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How to play the Metroid games in timeline order

The timeline is more confusing than the plot of Other M.

Metroid secretly has one of the more confusing timelines in video games, with the confusion stemming from the fact that the Metroid games weren’t released chronologically. Trying to navigate the Metroid series timeline is almost as difficult as navigating Zebes with no missiles. Fortunately, we’re here to provide you with the definitive order of the Metroid series timeline.

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Related: Every Metroid game, in release order

The Metroid series in chronological order

Metroid/Zero Mission

Image via Den of Geek

Luckily the first Metroid game is also the first game chronologically. The original Metroid on the NES details Samus’ initial quest to the planet Zebes to stop the Space Pirates from using the parasitic organisms known as Metroids to conquer the galaxy. The first Metroid introduced all the major concepts within the franchise and introduced major characters in the franchise, like Samus, Ridley, and Mother Brain.

The manga adaptation of the original Metroid covers Samus’ backstory, revealing that she was a lone survivor of a Space Pirates attack on her colony, led by the dragon-like alien Ridley. Metroid Zero Mission is a remake of the original Metroid on the GameBoy Advance and incorporates new story content past the initial endpoint of Metroid.

Metroid Prime

Screenshot by Gamepur

Metroid Prime was released after Metroid II and Super Metroid, but because Super ends with the apparent destruction of the last Metroid, the entire Prime series takes place before Metroid II. The story of the first Prime game is about Samus chasing the Space Pirates and Ridley to the mysterious Tallon IV, where strange experiments happen. She discovers a mutagenic substance called Phazon and comes across the dangerous Metroid Prime creature.

Metroid Prime Hunters

Samus on the Metroid Prime Hunters cover art
Image Via Nintendo

Metroid Prime Hunters is a spin-off title of the main Prime series and was released on the original Nintendo DS. In Hunters, Samus races against six other bounty hunters to investigate a telepathic message on several planets. Hunters introduced several new bounty hunters to the series, most notably Sylux, and was the first game to establish online multiplayer.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

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Metroid Prime 2: Echoes continues where the first Prime game left off, with Samus now traveling on a new mysterious planet called Arther. On Aether, there’s a mirror version of the planet called Dark Aether, where Samus faces off horrible, shape-shifting creatures called the Ing. She also finds more Phazon energy, enemy Space Pirates, and her enigmatic clone called Dark Samus.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

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Metroid Prime 3: Corruption ends the original Prime trilogy, with Samus facing off against her evil double, Dark Samus, one last time. Phazon corruption has been spreading across several planets, and Samus is infected with a Phazon disease. She must face off against her evil doppelgänger, the Space Pirates, Ridley, and other corrupted bounty hunters to end the threat of Metroid Prime once and for all.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force

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The Galactic Federation Force is lead the military organization within the Metroid universe, often observing other planets and securing the universe’s safety. Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a multiplayer, first-person shooter game that stars the members of the Federation rather than Samus herself. The title takes place after Samus eradicated the Phazon mutagen from the galaxy.

Metroid II: Return of Samus/Samus Returns

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The Federation decided to end the threat of Metroids by sending the bounty hunter Samus Aran to the Metroid’s home planet, SR388, and eradicating the entire species. Metroid II: Return of Samus covers Samus’s adventure on SR388 and her attempts to locate all the Metroids on the planet. The Samus Returns remake for the 3DS adds more story elements, including video logs covering the Metroid’s creation and an end boss fight with Ridley.

Super Metroid

Image via Wikitroid

Super Metroid continues exactly where Metroid II leaves off, with Samus sparing an infant Metroid and taking it to the Federation for safekeeping. The last Metroid is quickly kidnapped by Ridley and the Space Pirates, forcing Samus to chase after them to save the Metroid and protect the galaxy.

Metroid: Other M

Samus in Metroid Other M
Image Via Nintendo

Metroid: Other M follows the events of Super Metroid, with the shadow of the infant Metroid’s death looming large over Samus’s mind. The Galactic Federation sends Samus to investigate a space station. On the station, she meets her former commanding officer, Adam Malkovich, and a strange little creature that evolves into a reborn Ridley. There’s also a mysterious scientist on the station, who has her own agenda.

Metroid Fusion

Image via naswinger on YouTube

Metroid Fusion continues where Super Metroid left off but takes place after Other M. Samus contracts a parasitic organism known as X, transforming her into an alien and human fusion. Metroids were the only organisms capable of subduing X, yet with no Metroids left, X can now flourish and spread its infection across the galaxy. X starts spreading in a Federation space station, and Samus is the only one who can stop the infestation.

Metroid Dread

Screenshot by Gamepur

Metroid Dread is a spiritual successor to Super Metroid, and the story continues where Samus Returns and Metroid Fusion left off. Samus is sent to the planet called ZDR to investigate the reappearance of the X parasite. On ZDR, she encounters robots called EMMI, who were reprogrammed to view her as hostile and stalk her across the planet. She also encounters a malicious being known as Raven Beak, who is the same species of bird people that raised Samus after her parent’s death.

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Misael Duran
Freelance Writer who's been working with the Gamurs Group since 2019. I have over six years' worth of experience in Journalism and video game writing, having worked for sites like TheGamer, CBR, Pro Game Guides, and IGN.