The Metroid universe (メトロイド, Metroid) refers to the Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from Nintendo's famous Metroid series of science-fiction adventure games. It is one of the company's most successful franchises. The series has had eleven official games released thus far, with most of them being near-universally praised by critics and gamers alike. The series also has a compilation (Metroid Prime Trilogy) and two enhanced remakes (New Play Control! Metroid Prime and New Play Control! Metroid Prime 2: Echoes). The series revolves around the space-faring bounty-hunting exploits of a woman named Samus Aran.
After the perfect success of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda for the Famicom/NES, Nintendo began work on an action game inspired by Ridley Scott's 1979 horror film Alien, Metroid. Nintendo set the game in the labyrinthine, subterranean cave network of a science-fiction alien planet to help impress a feeling of desperation and solitude on the player, and attempted to set the game apart from other games by making it a nonlinear adventure-based game that required exploration and backtracking. Like Zelda, Metroid helped pioneer the concept of acquiring permanent tools during the quest that would open up the way forward once the player returned to earlier areas. Metroid was also one of the first games to contain multiple endings, which were awarded based on how fast the game was completed; this had a hand in popularizing the concept of the "speedrun". Finally, Metroid was one of the first video games to feature a female protagonist - and this was initially presented to the gaming public as a concealed secret until the game was beaten in a fast-enough time.
For all these reasons and more, the August 1987 release of Metroid for the NES was another revolutionary and enormously successful release for Nintendo. Metroid had a palpable effect on the future of the video game industry, integrating what was technically several styles of gameplay that had already revolutionized the industry on separate prior occasions into a new formula that was married with a foreboding atmosphere. The revelation that the player-character, Samus Aran - appearing as a suited, mechanized soldier that the instruction manual referred to with masculine pronouns - was a woman underneath the armor plating was lauded as innovative for blowing away established norms of females in video games (like the damsels in distress in Mario and Zelda). Many retrospectives, however, find faults with some of the original game's design and layout in comparison to modern action-adventure standards, and these shortcomings were only partially addressed in the first sequel, Metroid II: Return of Samus, released for Game Boy in November 1991.
But by far the most significant evolution of the Metroid formula was the seminal Super Metroid, released on the SNES in April 1994. With vastly refined combat, exploration mechanics, world design, and even dialogue-free storytelling, the game garnered universal acclaim and is often labeled by official publications as one of the best video games ever made. The greatest irony is that the American and PAL versions of Super Metroid sold well as a result of aggressive marketing by Nintendo that was spurred on by the game's poor sales in Japan. Analysts proclaim that the Japanese release of Super Metroid was poorly timed, not only because of more commercially successful games being released at the time like Donkey Kong Country, but because of the launches of the next-generation systems Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn. This was a big contributing factor to what became a now-legendary eight-year hiatus for the series, which remained dormant despite Samus' appearance in Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64, and Nintendo mentioning the possibility of a N64 installment which had never entered production.
The rebirth of the Metroid franchise at the end of 2002 was arguably one of the most daring and ambitious for any video game series; two completely separate, high-profile Metroid titles were released on the same day in the Americas, on November 17, 2002. Metroid Fusion, for the Game Boy Advance, was an all-new adventure based on the familiar two-dimensional formula of Super Metroid, but more noteworthy by far was Metroid Prime for the GameCube, the series' inaugural transition into three dimensions, which was highly controversial prior to release. Not only was it being developed by a then-unknown company in the United States, the Texas-based Retro Studios, but its presentation as a first-person shooter led to accusations of being a complete departure from the Metroid fabric. The released product allayed these concerns, to say the least; Metroid Prime garnered extremely enthusiastic acclaim for managing the task of faithfully transplanting the classic formula into three dimensions and using the first-person perspective to its advantage, and became one of the GameCube's bestselling titles.
The Metroid franchise settled into a more regular release schedule following Prime and Fusion. Metroid: Zero Mission, for the Game Boy Advance in February 2004, was a retelling of the original Metroid in yet another new title structured in the design style introduced by Super Metroid. While the original title allowed Samus to be playable without her armor using a cheat code, Zero Mission established Samus' abilities when outside of the Power Suit, making Samus playable in the new "Zero Suit" as part of the narrative. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, for the GameCube in November 2004, was a Prime follow-up that changed several concepts and was tuned to a much higher level of difficulty. Metroid Prime Hunters was an ambitious effort to present the graphically intensive Metroid Prime first-person formula on the restrictive hardware of the Nintendo DS in March 2006. The Metroid Prime subseries concluded temporarily with the August 2007 release of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii. The final chapter in the trilogy, the game introduced immersive motion controls to the series for controlling Samus and aiming her weapons, which were carried over to the Wii rereleases of the first two Prime games (all three games were later bundled as the limited-edition Metroid Prime Trilogy compilation for Wii).
After the conclusion of the Prime trilogy, Metroid: Other M was introduced in August 2010 for the Wii, developed by Team Ninja of Ninja Gaiden fame. Its new third-person action-adventure gameplay aspects were generally well-received; however, some reviewers criticized its approach to characterizing Samus, the voice acting and dialogue (with the English dub directed by the non-English-speaking Sakamoto), and the game's methods of telling a cutscene-heavy story, with the aforementioned elements causing a high degree of fan controversy and backlash. Thus, Other M sold significantly less than most previous console entries in the series outside of Japan, and marked the beginning of a second hiatus for the franchise.
During the Nintendo Digital Event at E3 2015, a new game in the series, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, was announced for the Nintendo 3DS and is a spin-off of the Metroid Prime series, with a 2016 release. The game is a co-op first person shooter, where the player assumes the role of a Galactic Federation Marine, featuring gameplay elements similar to that of Metroid Prime Hunters. Much like Other M before it, the game was met with a highly polarized reception for its graphical style, heavily reduced focus on Samus, focus on FPS combat over exploration, and its overall departure from the series' general style. Further criticism was aimed at the fact that the first Metroid game announced after the franchise's 5-year hiatus was a spin-off title.
With the controversy surrounding both Other M and Federation Force, as well as the five-year hiatus between them, the early-to-mid 2010s marked a period of uncertainty surrounding the state of the Metroid series. However, two new Metroid games were announced during E3 2017 - Metroid Prime 4 for the Nintendo Switch, and Samus Returns, an enhanced remake of Return of Samus, for the 3DS. The reveal of these two games marked the true end of the main series' hiatus, and, together with a new sub-line of Metroid amiibo, signaled the return of Metroid as one of Nintendo's flagship franchises.
Overall, the Metroid series is often held up as one of Nintendo's greatest classic franchises and maintains a dedicated fanbase, particularly in the West. Super Metroid and the Metroid Prime trilogy in particular have garnered significant praise from fans and reviewers. Samus herself, while not achieving the same level of recognition as Mario or Link, is widely praised as one of Nintendo's most iconic heroines and a groundbreaking example of proactive female protagonists in gaming.
The Metroid series stars Samus Aran, a hardened, one-of-a-kind professional bounty hunter raised by a now-extinct race of bird-like humanoids named the Chozo and sporting a powered suit imbued with fantastic Chozo technology. With an arm-grafted cannon that can shoot a variety of projectiles seemingly without limit, and a suit function that affords Samus the seemingly superhuman ability to transform into a perfectly spherical metal ball that can self-navigate tight quarters, Samus is regularly called upon by the primary known sovereign government of the Metroid setting, the Galactic Federation, to go on infiltration missions into planets and compounds occupied by races of alien Space Pirates. The series' namesake is a floating, jellyfish-like lifeform called a Metroid, which has the seemingly supernatural ability to siphon life energy out of its victims; Space Pirates seek to breed and harness these creatures, so it is up to Samus, seemingly the only individual with the upgradeable weaponry capable of killing them, to explore Space Pirate-occupied worlds and destroy their operations down to the core. Each primary Metroid title adds to a chronology of canonical games, which is laid out below:
Despite there being no Metroid game on the Nintendo 64, the Metroid franchise is represented as one of several "standard universes" found in Super Smash Bros.. There is a total of one character and one stage representing Metroid, both which focus on the original Metroid, and the recent Super Metroid. This game makes Samus's only appearance on the Nintendo 64.
Much like the Smash 64, there was no new Metroid game released before Melee, so the majority of Metroid representation is still from the original Metroid and Super Metroid. This game features much more Metroid content than Smash 64, including one returning character, two new stages, and a handful of trophies. This game also introduces the first Metroid item.
Full Trophy List
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (Metroid series)
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl
A fairly-decent amount of content from the Metroid franchise appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
On the final character select screen (after all characters are unlocked), Samus shares the fourth column with fellow Famicom/NES-originated characters Ice Climbers, R.O.B., and Pit.
The series has two characters as before but now both are separate choices on the character select screen and cannot transform into one another.
Main article: List of SSB4 trophies (Metroid series)
These are all of the known Metroid trophies.
Main article: List of SSB4 Music (Metroid series)
Games with elements in Smash Bros. games
Main character and Bounty Hunter Samus Aran is playable in all four Super Smash Bros. games and the main enemies from this game, Metroids, appear as Assist Trophies in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Planet Zebes is a stage in Super Smash Bros., and its sub-areas Brinstar, and Brinstar Depths are stages in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. 4. The final boss, Mother Brain, appears as an Assist Trophy in SSB4. Norfair appears as a stage in Brawl with the returning Brinstar, although Brinstar Depths is absent. The boss Ridley is featured as a background character in Super Smash Bros., a trophy in both Melee and Brawl, is present in Melee 's introduction, and is a boss in Brawl. A Waver enemy is also in Zebes' background. Kraid also originates from Metroid as a trophy and stage element in Melee. Samus' Screw Attack, Missile and Bombs originate from this game. As for her normal moveset, her dash attack comes from the Speed Boost power-up acquired in most of her side-scrolling games.
Samus and Ridley take their Super Smash Bros. appearances from this game, with Ridley's appearance in the background of Planet Zebes in Super Smash Bros. being based on his sprites from this game. Samus emerges from a Super Metroid-style Save Station when entering battle. A clip of the introduction features Samus and Ridley fighting in a 3-D re-enactment of their fight on Ceres at the beginning of Super Metroid, with Ridley holding the baby in its talons. A Chozo Statue that stands up and walks around in the background of the Brinstar stage is based on the Torizo enemies from Super. Kraid also takes his Super appearance in Melee. The Brinstar Escape Shaft is modeled remarkably after Super, particularly resembling the platform-filled shaft Samus had to escape through in Super and the original Metroid, going from a cave-inspired scenery to a mechanical elevator room.
One of Samus' alternate costumes in Brawl and SSB4 is a palette swap based on the Fusion Suit. Additionally, the Fusion Suit appears as a trophy in Brawl.
The credits/main menu theme is an available song in the Frigate Orpheon stage. The Meta Ridley battle theme is also available on the same stage.
Trophies from the game include the Sheegoth, and the creature and final boss of the game, the Metroid Prime, with its exoskeleton and core forms being made into separate trophies.
Metroid: Zero Mission
Zero Suit Samus' appearances in Brawl and SSB4 originate from this game; after defeating Mother Brain, Samus loses her Power Suit, and escape while fending off Space Pirates while wearing a body suit, now known as her "Zero Suit", and stunning them with her emergency pistol, now known as the "Paralyzer."
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
One of Samus' alternate costumes in Brawl and SSB4 is a palette swap based on the Dark Suit. Additionally, the Dark Suit appears as a trophy in Brawl and SSB4. One of Samus' alternate costumes in SSB4 is a palette swap based on the Light Suit.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Dark Samus's design comes from this game. Her moves as an Assist trophy are based on her boss fight.
Metroid Prime Hunters
All bounty hunters from this game appear as trophies in Brawl. The song "Psycho Bits" which plays when battling enemies of the same name appears on the Pyrosphere stage
Metroid: Other M
Samus and Zero Suit Samus' designs in SSB4 are heavily derived from this game, and the Pyrosphere appears as a stage along with the Ridley clone in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. FG II-Grahams, Joulions, and Zeros appear as enemies on the Pyrosphere stage.
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