How to Play Metroid: Part 2
Posted by Kris Randazzo on Mar 23rd 2023
More Metroid? Madness!
Welcome back! When we left off, we had made it through the series origins and the main Prime games. Now it’s time to get back to the beginning with just about one of the best darn remakes ever made. We’ll also be figuring out where to put those pesky “not so great” Metroid games, and how to play through the series if you just want the basics. Let’s get back to it!
8. Metroid: Zero Mission (2004)
Time for some time travel. Zero Mission is a remake of Metroid on NES, and a brilliant one at that. The most important gameplay evolution you’ll find here is a different sense of weight for Samus. Where in everything we’ve played so far she felt a bit floaty, Zero Mission presents Samus as faster and heavier. This originated in Fusion which was released 2 years prior, but for the sake of story, we haven’t gotten there yet. As for how to play it, as of this writing Wii U Virtual Console is your best bet, but once that’s gone, you’re stuck tracking down an incredibly expensive cartridge. Don’t fret though, this game is more than likely going to wind up on Switch sooner than later.
9. Metroid: Samus Returns (2017)
Speaking of remakes, the next game you’re going to want to play is Metroid: Samus Returns. This game got a decent amount of flack for introducing and subsequently relying a little too much on a new parry mechanic, but man is this game ever cool. It’s also a direct predecessor in terms of gameplay to the spectacular Metroid Dread, which we’ll get to in a bit. Of all the games that needed a remake, Metroid II was at the very top of the list, and in all the ways that counted most, Samus Returns knocked it out of the park. It isn’t perfect, but it’s for sure the better way to play this part of the story.
Unfortunately, this one is only available on 3DS, which is particularly killer because it’s a gorgeous game that’s positively begging for HD visuals and a proper controller to play with.
10. Metroid Fusion (2002)
Feel free to replay Super Metroid here if you want complete continuity, but since we’ve already done that game, it’s time to get around to Metroid 4. Fusion is a bit of an odd duck in that it’s far more linear than Metroid games usually are. It’s also got a LOT of talking, and some questionable backstory stuff involving Samus’s former CO Adam Malkovich.
However, even if that stuff isn’t your cup of tea, the rest of the game is fantastic. The coolest thing here is the SA-X. Dark Samus from the Prime games (and Smash Bros. fame) was a corrupted, evil doppelgänger of Samus more or less. It was a creature, not a clone, but it was malicious. SA-X is something far more terrifying. SA-X is an X parasite mimicking Samus as the height of her powers in Super Metroid. It’s also a mostly mindless creature. It doesn’t have malicious intent, it just wants to survive and kill anything it perceives as a threat. X-parasites are the primary food source of Metroids on their homeworld. And Samus now just so happens to be part Metroid, so the SA-X wants you dead.
Gameplay wise it has way more in common with Zero Mission than Samus Returns, but there’s no getting around where it takes place in the storyline, so playing this before Samus Returns would just be silly. It’s also got some seriously strong ties to Dread. Speaking of which…
11. Metroid Dread (2021)
And that brings us to the most current chapter in the Metroid saga, Metroid Dread. This game is an absolute killer. It looks amazing, it plays smooth as butter, and it’s tough as nails while rarely feeling unfair. It somehow takes every lesson learned through Metroid’s entire history and refines almost everything. There’s just enough cutscene story elements to get its point across, but it’s never overly talky like Prime 3 or Fusion. It’s more guided than Samus Returns, but not as open and easy to get hopelessly lost in as Super Metroid or the original NES game. It’s truly and honestly incredible, and has one of the most memorable final boss battles I’ve played in recent years.
And that brings you up to speed on the Metroid storyline, but you may have noticed that there are still 3 Metroid games left. Two of them are not what I would consider essential playing. But if you must experience all that Metroid has to offer, I recommend playing them as more of an afterthought. Curiosities. Things to be appreciated in spite of their glaring and numerous flaws.
12. Metroid: Other M (2010)
And when it comes to glaring flaws, there’s nothing quite like Metroid: Other M. This is not a good game, but it really does try to be. What’s here that works is cool, it’s just unfortunately buried under mountains of absurd control mechanics, terrible pixel hunting first person segments, and the less said about the story, the better.
It does have the second coolest Ridley Fight in the franchise though, and it’s mercifully not extremely long, but it’s still a mess.
13. Metroid Prime: Federation Force (2016)
Federation Force doesn’t do anything as egregious as Other M, but it doesn’t do anything particularly well either. Okay, that’s not entirely fair. This game can actually be a decent amount of fun as long as you have 3 friends with their own 3DS consoles and copies of the game in tow. If you don’t have that exact setup, Federation Force is DULL.
It’s the only Metroid game I’ve never finished, and I don’t have much more to say about it than that.
14. Metroid Prime Pinball (2005)
And this, my friends, is your reward. Once you've slogged through Other M and Federation Force, you get to play Metroid Prime Pinball, which is just a pure delight from top to bottom. No, it’s not a proper story entry in the series or anything like that. It’s basically the story of Metroid Prime turned into a pinball game. It rules. The music is great, the tables are well designed, and it’s even got a killer multiplayer mode.
And that’s all of them. If you want to play through the entire series, that’s the order I recommend you doing it in. But what if you want a truncated version? What if you just want to play the best of the best and get the important story elements? Well, that’s a much shorter list.
You're going to want to skip the NES original and Metroid II for Game Boy. They were groundbreaking when they released, but they both have various remakes that are way easier to play by modern standards. We're also going to cut out almost the entire Prime series. They're excellent games, but playing 2 and 3 at this point require getting used to some wacky controls, and in the broad spectrum of the Metroid mythos, the story doesn't really add all that much. And we're obviously skipping stuff like Hunters and Other M because we're only aiming for the best of the best with this list. So without further ado, the abridged Metroid play list is:
- Metroid: Zero Mission
- Metroid Prime Remastered
- Super Metroid
- Metroid Fusion
- Metroid Dread
What’s this? What’s AM2R? Well, it isn’t on the previous list because it isn’t an official Metroid game. It’s a full on remake of Metroid II, but it's also fan game, and one that I believe fits way more naturally between Zero Mission and Super. It’s arguably a better game than Samus Returns too, though I’m honestly not sure where I stand on that. Since it's largely based on Zero Mission, it presents a much less disjointed evolution when playing the series in chronological order. It takes some doing to play it today, but with a little effort you can figure it out.
And there you have it. No matter how you want to approach the series, these are what I believe to be the best ways to play it. And play it you should because Metroid is a pillar of gaming history. So many of the best games ever made are built on the back of this amazing series, and it deserves every ounce of respect that it’s gotten over the years and more. Now get out there and play some Metroid games! See you next mission!