The 10-Best Video-Game Franchises

Metroid's humble beginnings on the 8-bit NES were a hint of the excellent Samus adventures yet to come.

Metroid's humble beginnings on the 8-bit NES were a hint of the excellent Samus adventures yet to come.

4. Metroid
Developed by Nintendo

Ask any gamer to name their favorite Nintendo franchises and you'll probably hear Mario and Zelda listed first, and then Metroid listed as a third or fourth choice. Metroid isn't the fan favorite it is today because of cutesy trademark characters; it's the level design, bosses and perpetually challenging structure. Metroid's games are all about exploration, defeating bosses, and discovering new power-ups that aid your journey to the next level of the game. Gameplay follows a familiar pattern: explore until you reach a certain area where an enhancement is required before you could proceed. It also allowed the gamer to solve puzzles and defeat bosses using a variety of techniques and solutions-not just a single one.

Super Metroid: Considered by many to be the finest Metroid game to date.

Super Metroid: Considered by many to be the finest Metroid game to date.

You assumed the role of Samus, a female galaxy hopping bounty hunter, whose space suit has adaptable weapons. It also allowed to roll into a ball-an ideal ability for entering tight spaces-and drop bombs that acted as landmines. The 8-bit Metroid was successful enough, but the series truly hit its stride with Super Metroid for the SNES in 1994, a game that's regarded as one of the greatest games ever made. Using then-trendy Mode 7 effects, the brilliant level designs truly came to life (featuring all the trademark elements of the series), and proved to be an epic adventure with potent replay value. One can see Super Metroid's influence on other hallmark games-especially Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation), a title that's regarded by many as the finest in that series.

The 2D side-scrolling capabilities of the 8-bit, 16-bit, and handheld systems were perfect for Metroid's play structure, but when the GameCube appeared, it was announced that the next entry would be a first-person shooter in 3D. Although fans were concerned that the purity of the series would be lost by such a fundamental change to Metroid's core dynamic, Prime and its sequel (Echoes) defied the pessimists by delivering worthwhile adventures for the series. The Metroid tradition still continues today, with an action and (ahem) pinball game in the works for the DS, and a brand-new adventure planned for the Wii.--Major Mike

Metroid Prime took the 2D formula and made a first-person shooter. The results were better than expected.

Metroid Prime took the 2D formula and made a first-person shooter. The results were better than expected.

Key Entries in the Metroid Series

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