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Why stop at 10? In my new blog, I rank the rest of the games I played in 2023.

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My Ranking of Metroids

This list is exactly as it sounds: my personal ranking of the games in the Metroid franchise. It's one of the few long-running franchises where I've played basically every game, and thus feel qualified to rank. Note that I'm only including what I consider to be the core Metroid games here. So no pinball games, co-op shooters, etc. This ranking is based on my personal, subjective preferences alone, and I will amend it over time as new Metroid games come out. Hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Last updated on December 7, 2021 (to add Metroid Dread)

See my other rankings of: Metroids | Marios | Zeldas | Final Fantasies | 2D Castlevanias | Fire Emblems | Gaming Years | Consoles and Handhelds | From Software Games | Nintendo Franchises

List items

  • Deciding between Metroid Prime and Super Metroid is, honestly, an academic exercise for me. I like them equally, as they both executed on everything that makes Metroid so great. Thus, all of those positive things I said about Super Metroid apply here as well. If there's any differentiator for me personally, it's that the gorgeous 3D art and first-person perspective of Prime made it ever so slightly easier for me to become immersed in the adventure (seriously, how did they make the transition to 3D work so well?). But both games are genuinely amazing, and they're comfortably among my two favorite games I've played.

  • To many people Super Metroid *is* Metroid, and it's easy to see why. This was the series at its best, nailing everything that makes Metroid such an iconic franchise. Its world remains among the best designed in all of gaming. The atmosphere was incredible, from one of gaming's best, moodiest soundtracks, down to some surprisingly effective and memorable moments. Its sense of isolation was intensely powerful. Super Metroid was a wonderful game I'm still not tired of playing, and it codified an entire sub-genre too.

  • Metroid Prime 2 gets a bad rap, as I thought it was a fantastic follow-up to its predecessor. I think its execution was very close to matching the original Prime, and it had plenty of fresh ideas of its own too. I also liked how intense it felt; in some ways I see it as the Metroid game geared towards the series' most ardent fans. From the puzzles to the bosses to the suffocatingly dark atmosphere, this game never let up. And I love it for that.

  • Zero Mission is what you get if you fix all the dated design quirks of the original, while keeping its sense of isolation and exploration intact. To me it's a strictly improved remake, and one of the best, purest examples of what makes Metroid great; it nails all the fundamentals. I could probably do without that extra final chapter, but when the rest of the game was this good I can deal.

  • The original Metroid was super cool, and in some ways I think it still embodies the spirit of Metroid as much as any in the series. The sense of isolation and exploration was just incredible, and to think this thing came out in the 80s is pretty wild. At the same time... it came out in the 80s, and brings a lot of dated design quirks with it. It can be a little hard to go back to as a result, but man, it's a neat thing. Respect.

  • Metroid Fusion was a solid 2D Metroid game. That's really the best descriptor I have for it. In some ways it bugs me that, like Metroid Prime 3, the world was chopped up into smaller bits. And I also think the dialogue was a bit excessive, forced, and not all that interesting. But those gripes aside, Metroid Fusion did enough of the Metroid basics well without going above and beyond in my mind.

  • Metroid Prime 3 felt like Nintendo's biggest push towards finding mainstream appeal for the series (which has never really had much). More combat and smaller worlds that were easily digestible made this a breezier game, but it also made for one that I didn't get sucked into nearly as much as the others; its world design felt like "Metroid lite." So while it was gorgeous and felt great to play, I sorely missed the deeper exploration.

  • I had mixed feelings coming out of Metroid Dread, but on balance its strengths outweigh its weaknesses. It followed in Fusion's footsteps as one of the most exploration-lite Metroid games, and I also didn't care for the EMMI sections that much. But it also controlled very well and gave the series a welcome audiovisual facelift, which made for another perfectly solid 2D Metroid game.

  • Samus Returns was an improved remake of Metroid II... but only slightly. Some of its frustrations came from the source material: it sorely lacked in exploration and variety. But I don't think the combat was good enough to make up for it, even with a counterattack and 360 degree aiming. It was also much longer to the point of being stretched too thin. For my money, AM2R was a much better Metroid II remake. If I could put that on this list it'd be well above this.

  • Metroid II wasn't a bad game, but it's hard not to see the negatives when compared to the rest of the series. For me it just didn't have the variety of environments and enemies that I'd want, and the exploration was pretty tedious by comparison. Still, it's not a wash: it's a big world that's kind of impressive for the Game Boy, and it also tells one of the most pivotal chapters in the series' lore.

  • My memory of Hunters is pretty limited, but I honestly think that's because the game didn't do much to stand out. My entire recollection of it is as a very straightforward and bland Metroid game, one that kind of felt more like a tech demo than anything. Maybe I would have liked it more if I got more into the multiplayer.

  • I still think there is a place in the world for a great, action focused Metroid game. Other M is not that game. I think the controls are clunky, the enemies and environments aren't interesting, and the story and dialogue are, well, atrocious. The fact that the game doesn't really even feel like a Metroid game is perhaps the least of its problems.