This guest article was written by SG fan Magcargoman3.
Warning: While most of the content in this article is factual, there is some mild speculation.
The Metroid series has been around for a long time, even older than the likes of Pokémon and Kirby. But despite being one of Nintendo’s oldest long-running IPs, the franchise hasn’t been as much as a success in the sales department. The future of the series was uncertain after a nine year stint where the only new games release were the much-maligned Other M and highly-controversial Federation Force. However, tides began to change for the series when two new Metroid games were revealed at E3 2017, much to rejoicing of fans. And now with the series currently experiencing a comeback with Metroid: Samus Returns‘ release late last year as well as Metroid Prime 4 on the horizon, what better time than now to carry out an analysis on the series’ stages in Smash. Part 1 of this analysis will cover all the stages in the series, while Part 2 will focus on statistics, trivia and more.
Super Smash Bros.
As with all series present in the original Super Smash Bros. besides Mario, there is only one Metroid stage in the game.
Metroid‘s only stage in the original Super Smash Bros. is Planet Zebes from Metroid and Super Metroid. Unlike most of the other series in the game, Metroid never had a Nintendo 64 game, and so the most recent game to base a stage off was the SNES’ Super Metroid. This stage is set on the planet Zebes, where both Super and the original Metroid take place. What part exactly, is rather vague, as the area doesn’t resemble any of Zebes’ locales and appears to have space visible in the background. Set on some floating platforms in what appears to be a large vertical shaft, this stage’s prominent feature is the pit of acid at the bottom, which rises every now and then, engulfing parts of the stage and damaging fighters who come into contact with it. This is likely drawn from the Brinstar area of Zebes, which featured acid pits in several rooms (although these pits did not rise). A few visual elements from the games feature as parts of the stage; doors facing upwards stick out of the main platform, and the design of the three green floating platforms resemble the odd bubble-like structures that made up the walls of several rooms in Norfair in both of its appearances. Wavers and Samus’ arch-nemesis Ridley (both of whose sprites appear to resemble their ones from Super Metroid) can occasionally be seen flying past in the background. The theme that plays on the stage is a remix of the Brinstar theme from the first Metroid, which wasn’t present in Super at all.
With only three games under its belt at this point in the series, Metroid‘s only stage was able to cover a significant portion of the franchise. Unfortunately, despite this, the stage’s rather confusing visual design means what exact parts of the games it was based on is very ambiguous. The inclusion of visual elements from Super Metroid likely make the stage based on that game rather than the original Metroid, which also received acknowledgement through the stage’s song that originated from it. Fortunately for Metroid, the stages it received in the next game were more clear on what areas they were based on.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, the Metroid series received two new stages as was the case with most of the series present in the game. These two stages are much more clearer with what locations they are based on, and both hail from the same game.
The first of Metroid‘s two stages in Melee is Brinstar from Super Metroid. With no new games in the series since the first Smash game, choosing to focus on this game again made sense. This stage is another take on the concept of the previous game’s stage, being set in a cavern with a rising acid hazard. Unlike the last time, this stage takes place in a specific area of the planet, Brinstar, which is where Samus’ journey began in the original game. While acid was not present in Brinstar in Super Metroid, it prominently appeared throughout the area in the original Metroid, hence its presence here. A feature new to this take on the stage is the organic structures that hold the middle and two outer platforms of the stage together. If these are attacked enough, they will break, causing the stage to spread apart and the two platforms to tilt up respectively, and after a while they will regenerate and bring everything back together. The stage is decorated with many details like metallic domes and organic growths to give the stage a Metroid atmosphere, but it also has a few decorations that are specific references to the games. On the main platform there are stone blocks with angry faces carved into them, which were found in the starting area of Brinstar in the original game as well as in the old Brinstar portion in Super Metroid. There is also a Chozo statue as well, that sits in the pose they make in the games. Occasionally, the statue will come to life and walk around around for short amount of time, referencing both a helpful Chozo statue that carries Samus across spikes at one point in the Wrecked Ship as well as the hostile Torizo statues that are fought a couple of times, both of these statues being encountered in Super Metroid. As with last time, the song for this stage is a remix of the Brinstar theme from Metroid, however this time it also includes the Game Start fanfare and a low-key version of the Metroid Title Screen Theme afterwards.
The second Metroid stage is the unlockable Brinstar Depths from Super Metroid. This stage takes place in the deepest part of Brinstar, where Samus encounters the collosal Space Pirate, Kraid. This stage has a very unique gimmick where the entire stage rotates when the gigantic Kraid slashes it, radically changing the area the fighters can stand on. In the background, it can be seen that the walls are metallic, just like how the room Kraid was fought in during the original Metroid appeared to be made of metal. The area leading to Kraid in Super Metroid was also metallic, but his boss room was overgrown with vegetation instead. There is also a large lake of lava (or acid) below the blastline, as there were many lava/acid pits in Kraid’s area in the original Metroid. The music for this stage is a remix of the Kraid area theme from Metroid, which features a brief insert of the Item Room theme in the middle of it.
Thanks to the improved visuals and larger amount of content in the game, Metroid got much better representation this time around compared to the last time, this time having stages that weren’t so muddy on what they were supposed to be. Both of the two stages it received represented different areas of Super Metroid, as opposed to the last game’s stage being more ambiguous. The original Metroid was present too, having two of its songs remixed in the game as well as a few other small references in parts of the design of the stages. Since there had been no new Metroid games released between the release of Melee and the first Super Smash Bros. game, very little of the franchise was missed, with only Metroid II: Return of Samus not having any presence in the game. By the time of the next Super Smash Bros., the franchise had grown with several new games, allowing for an entirely new game to be represented.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the Metroid series was one of only five series to receive two brand new stages instead of only one, with even Sakurai’s own creation Kirby only getting one stage. With this privilege granted to it the stages in the game were able to cover not one but two different Metroid games, one of these two hailing from the franchise’s relatively new and critically-acclaimed sub-series.
Brawl‘s first Metroid series stage is Norfair, based on its incarnation from Super Metroid. Due to the release of Metroid: Zero Mission, the planet Zebes was again the setting of the most recent main-line Metroid game, and as Brinstar and its Kraid sub-area had already been covered in the previous game, this was the next appropriate area of Zebes to base a stage on. Taking place on a set of metal platforms above a boiling lake of lava, this stage features many hazards revolving around it. Like the acid pit of the Planet Zebes and Brinstar stages in past games, here the lava can rise and cover many of the platforms, launching any fighter who comes into contact with it. Lava spouts that spray above platforms and a slow-moving lava wall that can engulf half the stage also appear here, but the most dangerous of them all has to be the giant lava wave that occasionally shows up. When this rises up from the background, a small safe area will appear on one of the platforms. Standing inside of it will protect a fighter from the giant wave, after which it will disappear. The doors of the safe area have to be attacked to be opened, which is a reference to the doors in the Metroid series (which they resemble) having to be shot to be opened. In the distant background of the stage can be seen an environment that resembles that of the Metroid games, with a bunch of platforms, some doors and even a passageway to one side. While the rocky walls are mostly red, the passageway features some green bubble-like structures, which made up some of the rooms in Norfair in all of its appearances. Also present are some Chozo ruins, which showed up in the lower parts of Norfair in Super Metroid, as well as Norfair and Ridley’s area in Metroid: Zero Mission. An interesting part of these ruins are two columns that feature Chozo heads atop them as well as several arms on the sides, which only appeared once in Crateria in Zero Mission.
Thanks to the newly introduced My Music feature, many songs from the series were included. This stage has a selection of songs from both Metroid and Super Metroid, which include a new rock-based cover of the Brinstar theme from the first game (actually taken from Metroid Prime Pinball and modified to include vocals at the start and a retro sounding portion later on), an orchestral remix of Metroid‘s Ending theme, a techno remix of the Norfair theme from the first game, and lastly, a track titled Theme of Samus Aran, Space Warrior from Super Metroid. Oddly enough, this song is actually named after a different track in the game that played in Crateria, whereas the song in Smash is actually the Ending theme of the game instead.
The second Metroid stage in Brawl is Frigate Orpheon from Metroid Prime. The Prime series was a new and successful transition into 3D gaming for the Metroid series, and with three main games and two side-games of its own at the time, it was only right for it to receive a stage in Smash. Taking place inside the reactor core room of the space pirate frigate Orpheon, this was the first location Samus visited in Metroid Prime, and the room was the location of the game’s first boss, the Parasite Queen. The stage consists of several platforms that float above a dark abyss, with the Parasite Queen watching the battle from inside the reactor core in the background. This stage occasionally experiences blackouts that make the whole room go dark except for the glowing panels on the floor, but its main unique feature is the room flipping. When the sirens start blaring after a few seconds the entire screen will flip, causing fighters to fall to the new arrangement of platforms below them. Unlike the default layout, the main platform after the stage has flipped is symmetrical and its floating platform is centred rather than to the left side, and there are also two moving platforms on each side of the stage that move in and out from the blastlines. It’s worth noting that both the blackouts and the stage-flipping feature are entirely original to Smash and neither event occurred in the frigate in the original game.
This stage has a mix of songs from both the main-line games and the Prime series. First up is a metal remix of the Vs. Ridley theme from Super Metroid, a song that has stuck with Ridley since. Another notable song is the Opening/Menu from Metroid Prime, which consists of a very brief portion of the game’s Title theme with some opening vocal narration (based on a quote from the instruction manual of the game), which then is then interrupted with a faithful and very subtly different remix of the game’s Menu theme. Sector 1 from Metroid Fusion also got a remix that mixes both orchestral and techno elements. A few songs that were directly imported from Prime were included as well, these being the Parasite Queen and Meta Ridley battle themes. Lastly, ported in from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is the default Multiplayer theme.
Thanks to the massive revival of the Metroid series and the influx of games it got in the time between Melee and Brawl, there were plenty of new Metroid games to use for stage material and songs in this instalment of Smash. We returned to Super Metroid and the planet Zebes once again but this time visiting the previously absent Norfair area of the game, and even had a small nod to Zero Mission included in it. The newly-introduced Prime sub-series was also granted a stage from its first game, also marking the first Metroid stage to not be set on Planet Zebes. The Brinstar stage from Melee also made a return in this game. The new addition of the My Music feature also meant other games in the series could be represented. The original Metroid got several new remixes, and there were also songs included from Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime 2. Overall, this instalment gave the Metroid series arguably the best coverage it has ever had, with two new stages covering completely different games and almost every other game referenced in stages in some form. Another new Metroid game would become the focus of the series’ representation in the next Smash game.
Metroid: Zero Mission
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Metroid Prime Pinball
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U
The development of two versions of the fourth instalment in the Super Smash Bros. series lead to a lot of series only receiving a new stage in one version of the game. Despite its luck with getting two stages in the previous game, Metroid was one of these casualties. In the Nintendo 3DS version of the game, the only Metroid stage is Melee‘s Brinstar, a stage that had already returned in Brawl. This stage had no new songs either, so there is no new representation of any Metroid games through stages in the 3DS version. Instead, all new stage-based content is in the Wii U version of the game, mainly focused on a rather controversial title in the series.
The sole new Metroid stage found in the Smash 4 duo is Pyrosphere from Metroid: Other M. This was the latest game in the series at the time, so despite how controversial it was, it was the most suitable choice for a new stage. This stage takes place within the Geothermal Power Plant of the Pyrosphere area (Sector 3) of the Bottle Ship, a spaceship that belongs to the Galactic Federation, where Samus fought a clone of her nemesis, Ridley. And just like in that game, Ridley appears here prominently as a stage boss. Every now and then Ridley will fly up from the background and enter the fight, attacking players with a variety of attacks, which include fireballs, triple claw swipes, performing a dashing slash across the stage, roaring to push fighters back, swooping in from the background and stomping into the ground from above. Additionally, he can power himself up by grabbing the purple tanks at either side of the stage to become stronger and can perform a few new attacks, such as stabbing his tail through the bottom of the stage to attack fighters above, shooting a large fireball at the ground that creates a spreading shockwave, and spitting three fireballs at once. All of these attacks except for the regular and triple fireballs as well as the swooping, roar and stabbing through the stage are all attacks Ridley used in Other M. The ability to power up to become stronger was too, although he could power up on his own without the use of tanks in that game. Lastly, if Ridley receives enough damage from a fighter, he will become their ally and his attacks will not harm them. When Ridley receives enough damage, he will be KO’d, which will give the fighter who defeated him a point in Timed matches.
Ridley isn’t the only hazard of the Pyrosphere; several other enemies drop by occasionally as well. FG II-Graham turrets fly by on their own or in a pair that fly in from each side of the stage, and fire the Diffusion Beam when attacked (unlike in their own game where they are hostile without provocation). The flea-like Joulions can drop down and will explode shortly after, and attacking them will cause a more powerful explosion. Lastly, Zeros can fall onto the stage and crawl around harmlessly, but can be picked up by fighters and thrown as an attack. Both Joulions and Zeros are not encountered at all in the Pyrosphere in Other M, being found in other sectors instead. Several details of the power plant have been recreated in this game, like the flowing magma port, broken bridge and hole in the wall from Ridley’s escape after the fight (albeit moved slightly to the right), which are all present in the background. Oddly enough, the hole leads to a long corridor, whereas in Other M there was a large room right on the other side of it.
Most of this stage’s music are songs that were all on Frigate Orpheon in Brawl, but there are a few new ones. Two of these are from the original Metroid, the first of these being a remix of the Metroid Title theme, which begins with the Game Start fanfare. The second is a remix of the Escape theme which starts off with the original 8-bit theme before progressively becoming orchestrated, and also features a triumphant reprise of the original Brinstar theme. That’s all for new remixes, but there was a few direct ports included too, those being the Psycho Bits theme from Metroid Prime Hunters, as well as both Nemesis Ridley and the Lockdown Battle Theme (which played during miniboss encounters) from Metroid: Other M. Speaking of Other M, one more song from that game, The Burning Lava Fish (the theme of Vorash), was included in the returning Norfair stage. Outside of Metroid stages, there was also a portion of the original Metroid‘s Brinstar theme present in the Famicom Medley included in the Duck Hunt stage.
As opposed to the previous game in the series, Metroid‘s representation in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U was a lot less expansive, especially in the 3DS version. This can likely be attributed to a combination of the spread resources over two versions of the game being developed, the lack of new Metroid games after Brawl‘s release, and the lukewarm reception and sales of Metroid: Other M. As opposed to the last game, there was only one new stage this time around, focusing on Other M and for better or worse, its infamous Ridley encounter. But while the stage and its implementation of Ridley is rather faithful, very little of the Metroid franchise received representation through stages besides it. Only two new remixes were added, both from the original Metroid, and the only other song added that wasn’t from Other M was from Metroid Prime Hunters. Representation could gone a long way had there been a new stage added in the 3DS version, with potential for a stage focused on one of the handheld Metroid titles completely wasted. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, which came out a bit too soon before Brawl, was also barely represented in this game at all beyond the design of the Dark Samus assist trophy, with neither a stage nor a song present. Overall, Metroid‘s presentation through stages this game was quite lackluster compared to its content in Brawl, which covered a much wider portion of the franchise. But with the series’ recent comeback since last year, it’s likely the series will get a much wider range of representation in the next game in the series.
Metroid: Other M
Metroid Prime Hunters
This concludes Part 1 of the analysis on Metroid‘s stages in Super Smash Bros. Be sure to return for Part 2 which will feature stage statistics, trivia and predictions for future stages.