Editor’s note: Even though the story in the Metroid series is somewhat spare, Brandon makes some good points about the flaws in the logic behind its narrative — particularly the Prime installments. Check out his humorous rundown of the problems with Phazon and Ridley’s master plan. -James
The Metroid Prime Trilogy is the Citizen Kane of gaming. We all
know it, and because of this, we’ve all played it…all of us. I
neither know of, nor care to hear about, any exceptions to this
Metroid Prime is one of the few things that binds us together as a
species. It keeps us from going completely feral and killing one
another. It’s a shared experience that leads to a cross-cultural
fellowship. If a baby cries during a movie or throws up all over the
place — which I actually saw happen once — I forgive him because I
know that he will one day play the Metroid Prime Trilogy.
That being said, I do have a few problems with Metroid’s otherwise
deep and involving mythos. Let’s take a look.
First on the list: Phazon.
Look, I’m aware that Phazon is pretty poorly defined in the
series. It’s basically just an excuse to fight a bunch of weird
mutants. But come on! I can only overlook so much.
See, Phazon composes the game’s main atagonist, Metroid Prime, and its reborn form, Dark
Samus. Absorbing the substance is what powers the monster, and because of this,
Prime is constantly hunting it. So what is the big baddie’s one
How does that make any kind of sense!?
It doesn’t. Does Samus somehow overload Prime with Phazon? Is that
possible? It’s not like it isn’t gobbling the stuff up at every
possible opportunity. Metroid Prime is positively cuckoo for Phazon.
It is, at all times and under all circumstances, absolutely jonesing
for the stuff.
It shouldn’t make a difference if Samus is launching the substance at Prime
through an arm cannon or not. Having our heroine shoot Prime with Phazon is
analogous to her delivering a pizza to us earthlings. Prime shouldn’t
be dying. It should be tipping Samus less than she deserves while not
looking her in the eye.
I asked a friend about it, and he offered, “Would you like it
if someone shot blood at you?”
OK. Sure, I wouldn’t like it, but it wouldn’t kill me. Unless….
At this point you’re likely coming to the same conclusion I did.
Within the framework of the story, no other solution is readily
Samus has Space AIDS — also known as SAIDS. It fits….or it
almost does. Close enough. Samus doesn’t seem particularly sick or
weak. Maybe she’s just a carrier who suffers no ill effects — you
know, like an intergalactic Typhoid Mary type of deal.
I don’t know. Whatever.
It’s not like this is the first time the series has had
questionable writing. Check out the manga (which is apparently
canonical and can be read here) that serves as the backdrop for the
first game. It’s mostly about Samus’ childhood.
The story takes place on planet Zebes during its inhabitatance by the
Chozo, and it shows their eventual fall at the hands of the Space
Pirates. Just what you would expect. But the way it happens is so
ridiculous and wonderful that it catapults Ridley into godhood.
Put yourself in this position: You need to conquer a world full of
super-advanced bird creatures. As a hobby, they create power suits
and scatter missile upgrades for them to every planet in the known galaxy just
for the hell of it. What do you do?
Look at all dat juice!
Well, if you’re Ridley, you give tiny guns to the planet’s
indigenous butterfly creatures….
That’s right, Ridley designed and built thousands of tiny
butterfly-sized guns, handed them out, and hoped for the best.
You can kind of see why the Space Pirates keep rebuilding the guy;
he’s funny as hell to have around. When I’m playing the Prime games, I like to picture him pitching
ideas to Space Pirate Command behind the scenes.
“Ha! That’s great, Ridley. Great idea. But no, we kind of
need to win this one. Why don’t you just go ahead and stick with
shooting fireballs and sweeping your tail around, OK champ? Go get
her, you crazy SOB. God, I love that guy.”
And you know what the real tragedy is? More people seem to like
Crocomire than Ridley. All Crocomire ever did was melt in lava.
Like that’s even hard.
I guess that isn’t Metroid’s fault; it
certainly doesn’t have anything to do with the game’s writing. But
hey, I’m venting, and it feels good. I’m just going to go with
Of course, in the end, I tease. Metroid is responsible for one of the most comedic moments
of my life. It was around Christmas, and I was at the mall with my
parents, my aunt, and my cousin. We had just visited a man who I
thought at the time was Santa Claus. (He gave my cousin and me little
cups with his face on them which struck me as a bit egotistical at
While waiting in what I think was a Dillard’s —
smells like one in my memory – my cousin and I got bored. We put
our cups over our right hands, and we pretended to be the main
characters from the games we each hoped to receive on Christmas Day.
I had Metroid in mind, and I assumed my cousin did as well. Turns out he wanted Mega Man 2. Clearly, we were from different worlds, but running around that department store with plastic cups on our fists, we had
acted as kindred spirits.
It was a lot like Romeo and Juliet, but with two dudes who are relatives and no romance. That’s not a weird comparison to make at all. Anyway, it’s a great memory that never seems to amuse other people when I retell it.
Oh well. Despite its flimsy story, I think the Metroid series is just aces.