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As unbelievable as it feels to write these words, Metroid Dread is just over one week away from release. On October 8, a 35-year-old story will finally reach its conclusion and, we hope, provide answers to questions fans have had for decades.
For the hardcore few, Metroid Dread promises to be the most exciting release of 2021. For everyone else? Well, the game's backstory might seem more than a little confusing and daunting from the outside. Why did it take 19 years for Nintendo to release a sequel to Metroid Fusion? Where do the Metroid Prime games fit in? Why are people calling this game "Metroid V" when there are like twice that many in the series at this point? Is Metroid Prime Pinball canon?
As GAMINGbible's resident Metroid enthusiast (translation: I have a deeply unhealthy obsession), I decided it was my job - nay, my purpose - to help ease any potential newcomers into the world of Samus Aran. Metroid For Dummies. Or Chozo For Bozos, if you prefer. You'll get that reference by the time we're done.
Koji Tazawa and Kenji Ishikawa's 2004 Metroid manga isn't technically part of the series, but it has been widely regarded as canon and provides some essential background on the origins of Samus Aran and her relationship to some of the other major players in the Metroid universe.
A young Samus Aran lives with her parents in a mining colony on a far-off planet. Sadly, this peaceful existence is shattered when her home is attacked by Space Pirates. Led by the terrifying dragon-like Ridley, the Pirates destroy the colony. Oh, and Ridley murders Samus' parents and everyone she loves. Like, right in front of her. That messes her up a bit.
The sole survivor of the attack, Samus is adopted by an advanced bird-like race called the Chozo. The Chozo take Samus back to their home planet of Zebes, where they infuse her with their own DNA and raise her as a warrior. This is where she gets her fancy Power Armour.
Samus' experience with the Chozo is that they're a peace-loving race, but they've made some mistakes. Unbeknownst to her at this stage, it turns out the Chozo created a race of biological weapons called Metroid. These Metroid were designed to combat the deadly shape-shifting X Parasites that threatened to overrun the galaxy. Fortunately, the Chozo's creation hunted the X to the brink of extinction. Crisis averted!
Alas, a deadly race of energy-sucking jellyfish isn't something you can just leave lying around. More on that later.
While our hero is away working under the Galactic Federation (space military, basically), Ridley and the Space Pirates attack Zebes. Mother Brain, an organic supercomputer created by the Chozo, also chooses this moment to use her immense tactical brilliance to take charge of the Space Pirates and help them seize the planet. Talk about bad timing.
Upon hearing this news, Samus disobeys her Commanding Officer Adam Malkovich to rush to the aid of her home planet and the Chozo who raised her. Samus does her best to fight off the Pirates, but suffers a PTSD attack when confronted by Ridley. Zebes is lost and the Chozo all but wiped out.
The events of the original NES Metroid and its 2004 remake Zero Mission begin a few years after the fall of Zebes.
Samus has left military life behind and now cuts about the galaxy as a fearsome bounty hunter. She receives a mission from the Galactic Federation informing her that a research vessel transporting Metroid from planet SR388 was attacked by Pirates, who pinched the cargo and took it back to Zebes with plans to breed an army of Metroid as weapons.
With her intimate knowledge of Zebes, Samus is the only person who can stop the Pirates. She returns to her childhood home and starts blasting. She takes down the Pirates, kills Ridley, destroys Mother Brain, and blows both the Pirate research base and mother ship to hell. But that's just the beginning.
Samus is in pursuit of a Pirate ship that managed to escape her attack on Zebes when she crash lands on the surface of Tallon IV.
Here, Samus discovers the Pirates are back on their bullshit, conducting experiments with an unstable substance called Phazon that arrived on Tallon IV centuries prior tucked away in a meteor. While the Chozo who once lived on Tallon IV did their best to contain what they called "The Corruption", the Pirates arrived and used the Phazon to transform local wildlife, Pirate forces, and even Metroids into deadly weapons.
Samus ultimately manages to defeat the Pirates, and a revived cybernetically enhanced Ridley (there's a lot of this), before heading to the Phazon-infested impact crater. Here, she meets the Metroid Prime, a hideous creature that turns out to be the source of Tallon IV's Phazon problems. Our hero gives the Metroid Prime what for and just about escapes the planet unscathed. But not before the Metroid Prime uses the last of its power to strip Samus of her Phazon infused suit and emerge as Dark Samus.
While Dark Samus plans its next step, Samus journeys to the Alimbic Cluster under orders from the Galactic Federation. You'll notice Samus takes a lot of orders from a military group for someone that's supposed to be a freelancer.
Samus' mission? To investigate a mysterious psychic broadcast that is promising "the ultimate power". This message is naturally intercepted by six other bounty hunters who race Samus to uncover the truth behind the signal.
It's a trap! Samus and her rival hunters are tricked into unleashing an ancient evil known with a name a bit like an STI: Gorea. Working together, Samus and the others manage to vanquish Gorea before going their separate ways, empty handed. At least they aren't left with a burning sensation when they go to the toilet.
The Galactic Federation has discovered Tallon IV is far from the only planet to have been hit by a Phazon meteor. They send Samus to investigate the planet Aether to discover what became of the Federation troops that were initially dispatched to look into the Phazon. Spoiler: They're all dead.
The Phazon has done a particularly bad number on Aether, managing to literally split the planet into the two states: light and dark.
Travelling between these worlds, Samus must once again fight off the power-hungry Space Pirates, as well as Dark Samus and Dark Aether's native Ing. She succeeds, obviously, and flies off for new adventures. Except Dark Samus survived its climatic showdown with our hero, and it's not happy...
Hell-bent on revenge, Dark Samus has reformed the Space Pirates and declared war on the cosmos. Phazon meteors are hitting planets faster than the Federation can respond, and its Mother Brain-inspired Aurora Units are being infected by a virus of Phazon origin.
While working with a group of fellow Bounty Hunters to repel a Space Pirate attack on the planet Norion, Samus is contaminated by a large quantity of Phazon. The good news is this gives her some sweet new powers. The bad news? It's also killing her.
Racing against time, Samus once again systematically tears through the Space Pirates, puts down a revived Ridley, and makes her way to the source of the Phazon meteors: the imaginatively named planet Phaaze. Here, Samus has one final battle with Dark Samus and destroys the planet, apparently purging all Phazon from the galaxy in the process.
Her mission complete, Samus departs in her ship. What she doesn't realise is that she's being followed by Sylux - one of the rival bounty hunters from Metroid Prime: Hunters. Nintendo really wants that forgettable DS game to have meant something.
While not a "proper" Metroid game by any means, this one does tie up some loose ends. The Galactic Federation are sent in to wipe out the last of the Space Pirates and rescue a kidnapped Samus, who has been mind-controlled. And supersized, for some reason.
While this nonsense is happening, Sylux manages to creep into a Federation facility and steal a Metroid egg. Why? That particular story thread has yet to be resolved. Nintendo really wants this forgettable 3DS game to have meant something.
The Galactic Federation have decided that, actually, the Metroid scourge is too dangerous to be left unchecked. Samus is dispatched to their home planet, SR388, to wipe every last one out.
Samus makes her way down through the caverns of SR388 where she gets a visceral lesson on the Metroid life cycle. It turns out that the jellyfish-looking Metroid we're used to are pretty damn cute compared to some of the horrors they can eventually grow into.
Before long, Samus has wiped out nearly every Metroid on SR388 - including the terrifying Queen Metroid. But just as Samus is about to pat herself on the back for a genocide well done, a baby Metroid hatches from an egg and mistakes the bounty hunter for its mum. Samus decides she can't possibly kill it now, and instead takes it back to her ship where the pair are attacked yet again by Ridley.
Samus fends Ridley off and manages to escape with the baby Metroid, intending to deliver it to a nearby Federation research station so it can be poked and prodded by scientists. Mum of the year right there.
Meanwhile, back on the surface of SR388, the X Parasite is once again starting to thrive in the absence of any Metroid...
Literally minutes after Samus dropped the Metroid off with the Federation, it's stolen by Ridley.
Our beleaguered bounty hunter is forced to pursue the Space Pirate leader back to Zebes where it appears the Pirates, clearly nostalgic softies at heart, have rebuilt Mother Brain and restarted the Metroid breeding program just as it was in the original Metroid.
What else can Samus do? She tears Ridley a new one, destroys the Metroid labs again, and has a rematch with Mother Brain. The baby Metroid, who has somehow grown huge while under Pirate captivity, sacrifices itself to save Samus and destroy Mother Brain once and for all. Samus just barely escapes Zebes as the entire planet blows very much up.
Other M finally addresses the fact that the Galactic Federation aren't just a bit useless, but actively shady. Around six months after Super Metroid, Samus is sent to investigate a Federation base, where it turns out scientists have been attempting to create Metroid clones from the DNA of the dead baby Metroid left on Samus' suit at the end of her last adventure. Yikes.
Oh, they're also trying to clone Space Pirates to create some sort of team of super soldiers, including a clone of Ridley. At least it's not the same Ridley this time, right? The Federation naturally loses control of the entire facility, and immediately cries for Samus to come clean it up.
Samus works with a team of Federation soldiers, including her old Commanding Officer Adam Malkovich, to put an end to this station's unsavoury experiments. Sadly, Malkovich kicks the bucket while destroying the Metroid cloning facility, robbing Samus of yet another father figure.
Metroid Fusion begins with Samus escorting Federation scientists on a research mission on the surface of SR388 to understand how the planet has changed in lieu of any Metroid. It has not gotten better.
Almost immediately, Samus is attacked by an X Parasite. On the brink of death, her suit is infected and the X is slowly tearing apart her central nervous system. As a last-ditch resort to save her life, Federation doctors are able to create a vaccine that infuses Samus with the last remaining Metroid DNA taken from the baby Metroid. It works!
The upshot of this vaccine is that Samus now shares all the same strengths - and weaknesses - as a Metroid. She's unusually susceptible to low temperatures now, for example, but is also able to absorb X Parasites. Swings and roundabouts, eh?
Unfortunately, but somewhat predictably, the X have managed to infiltrate the research station floating above the surface of SR388. Recognising the considerable threat the X pose, Samus is sent to the station to clear out the X and rescue any survivors. Here, she bumps into a terrifying new foe called the SA-X, an X Parasite mimicking Samus at the height of her abilities that hunts our hero with a relentless fervor.
With the help of her new onboard computer, which she's named Adam after her old CO, Samus discovers yet another secret Metroid cloning facility on the station. Worse still, she learns the Federation are also interested in keeping the SA-X alive in an attempt to weaponize it. It's basically Samus with no pesky moral compass, after all.
Samus finally decides to take matters in her own hands. Disobeying the Federation's direct orders, Samus sets the research station on a collision course with SR388, wiping out the entire planet and taking out every last X Parasite in the process. Or so we're led to believe.
Following the events of Metroid Fusion, the Federation receives a video transmission that indicates the X is still alive. They send a team of seven EMMI robots to planet ZDR to investigate the source of the transmission. The Federation swiftly loses track of these robots.
Samus is obviously sent in after the EMMI to find out why they've gone offline, and is soon confronted by a mysterious Chozo wearing Power Armour. After a brief brawl, Samus is soon defeated by her new rival and left deep under the surface of ZDR with no path back to the surface and a new mystery to solve.
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo
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