Nintendo took it as an opportunity to celebrate the franchise’s long history on Twitter, ticking off a list of each 2D Metroid game. It was a nice walk through video game history, but it was also a little weird. Some of the games, like Super Metroid and the NES original, included links to Nintendo’s website, telling fans how to play the classic games ahead of Metroid Dread’s release. Other games were included in the list, but offered no hints from Nintendo on how to play them, or if they’re even available to purchase.
It quickly became apparent that if the game wasn’t available on the Nintendo Switch, the company wasn’t going to tell fans how to play it. Which is strange, because every single 2D Metroid game is available for purchase on Nintendo’s digital storefront in some form.
If you want to play them all, you’d better get started soon. Metroid Dread releases on October 8, 2021.
Metroid and Metroid: Zero Mission
When it comes to long-running video game franchises, starting at the beginning isn’t always the best idea. Samus’ original 1986 adventure might be a classic, but like most games from the NES era, it’s a bit rough around the edges by modern standards. Fortunately, Nintendo revisited the first Metroid game in 2004 with Metroid: Zero Mission for the Game Boy Advance. The remake offers a more dynamic retelling of the first game’s story, complete with quality-of-life updates like save points and mini-maps and other features standard in modern Metroid titles.
The only downside? You’ll need older hardware to play it. Currently, Nintendo only sells Metroid: Zero Mission on the Wii U eShop’s virtual console library. If you don’t have Nintendo’s last-gen console, your only option is to track down an original GBA cartridge.
The original NES version of Metroid may be showing its age, but at least it’s easy to access: Samus’ first game can be found on the Nintendo Switch Online NES library, the Nintendo 3DS eShop, the Wii U eShop, the NES Classic mini console. It also unlocks after you beat Metroid: Zero Mission on regular difficulty, or on the GameCube version of Metroid Prime, provided you have Metroid Fusion, a GBA and a special link cable.
Metroid II and Metroid: Samus Returns
The original Metroid may have been the first game in the series to get an overhaul for modern audiences, but it wasn’t the last. Nintendo reimagined Metroid II: Return of Samus into the similarly-named Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS. Like Zero Mission, it’s more than a straight remake of the original game, offering players updated gameplay, new abilities and areas to explore and plenty of new and challenging boss fights to take on. Also like Zero Mission, you’ll need to pick up some old hardware to play it: Metroid: Samus Returns is only available on the Nintendo 3DS.
Rather play the original Game Boy version of Metroid II? You’ll face the same limitations. At present, Nintendo only sells a digital version of the game on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Your only other option is tracking down the original cartridge. If you choose that route, make sure to pick up a Super Game Boy while you’re at it — the Super Nintendo Accessory’s custom color palette is absolutely the best way to play the original version of Metroid II.
Age wasn’t kind to the first two Metroid games, but the same can’t be said about Super Metroid. The third game in the franchise is widely regarded as not only one of the best Metroid games, but among the best Super Nintendo games ever released. This is the gold standard of 2D Metroid games, and it introduced gameplay elements, UI elements and weapon upgrades that would become standards for every Metroid game released afterwards.
Super Metroid is available in the Nintendo Switch Online SNES library. It can also be found on the Nintendo 3DS eShop (although it’s only compatible with “New” Nintendo 3DS consoles), the Wii U eShop and the SNES Classic mini console. The game is playable on the original Wii if you happened to buy it before the Wii Shop was shut down in 2019, but is no longer available for purchase on the platform.
Metroid: Other M
It’s not as beloved as the series’ other 2D games, but Metroid: Other M still has a lot to offer. In addition to being the first game to give Samus Aran a voice, it takes the novel approach of mixing the side-scrolling aesthetic of classic Metroid games with the first-person shooter action of the Metroid Prime series, actively switching between the two modes whenever the player points the Wii remote at the screen. Fans are split on the way the story puts the heroine in a somewhat subservient role, but the game is still a blast.
It serves as a prequel to Metroid Fusion (despite being released 8 years later), but doesn’t count as one of the series “numbered games,” as Metroid Fusion calls itself “Metroid 4,” and the upcoming Metroid Dread has claimed number 5.
Metroid: Other M is only available on the Wii, if you have the original disc, and on the Wii U virtual console.
Wondering why Samus’ armor looks a little different in trailers for Metroid Dread? You might want to play Metroid Fusion. This 2002 Game Boy Advance game billed itself as Metroid 4, and though it was much more linear than previous Metroid games, it quickly became a fan favorite for combining the best of Super Metroid’s gameplay philosophy with a story-driven experience. It’s absolutely one of Samus’ best adventures — which is why it’s a shame that it’s so hard to find a copy to play.
Metroid Fusion is only available on its original GBA cartridge, and as a virtual console game on the Wii U eShop. If you purchased a Nintendo 3DS when the console launched, you might also have access to it through the 3DS Ambassador program, which gave early adopters a small collection of exclusive Game Boy Advance games as a “thank you” for buying the console before Nintendo dropped the price — but Metroid Fusion isn’t available to purchase for newer 3DS owners by any means.
That brings us to Metroid Dread, a sequel 15 years in the making. This game was originally intended to be a Nintendo DS sequel to Metroid Fusion with a focus on “fear-based gameplay,” but was shelved when the handheld’s console couldn’t match series creator Yoshio Sakamoto’s vision. Now, the game is releasing on the Nintendo Switch, developed by the same team that reimagined Metroid II into Samus Returns.
Getting your hands on this Metroid game will be easy. Metroid Dread launches for Nintendo Switch on October 8, 2021.