indeed any system.
The design, extraordinary atmosphere and sense of exploration and progression of the 2D games all transfer incredibly well into a first-person shooter and while the Wii version might have added the pointer control scheme of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, there's still something to be said for experiencing the original using the controller it was designed for. With Metroid Prime 4 in development for Switch, now is a great time to rediscover the original and what made it so great.
We dislike overusing the word 'masterpiece', but in this case (and in the case of a chunk of top-tier SNES releases) it's absolutely accurate. Super Metroid is the standard by which all Metroid games are judged, and an impossibly high one, at that. If you're a franchise fan, you'll have played this to death. If, however, you've never dipped your toes into Nintendo's pool of sci-fi action exploration, this is the one you need to play. That's all there is to it.
Collecting the original Prime trilogy in one handy package with new Wii controls, difficulty options and other enhancements for the earlier GameCube entries (which received individual releases in Japan), Metroid Prime Trilogy is arguably one of the best compilation offerings in video games, ever. Purists may point to a handful of missing visual effects compared to the originals, but whichever way you look at it, this is a spectacular package — the best way to play these games, and a hardcore crown jewel on the most casual of consoles.
If only there were an easier way to play these on current Nintendo console, eh?
So where does your favourite Metroid place in this ranking? Let us know below how closely this reflects your personal Samus selection.