Known for a claustrophobic atmosphere, a taunting style of level design, and for featuring one of the first woman protagonists in videogames, Metroid has been a crucial part of the Nintendo family for almost 30 years. This August marks the game’s 30th anniversary (although it didn’t come to the States until 1987), and to celebrate Nintendo is… releasing a game that doesn’t even star Samus Aran. What?
When Metroid Prime: Federation Force comes out later this year, it’ll be the 12th game bearing the Metroid name since 1986. It’ll be the first since 2010, though, when the underperforming Metroid: Other M brought a temporary halt to a steady stream of Metroid games that ran throughout the ‘00s. Federation Force will be unique because, barring some kind of surprise, Samus won’t be the playable character. Instead players will take control of one of a squad of space marines whose abilities can be customized between missions. They’ll be able to join up with three other players for co-op action, a first in a series that’s always been about one single woman facing insurmountable alien odds. When you read a description today, months before release, it doesn’t really sound like a Metroid at all.
Of course that’s part of the history of Metroid games. Metroid has constantly experimented with and expanded upon its core ideas. Almost every new Metroid game has been met with quizzical looks from fans when first announced, but when the games are actually released they’re typical met with great enthusiasm. Metroid has always innovated within its own loose boundaries, and perhaps Federation Force will help forge a new path for the series without completely discarding its identity. Or perhaps it will wind up at the bottom of these rankings whenever we update them.
Let’s look back at the first 11 games to come out with the Metroid name on them, weighing them against each other in hopes of declaring one the best Metroid of all time. And since Metroid might be the greatest videogame series ever, it’s entirely possible that the game that tops this gallery is also the greatest game ever made.