Updated with Metroid Prime Remastered. Remember, this ranking is based on the games’ User Ratings in our database and is subject to real-time change even now. If you haven’t rated your Metroid collection, feel free to add your scores and potentially influence the order below. Enjoy!
What’s the best Metroid game of all time? The reveal and release in 2021 of ‘Metroid 5’, better known as Metroid Dread, caused a flurry of excitement and the surprise release of Metroid Prime Remastered following the February 2023 Nintendo Direct had many of us going back to either revisit games in the franchise or catch up on ones we missed.
We compiled our personal ranking of the best Metroid games long ago with Metroid Prime in the number one spot, but while we patiently await more information on the ever-in-development Metroid Prime 4, we thought it was time Nintendo Life readers had their say on the series as a whole.
We asked you to rate your favourite games in the Metroid series and now we proudly present this reader-ranked rundown of every Metroid game ever. Remember, this list is not set in stone. The ranking below updates dynamically based on each game’s User Rating in the Nintendo Life game database. This means that it’s entirely possible to influence the order even now. If you haven’t rated your favourite Metroid games yet, simply click the ‘star’ of the game you wish to rate, assign a score, and potentially influence the list.
Ready? Let’s charge up our Arm Cannons, replenish our Missiles, and head out…
Note: We’ve included both remakes and spin-offs, although there are a few exclusions: Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt and Metroid Prime: Blast Ball are both essentially demo versions of games that feature below, so they’ve been omitted, as has the NES Classics GBA port of the original.
We’ve also included Metroid Prime Trilogy which, as the title suggests, is a compilation of the three Prime games. Should this irritate you, simply imagine it’s not there and you’ll have your ranking of the individual games. Voilà!
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Next Level Games
Despite the undue hate it has been subjected to following release, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a very impressive, polished and playable package — the only real grumble we had is that during online play the lack of voice chat became maddening, and the game’s built-in chat function was an inadequate substitute. That aside, Next Level Games treated the franchise with the respect it deserves while successfully bringing co-op multiplayer to the Prime universe, albeit in a form that didn’t please hardcore fans starved for ‘proper’ Metroid content.
While you don’t get to play as Samus, this game is all about the unknown soldier — the average marine who signed up for military service in the Galactic Federation. Once you’ve accepted what Federation Force is rather than what it isn’t, it becomes a much easier game to enjoy and a thoroughly decent Metroid spin-off.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Metroid Prime: Hunters was Nintendo’s attempt to squeeze the 3D first-person Metroid Prime gameplay onto your DS, and it was a pretty good one, all told. It takes place between the events of the first two games in the Prime series and sees Samus investigating the Alimbic Cluster to find and recover artefacts scattered throughout the solar system. Meanwhile, she’s hunted by six other bounty hunters vying for her blood.
These days it feels rather limited, but on a DS in 2006, with three other players huddled around for some single-card multiplayer, this felt like little piece of magic.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Team Ninja
For some fans, the less said about Metroid: Other M, the better. In some quarters Team Ninja’s take on a Metroid game is regarded as a mess of 2D and 3D ideas; a game that introduced a load of flashy fluff to disguise a very linear experience which feels against the ‘spirit’ of Metroid. The blend of 2D platforming and 3D combat didn’t click with many players, and neither did the single Wiimote-on-its-side control scheme.
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy it, though, and even though it’s a long way from the classic entries in the series (which is most of them, to be fair), we don’t think Other M deserves the amount of vitriol it often gets. It tried some things, many of which didn’t work, but it certainly wasn’t just ‘more of the same’ — we respect it for that.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Fuse Games
Samus is up there with Kirby as a Prime (see what we did there?) candidate for a pinball game. Metroid Prime Pinball was as solid a spin(ball)-off as you could hope for, and dual screens of the DS felt like a great fit for the inventive Metroid-themed tables within. It also came packaged with a ‘rumble pak’ which slotted in the GBA slot on your DS ‘Phat’ or DS ‘Lite’ and added some subtle feedback as you pinged Samus around the table. A fun game and no mistake.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R&D1
While it set the template of the series and pioneered the delicate mix of exploration and gradual empowerment, we have to be honest here: the original Metroid can be tough to return to, even if you played it back in the day. The audio and atmosphere it conjures remains incredible, but control refinements and quality-of-life features we’re used to these days are largely absent from the Famicom Disk System/NES original and going back without the right mindset and context can be jarring.
Its biggest issue is that the fantastic Game Boy Advance remake Metroid: Zero Mission exists — truly the best way to experience Samus’ first adventure. The original has its charms, though. You just need to dig a deeper to find them these days.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Metroid II: Return of Samus expands on the original NES title nicely. There’s still no map for the game’s giant world, which isn’t necessarily a problem due to this game’s linearity, although it can be an issue if you put it down for a while and don’t remember where you got to. There’s a decent amount of exploration and hidden items to find, and the hunt to find and kill the 39 Metroids is fairly fun. Although nowhere near as refined as the 2D masterpiece that is Super Metroid, Metroid II has held up better than the original NES game and as such is still very much worth playing. Of course, the 3DS remake is arguably the best way to play the first return of Samus these days, but the original still has a lo-fi charm of its own.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: MercurySteam
The Game Boy sequel to the original Metroid on NES was remarkable back in the day, but if there was ever a perfect candidate for a remake in Nintendo’s back catalogue, that was the one. MercurySteam did a fabulous job updating Metroid II’s mechanics for the 21st century, giving a whole new audience the chance to experience an important chapter in the series’ story. Handy additions like the map were joined with a new melee attack which introduced a delicate balance of risk versus reward and the result was one of the best games on the system. It was no surprise that Nintendo partnered with the developer on Metroid Dread.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Retro Studios
Introducing Wii Remote control into Retro’s Prime template, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was a excellent conclusion to the trilogy (well, until the next entry eventually makes it a quadrilogy), a series of games that proved Samus could not only survive the jump into 3D first-person shooting, but absolutely flourish in that genre. MP3:C as a separate disc was subsequently rendered a tad redundant with the release of the entire trilogy on one disc, but this is still a cracking shooter on its own.