The Metroid Story – Part 4: Echoes of Aether

Metroid Prime 2 Echoes Title Screen

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.

With the recent release of Metroid: Samus Returns, 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.

Catch up on the first part of our chronological excavation of the Metroid series. Here we examined the canonical Metroid manga to learn exactly where our orange-suited heroine came from. Or take a look at the second part, where we continued her story with the original Metroid, and examined the epilogue of its remake, Zero Mission. On the third and most recent installment of our series, we dug into Metroid Prime – Samus’ first foray into the third dimension.

Here, we look into the narrative and lore present in Metroid Prime: Hunters for the DS and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes for the Game Cube. This will bridge us to the next installment, which will focus on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Metroid Prime: Federation Force.

Metroid Series Logo

Hunters Collide

Metroid Prime Hunters Box Art

Metroid Prime Hunters

Release: March 20, 2006 (NA)

Console: Nintendo DS

Director: Masamichi Abe

Producers: Kensuke Tanabe, Shigeki Yamashiro, Robert Champagne

Studio: Nintendo Software Technology

Publisher: Nintendo

The secret to ultimate power resides in the Alimbic Cluster.

This mysterious, telepathic message was enough to lure six of the most dangerous bounty hunters in the universe to the Alimbic Cluster. This Cluster exists in the Tetra Galaxy, outside the Galactic Federation’s jurisdiction. Because of this, the Federation once again enlists the aide of Samus Aran. Her mission: “Discover the truth about this mysterious message, to protect against a potential threat, and to keep the Alimbics’ ultimate power from falling into the wrong hands.

Though Samus leaves for her mission immediately, she is beaten to the punch by the hunters Sylux, Spire, Noxus, Kanden, Weavel, and Trace.

Knowledge of the Alimbics

Upon reaching the Celestial Archives, a space station created by the Alimbic race ages ago to store their knowledge, Samus learns of their tragic downfall. The race, somewhat similar to the Chozo, left behind spiritual messages for any sort of hero to hear their plea. Long ago, a comet crashed into the system containing Gorea – a being of pure evil. Gorea consumed the energy of every being and piece of technology used against it. It slowly took over each planet in the Alimbic System, and the remaining members of the Alimbic race decided it needed to be contained.

Celestial Archives Metroid Prime Hunters
They created the Seal Sphear, an advanced technology capable of constraining Gorea. In order to ensure he would never escape, the Almibics placed the Seal Sphere in the Oubliette, a ship made specifically for Gorea’s imprisionment. They used the Alimbic Cannon to launch the ship into the Infinity Void, an alternate dimension that is impossible to access withiout the cannon. Between the Cannon and Seal Sphear, the Almibics exhausted their psionic energy, and went extinct in the physical realm.

The only way for anyone to access the Alimbic Cannon and destroy Gorea once and for all was to gather eight Octolith crystals scattered across the Alimbic Cluster. The four regions in the cluster are the Celestial Archives, the molten Alinos, the Alimbic munitions center called the Vesper Defense Outpost, and the frozen Arcterra.

Hunting the Hunters

It soon becomes clear to Samus that Gorea sent the telepathic message to other bounty hunters in an attempt to trick them into freeing him from his prison in the Infinity Void. She’s forced to contend with their presence at every step of the process. However, they wield unique “affinity weapons” that prove useful to her mission.

Weavel, a cyborg that was nearly killed by Samus in a past encounter, harbors more hate for her than desire for the ultimate power. He weilds the Battlehammer, a mortar weapon capable of great destruction.Trace, a Kriken bounty hunter on a rite of passage, is searching for planets and galaxies for his race to take over. He weilds the Imperialist – a high powered sniper rifle.

Noxus, a Vhozon bounty hunter that wields the ice-infused Judiciator, doesn’t want the “ultimate power” for himself. Rather, he wishes to make sure hunters with misguided intentions don’t get their hands on it. Kanden, an Enoema  super soldier experiment, wields the electric Volt Driver. Being created only to destroy and gain power, he wishes to use the ultimate power for self gain. Spire, the last of the Diamont, seeks the ultimate power in hopes of discovering the rest of his race. He wields the Magmaul, which fires chunks of fiery magma.

Metroid Prime Hunters Hunters Metroid Story
From left to right: Weavel, Trace, Noxus, Samus, Kanden, Sylux, Spire

 

However, the most notable bounty hunter viying for the ultimate power is Sylux. Though very little is known about this hunter (including his race or origin,) he constantly attacks the Galactic Federation and, by extension, Samus. He wields the Shock Coil, which is capable of sapping his enemies of energy and returning it to himself. Samus acquires each of these affinity weapons as she collects the Octoliths. They are, ultimately, necessary to defeat Gorea.

Accessing the Oubliette

After gathering the Octoliths, Samus accesses the Alimbic Cannon and rips a hole in the fabric of space to access the Oubliette in the Infinity Void. She travels there, only to discover that Gorea has managed to defeat each of the hunters and absorb their abilities. She then takes down Gorea with these same abilities until he reveals his true form.

Gorea Metroid Prime Hunters Metroid Story
Gorea

Bonded to the Seal Sphere, Gorea now floats around a spiral room, teleporting and firing psionic blasts at Samus. Fortunately, in the same room, Samus acquires the Omega Cannon. This weapon is presumably the ultimate power Gorea referred to, and she uses it to destroy him absolutely.

A self-destruct sequence is initiated, and Samus (along with the other hunters) escape the Oubliette just in time. Three Alimbic spirits come to Samus in gratitude, and help transport her back to her hunter gunship. She flies away from the Alimbic cluster, without the Omega Cannon, but knowing the evil that is Gorea has been defeated.

So What’s The Point?

It’s true – Metroid Prime Hunters isn’t exactly integral to the overarching plot of the Metroid franchise. Though it takes place between Metroid Prime 1 and 2, it could concieveably stand anywhere in the Metroid chronology. What it accomplishes is establishing other bounty hunters within the universe, a profession that seemed nearly exclusive to Samus up to that point.

Perhaps most interesting is the inclusion of Sylux. Though he seems just as inconsequenital as the rest of the hunters, he appears in the special endings of both Metroid Prime 3 and Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Series Producer and Metroid Prime 4 Designer Kensuke Tanabe has spoken about how he wants to make a game that fleshes out the relationship between Samus and Sylux. If for no other reason, that might by why Metroid Prime Hunters will remain important in the series’ timeline.


Darkness Reigns

Metroid Prime 2: EchoesThe Metroid Story Metroid Prime 2 Echoes Box Art

Release: November 15, 2004 (NA)

Console: Nintendo GameCube

Director: Mark Pacini

Producers: Bryan Walker, Kenji Miki, Kensuke Tanabe

Studio: Retro Studios

Publisher: Nintendo

After an undisclosed period of time following Hunters, Samus receives a mission from the Galactic Federation. Contact with Squad Bravo, a relatively small unit of Federation soldiers, was lost eight days prior to Samus accepting the mission. Her goal is simple: to regain contact with Squad Bravo, and render any assistance necessary. Aether, a planet in the Dasha System, was their last known location. It sits on the outskirts of Galactic Federation territory.

As Samus approaches Aether, the planet’s harsh atmosphere interferes with her ship and she nearly crash lands. Her ship inoperable, Samus begins her investigation into the disappearance of Squad Bravo. She soon encounters fallen soldiers. Some bodies are strewn about, punctured by insect bites. Others are strung up from cave ceilings, with digestive juices working inside of them. Many of these corpses begin to reanimate and attack Samus. However, she makes short work of them using the weapons she had acquired over her previous missions.

Metroid Story Metroid Prime 2 Echoes Dark Samus

Samus quickly encounters her dark doppelgänger for the first time. Unbeknownst to her, this being (referred to as “Dark Samus”) is the Metroid Prime that emerged from Talon IV’s Leviathan and stole her Phazon suit. Metroid Prime’s DNA combined with Samus’, and it now has access to many of her old abilities. Dark Samus enters a dimensional anomaly, and Samus follows.

Darkness of the Ing

Transported to a dark version of the cave she was just in, Samus watches Dark Samus absorb phazon lining the cave walls. As she appraoches Dark Samus, a horde of dark creatures with long, hook-like legs close in on her. The atmosphere of this dark world poisons Samus, and the creatures mob onto her. With no other choice, Samus throws herself back through the anomaly, and returns to the regular Aether once more.

Metroid Story Metroid Prime 2 Echoes Ing
Samus discovers that these creatures stole many of her abilities, including her grappling hook, space jump boots, and more. With the anomaly gone, Samus continues her investigation. She soon finds the ruined Squad Bravo ship, the G.F.S. Tyr, along with several dead soldiers. No one from Squad Bravo survived.

After reading and viewing the final logs of the fallen soldiers, Samus learns that they landed on Aether while following a damaged Space Pirate ship to Aether’s surface. The planet’s atmosphere, rife with heavy magnetic activity and intense weather, wouldn’t allow them to leave Aether or resume transmissions with the Galactic Federation. Squad Bravo split up into two teams – one to repair their ship, and one to set up an operations base. Though they were attacked by the same dark creatures that attacked Samus, they were also attacked by fellow soldiers. Final soldier logs noted that some had become possessed by darkness, turning them into mindless killers.

Light of the Luminoth

Samus makes her way to the Great Temple, situated high above Aether’s surface. Here, she encounters U-Mos, the last conscious Luminoth left on Aether. The Luminoth, an ancient race that settled on Aether many ages ago, are both spiritual and technologically gifted – much like the Chozo. They were attracted to the “light of Aether,” a powerful energy source that fed their race for centuries.

Metroid Story Metroid Prime 2 Echoes U Mos
About five decades prior to Samus’ arrival, Aether was struck by a cosmic object. In reality, this was a Leviathan much like the one that devastated Tallon IV around the same time. However, because of Aether’s unique planetary energy, this Leviathan ripped time and space asunder, creating a Dark Aether that existed in an alternate dimension. The Leviathan and the phazon within it struck Dark Aether instead of the original planet, but total devastation followed soon enough.

The Leviathan also brought with it a species the Luminoth referred to as the Ing – meaning “terror” in their language. The Ing are the creatures that stole Samus’ abilities and decimated Squad Bravo. Aether’s planetary energy had become divided between light and dark, and thus both versions of the planet had become unstable. As the Luminoth were fighting a losing battle, they created the Energy Controllers. These machines helped contain the light of Aether, but only one of four still held its energy, as the rest had been stollen by the Ing and taken to Dark Aether. If one version of the planet lost all of this energy, it would collapse and disappear from existence entirely.

Phazon, Pirates, and Peril

U-Mos implores Samus to travel to Dark Aether and retrieve this stollen energy before Aether collapses. To do so, she must reach the dark versions of the Luminoth temples in the Agon Wastes, Torvus Bog, and Sanctuary Fortress. But to access these temples, Samus must retrieve three Dark Temple Keys in the Dark Aether versions of each region.

Samus first tackles the Agon Wastes, a barren landscape burnt by the near-impact of the Leviathan. Here she encounters the Bomb Guardian and Jump Guardian. These powerful Ing are the ones that stole Samus’ weapons, and have thus mutated and adapted alongside each ability. The Bomb Guardian is an Alpha Sandigger (native to the light version of the Agon Wastes) that has been possessed by the Ing who stole Samus’ bomb ability. After defeating each guardian, Samus regains her various abilities.

The Agon Wastes are also where the Space Pirates set up their operation. Upon discovering high quantities of phazon on Aether (particularly Dark Aether) the Space Pirates landed on the planet and continued their research from Tallon IV. They brought with them a small batch of Metroid, many of which were birthed on Tallon IV. The Pirates discovered how to create inter-dimensional rifts from similar Luminoth technology, and brought the parasitic creatures to Dark Aether. There they ran brutal experiments, which include keeping the Metroid awake for days on end by electrocuting them when they tried to sleep, and sometimes feeding weak Space Pirates to them for sustenance.

Dark Samus, a Metroid herself, began to infiltrate the Space Pirate facilities and freed many of her kind from captivity. She also systematically absorbed as much Phazon as she could get her hands on. The Space Pirates thought Dark Samus to be the original, but Samus soon finds and battles Dark Samus for the first time. After this incident, the Space Pirates begin to work alongside Dark Samus, helping her gain power and take down the warrior that destroyed their operation on Tallon IV.

Dark to Light

As Samus returned the energy from Dark Agon to the original Aether, she acquires two new weapons – the light and dark beams. The light beams are especially effective against the Ing, and the dark beam strong against creatures that live on the original Aether. Using these beams, Samus can open up dimensional rifts and travel between Aether and Dark Aether at will.

Samus continues her way to the Torvus Bog, a poisonous, water-logged region of Aether, and returns its energy to the light. Then she makes her way to the Sanctuary Fortress – a high tech facility high in the mountains created by the Luminoth. Here, they invented various robotic guardians to fight off the Ing. However, the Ing soon learned how to possess these machines, and turned them against the Luminoth. Samus fights her way through the fortress, returning the third round of energy to Aether.

Metroid Story Metroid Prime 2 Quadraxis
Quadraxis, the final guardian of the Dark Sanctuary Fortress

After gathering this energy, U-Mos informs Samus that the last of the light is held in the Sky Temple – a floating fortress in Dark Aether that resides inside Aether’s Leviathan. To enter, Samus must track down nine Sky Temple Keys across Dark Aether. These keys were each carried by great Luminoth warriors, and remain at the sites of their deaths. Samus is given the Light Suit, which carries the light of Aether within it and allows Samus to travel across beams of light. Once she acquires all nine keys, Samus teleports into the Sky temple.

Echoes From the Past

Samus enters the sky temple and takes on the Emperor Ing. Leader of the evil species, Emperor Ing looks like a much larger version of typical Hunter Ing. It attacks Samus relentlessly, knowing that if she takes back the light of Aether, Dark Aether will cease to exist. Covered in Phazon, Samus fights her way around the Sky Temple and gets the best of Emperor Ing. She absorbs the last of Aether’s light, and the world begins to collapse.

With only eight minutes to escape, Samus makes her way back to the only dimensional rift left in Dark Aether. Just before she gets away, Dark Samus stops Samus in her tracks. The two fight one more time, but Dark Samus has grown in power since they last met. She can float around the battlefield and become invisible to human sight. She’s also become grossly deformed. As a side effect of her immense Phazon absorption, Dark Samus appears like an eerie skeleton.

Metroid Story Metroid Prime 2 Dark Samus Final Battle

Dark Samus attacks Samus with Phazon blasts relentlessly. Samus, however, discovers she can absorb the Phazon with her charge beam, and turn the attack back on Dark Samus. Before long, Samus is victorious, and Dark Samus bursts into thousands of bits of Phazon. With seconds left before Dark Aether collapses, Samus rushes through the dimensional portal.

A Hero’s Goodbye

Samus returns the last of Aether’s Light to the Luminoth, the last of which have been awakened from their stasis. They bow to Samus as she departs for her ship. She did, after all, save their race, planet, and erase the Ing from existence. She casually waves goodbye on her way off the planet.

As Samus takes off from Aether on her hunter’s ship, an anomaly occurs just outside of Aether’s atmosphere. Floating particles of Phazon seem to congregate into a single shape, which curiously resembles Dark Samus. Samus is none the wiser as she goes on to her next mission.

Metroid Story Metroid Prime 2 Secret Ending
Dark Samus will return again.

 


Next Time on The Metroid Story

The fifth installment of the Metroid Story picks up soon after Echoes. We’ll dig into the narratives of the wonderful Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and the decidedly less wonderful Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Though Corruption clearly advances Samus’ story like no other entry in the franchise, Federation Force also does its fair share of narrative lifting. There’s still story left to tell for the Prime sub-series.

For all your video game news, reviews, and more, keep an eye on The Game Fanatics.

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