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Metroid is a futuristic action game series that takes place in outer space. It originally consisted of a series of 2-D platformers. Later in its life, a series of 3-D first-person shooters with platforming elements known as the Metroid Prime subseries were made until the series went dormant for a time. The games follow the adventures of bounty hunter Samus Aran.
Metroid was produced by Gunpei Yokoi, but was largely the brainchild of the director Yoshio Sakamoto and scenario writer for the first three games, Makoto Kanoh . The first game did poorly in Japan, but became quite popular in America.
The Metroid series was notable for doing two things in its first installment. It was one of the first games to have a password system for resuming gameplay. It also introduced Samus Aran, one of the first major female video game protagonists. However, that was only revealed if the player beat the game fast enough to unlock an ending wherein Samus revealed what she looked like without her armor.
The second installment was released on the Game Boy five years later. Metroid II: Return of Samus expanded on the first game, despite its limited platform. The story had Samus traveling to SR388 to exterminate all the Metroids. In the game, her gunship was introduced, the Metroids received multiple stages of life, and Samus's arsenal was greatly expanded.
In 1994, Super Metroid was released for the Super NES. This game expanded upon the previously explored world of Zebes and the Space Pirates while adding a variety of new abilities and gameplay features that would become staples of the series. The game was tremendously popular and acclaimed as one of the greatest games of the generation.
After this, the Metroid series went quiet for six years. No game was released for the Nintendo 64, but in 2000 it was announced that the fledgling developing company, Retro Studios, would be developing the next Metroid game on the Nintendo Gamecube. A 2D Metroid game for the Game Boy Advance was also announced. In 2002, Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion were both released. Whereas Fusion was a continuation of Super Metroid and featured similar gameplay, Prime took place between the first two Metroid games and acted as the first 3D game in the series while also bringing a new gameplay style with a first person perspective into play.
The Prime subseries continued with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes in 2004, and in the same year Metroid Zero Mission was made for the Game Boy Advance as an expanded remake of the original Metroid that added gameplay elements from the later games. Two Prime spinoff games were made outside of Retro, Metroid Prime Pinball and Metroid Prime Hunters on the Nintendo DS, the latter adding new bounty hunters and multiplayer options for the first time in the series. In 2007, the main Prime trilogy was concluded with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Nintendo Wii. All three games were rereleased in 2009 as Metroid Prime Trilogy, with the first two games being modified with Wii motion controls, although this compilation was suddenly pulled from shelves in 2010.
Nintendo later collaborated with Team Ninja on Metroid: Other M, a title for the Wii that was released in 2010. This game tried to combine elements of 2-D and 3-D gameplay, and it featured a story with full voice-acting which attempted to be deeper than previous entries in the series. The game received mixed critical reception, and its sales were ultimately considered disappointing by Nintendo.
The series entered a long hiatus after Other M. A spin-off called Metroid Prime: Federation Force was releases for the Nintendo 3DS 2016. This game featured Federation soldiers animated in an SD style as the main characters and allowed for cooperative multiplayer. This game did not perform well in either a critical or financial sense.
The next games bring Samus back into control of the series. In 2017, Metroid II was remade for the 3DS as Metroid: Samus Returns, and a continuation of the Metroid Prime series was announced for the Nintendo Switch.