Loneliness. Despair. Survival. From the ruins of planet Zebes to the unfriendly wilderness of SR388, these terms permeate Samus Aran’s adventures through the cosmos. Between battling Space Pirates and eradicating the treacherous Metroid from existence, Samus’ journey to becoming the ultimate warrior has been fraught with peril. Join us as we examine her story from the very beginning – far before her Zero Mission.
With the release of Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS less than a month away, and Metroid Prime 4 on the distant horizon, The Game Fanatics have decided to dig deep into the narrative of the Metroid series. With a little research and a lot of gaming, we’ve discovered a rich backstory filled with mystery and lore. And if you’re interested in reading about the Metroid series’ unique and tumultuous release history, look no further.
Join us in the first part of our chronological excavation of the Metroid series, where we examine the canonical Metroid manga to learn exactly where our orange-suited heroine came from, and the events that lead straight to the original Metroid on the NES.
The Birth of a Warrior
Metroid – Volume 1
Release: November 2003 – May 2004 (Japan)
Writer: Kouji Tazawa
Artist: Kenji Ishikawa
Publisher: Magazine Z
Samus Aran was born to Chief Rodney and Virginia Aran on the human colony K-2L. Her parents mined afloraltite for the Galactic Federation – a crystalline substance used as fuel for intergalactic space travel. Necessary for the survival of the caravan of ships connecting planets within the Milky Way galaxy, the fuel source was sought after by both good and evil forces.
When Samus is 3 years old, the Chozo visit K-2L. The Chozo, an ancient race of bird-like humanoids, come in need of afloraltite. Though they come in peace, they refuse to divulge to the humans why they need the fuel. Without a proper reason for exchanging the substance, Chief Rodney Aran denies the Chozo access to afloraltite. Though this denial isn’t ideal for the Chozo, one of the elders of the race (colloquially referred to as Old Bird) befriends the young Samus.
Attack on K-2L
Following the failed negotiations, the Chozo leave K-2L and discuss how they are going to awaken the “Metroid” without afloraltite. The Metroid, an alien species created by an ancient race predating the Chozo, were the only known predators of the mysterious X Parasite.
Meanwhile, the Space Pirate General Ridley – an intelligent, bipedal, dragon-like creature – observes the Chozo leaving K-2L. Curious as to why the ancient race visited the colony, the Space Pirates notice a large energy surge from the planet and realize the humans are mining afloraltite.
The Space Pirates initiate an attack on K-2L. Samus, playing in the nearby forests, avoids the initial onslaught. Upon returning to the burning remains of the space colony, Samus first encounters her lifelong nemesis.
Though the innocent Samus initially attempts to befriend Ridley, he attacks her without hesitation. Samus’ mother Virginia intercedes and sacrifices her life so her daughter can run away.
Meanwhile, Chief Rodney sneaks onto the Space Pirate’s cargo ship filled with stolen afloraltite. Caught by the pirates, knowing his escape would be impossible, Rodney sacrifices himself and ignites the volatile afloraltite with his welding laser. The ensuing explosion wipes out the entire fleet of Space Pirates – with the exception of Ridley.
Ridley, seconds away from murdering the young Samus, sees the destruction of his ships and abandons his victim. The Chozo return to K-2L after intercepting the human’s distress beacon sent to the Federation Police. The only remaining human is Samus, desperately searching for her parents.
More Than Human
Unwilling to leave the child to die on K-2L, Old Bird defies his fellow elders and brings Samus to Zebes. Mother Brain, the computer interface that oversees Zebes and the Chozo race, determines that Samus will be unable to survive the harsh alien environment. The Chozo elder Gray Voice donates his DNA to be fused with Samus’. This act allows her to survive on Zebes as a now super-human being.
Into her teenage years, Samus trains in a Chozo Power Suit to hone her abilities. The Chozo, who generally act as pacifists in pursuit of galactic unity, recognize Samus’ warrior capabilities. Now part Chozo, Samus is a “protector of the galaxy,” and is beholden to stop Space Pirates from causing harm to others.
During her training, Samus consistently demonstrates a deep compassion for creatures unable to defend themselves. She also proves to be defiant towards authority figures, a trait that would both serve her and complicate her life into adulthood.
Old Bird reveals to Samus that Mother Brain takes care of both the “manual labor and meditation” of the Chozo race, and thus the Chozo are in decline. He decides to set Samus on her own path separate from the Chozo. And, one day, hopes that she might become the true “protector of the galaxy.”
Becoming the Ultimate Warrior
Of her own volition, Samus decides to join the Federation Police, but her past quickly catches up with her. At one point, Samus partakes in a reconnaissance mission of a Space Pirate base and witnesses the enslavement of the local population in order to build this base. Seeing the mistreatment of children, Samus dons her Chozo Power Suit and takes it upon herself to eliminate the Pirates. Though she nearly executes the final Pirate, her fellow officers convince her to spare his life and arrest him instead.
Meanwhile, Old Bird and the Chozo have hit a wall in dealing with the Galactic Federation. The Federation is growing more aggressive with each passing moment, and Samus’ victory at the Space Pirate base has buoyed their insistence on military action. However, the Chozo are more worried about the threat of the X Parasite on planet SR388. The X Parasite is capable of taking over sentient lifeforms and stealing their memories, appearance, and abilities in the process, creating an evil, combative copy as a result.
The Chozo decide to move forward with their plan: awakening an ancient species that the Chozo deem the “Metroid,” or “Ultimate Warrior” in their language. They are the only species known to be capable of destroying the X Parasite. However, Old Bird and the rest of the Chozo decide to keep the existence of both Metroid and X Parasites a secret, as they fear many species would try to use them to their advantage.
Return to Zebes
Soon after the Chozo awaken the first Metroid, the Space Pirates initiate a full scale attack on Zebes. Upon hearing the news, Samus abandons the Galactic Federation in order to return home. As she boards her ship to take off, she encounters Commander Adam Malkovich of the Federation Police. Instead of trying to stop her, he gives her 48 hours to search for Chozo survivors before the Galactic Federation sends their forces to decimate the planet and all Space Pirates on it.
Samus delves deep into Zebes. In the process, she finds the Chozo elder Gray Voice and an army of Space Pirates. Mother Brain has assumed control over the Space Pirates, as they are a subservient species willing to obey the command of “a strong master.”
Mother Brain intends to use the Space Pirates to bring order to the universe. Furthermore, she wishes for Samus to join her side as a commander of the Space Pirates. She claims to have helped create Samus as a Chozo-human hybrid. A perfect bio-weapon. An ultimate warrior.
Just as Samus attempts to break through Mother Brain’s reinforced Zebetite glass encasing, Ridley appears. With Mother Brain holding all the cards, and Samus’ fate uncertain, Volume 1 of the Metroid manga comes to an end.
A Heroine Rises
Metroid – Volume 2
Release: June 2004 – December 2004 (Japan)
Writer: Kouji Tazawa
Artist: Kenji Ishikawa
Publisher: Magazine Z
Upon seeing Ridley for the first time since he attacked K-2L, Samus suffers from a PTSD induced panic attack. She struggles so hard to breathe that she removes her Power Suit and gasps for air. Ridley, disgusted that this is supposed to be Mother Brain’s ultimate warrior, sends her to be imprisoned alongside the captured Chozo.
The Chozo consider Samus their daughter and attempt to talk her through her mental break down. It’s only when the Chozo are threatened by Space Pirates that Samus snaps back to her normal self and once again dons her Power Suit. She claims her duty is “protecting the protectors.”
Meanwhile, Grey Voice puts on ancient Chozo battle armor and attempts to destroy Mother Brain himself. Along with the rest of the Chozo, his intention since the invasion was to trick Mother Brain into thinking he was an ally, only so he could get close enough to take her down himself. As Grey Voice attempts to destroy Mother Brain, Ridley intercedes to stop him, overpowering Grey Voice and impaling him with his tail.
Meanwhile, Samus helps the Chozo escape on one of their ancient ships. Overpowered by Space Pirates, all hope seems lost when Grey Voice, in the throes of death, shoots down the enemies in her path from below. Unfortunately, just when it appears she is in the clear, the mother ship of the Space Pirates blocks their escape. The Galactic Federation comes, led by Adam Malkovich, and saves the Chozo ship, along with Samus. They destroy the mother ship, and abandon the ruinous planet Zebes
Becoming a Bounty Hunter
A few years pass, and Samus goes to Daiban, the Galactic Federation capitol, clad in a hat and trench coat. During an inauguration ceremony held for the newly elected Chairman Keaton, Samus stops an assassination attempt by the Space Pirates. Now a full blown Bounty Hunter, she playfully demands a large payment from General Adam Malkovich for her efforts.
Meanwhile Ridley, controlling a large Space Pirate army in an asteroid belt, now has control of countless Metroid. The Galactic Federation abandoned Zebes after Mother Brain’s repeated efforts to rebuke any outsiders. She twisted the life forms on Zebes into her ideal, and now they protect her chamber deep within the planet at all costs.
Embarking on her Zero Mission
After saving the Chairman, the Galactic Federation sets Samus aside for a top secret mission briefing. They had sent a search crew to Zebes, only to find that 80% of the planet was devoid of life. The entire crew was wiped out by an unknown species of alien that drained their life force. Samus immediately identified the species as the Metroid.
Knowing that beta radiation can cause the Metroid to multiply aggressively, she agrees to go on a covert mission to Zebes to eradicate the species and stop Mother Brain once and for all. As a one-woman team, the infamous Bounty Hunter journeys to Zebes, but the planet she once called home has been transformed into a dangerous wasteland.
Meanwhile, Ridley and his Space Pirates launch simultaneous attacks against multiple Galactic Federation encampments. A fleet led by Adam Malkovich engages with Ridley and gains the upper hand. Just as he closes in on the Pirate commander, Ridley makes a space jump away from the astroid field and returns to Zebes. He aims to destroy Samus once and for all and protect Mother Brain at all costs.
Next Time on The Metroid Story
On the second part of our look at the Metroid story, we’ll go back to the game that started it all. We’ll also look at Zero Mission, the remake of the original Metroid, and dig into what changes it made to the story, and at its fresh epilogue that details what led to our heroine’s adventures in Metroid Prime.
A special thanks to SnoopyCool.com for translating the original Metroid manga – a feat we never could have accomplished on our own. Also a special thanks to Nintendo for creating one of the greatest heroines in video game history. For all your video game news, reviews, and more, keep an eye on The Game Fanatics.