For many of us, Metroid stood high among the titles that first ignited our passion for gaming. The adventures of the bounty hunter Samus Aran as she fought against space pirates and alien monstrosities will, for many of us, be etched permanently into our memory. To call the franchise iconic would be putting it lightly – like many of Nintendo’s titles from the early days of the industry, Metroid changed the face of gaming. To this day, open-world platformers are referred to as Metroidvania.
The Metroid Universe
Okay. You get it. Samus Aran was – and still is – kind of a big deal. She’s right up there with Mario, Link, Megaman, and Sonic.
What’s more, everybody knows the basics of her story. A galactic federation soldier-turned-bounty hunter, Samus was raised by the Chozo and infused with their DNA after a party of Space Pirates led by Ridley raided her home planet and slaughtered her family. Over the course of her life, she’s done battle with Metroids, deadly parasites, criminals, other bounty hunters, ancient AI, and even living planets. She has a penchant for completing missions that others deem impossible; this coupled with her incredible level of skill makes her one of the most feared warriors in the entire galaxy.
Most Metroid fans can recite the timeline of the games by rote. But do any of you know what came before? How did the galaxy get to this point? Why are the living planets so violent and vengeful? What’s the whole story behind the Metroid race? NeoGAF user Mama Robotnik set out a few days ago to answer all these questions, taking an in-depth look at one of the most oft-overlooked time periods in the series: The Age of the Chozo.
While Robotnik’s post contains a fair share of speculation (necessary in order to fill in multiple gaps in the timeline), he nevertheless manages to weave a rather rich and masterful tale, fraught with conflict, revenge, and apocalyptic visions. The story begins tens of thousands of years ago.
In this ancient era, the Chozo are the uncontested rulers of the galaxy. Their technology, intelligence, martial prowess, and prophetic capabilities ensured their dominance, while their reverence for life and nature saw them making first contact with a wide array of different races, including their long-time allies, the Luminoth. At a certain point, however the Chozo began seeing prophecies of a hostile, chaotic universe. Though they discovered the galaxy was peaceful, the visions nevertheless became more persistent and severe. Thus, as they explored, they became obsessed with finding the source of this chaos.
Eventually, they indirectly caused it, through their discovery of the planet Phaaze. This hostile, terrifying living world produced a wide array of positively devastating creatures which could destroy entire quadrants of the galaxy were they to escape the planet. Thus did the Chozo invade and violate the surface of the world, devastating it with the creation of the Metroid race. Phaaze, meanwhile, slowly seethed and raged. There was only one thought in its mind: revenge. So did it birth Metroid Prime, a creature which would eventually destroy the Chozo homeworlds. It imbued its seed with the creature, and sent it towards Tallon IV. Another, similar seed was sent towards the Luminoth homeworld of Aether.
The Chozo didn’t realize what they’d done. Thus, when they discovered SR388 to be infested with the vile X Parasite, they initiated the same plan as they had on Phaaze: invade and keep the population in check with the creation of Metroids. Here, they created the Metroid Queen, which would eventually come under SR388’s sway as it mutated her children. The Chozo, meanwhile, were wracked by guilt with what they had done; worse still, the chaotic and apocalyptic visions had yet to cease. The majority of them retreated to Tallon IV, reverting to an ascetic life of peace. They ignored the pleas of the prophets to flee the planet. Anyone who’s played Metroid Prime knows what came next.
Phaaze’s seed crashed into Tallon IV, completely destroying the new Chozo homeworld in a biblical rain of radiation and fire. In a matter of moments, both Chozo and Luminoth were an endangered species. As their final act, the prophets predicted that a hero would eventually arise to defeat Metroid Prime. The few remaining Chozo constructed a temple above the planet to contain the Phazon infection, and retreated to Zebes.
Some centuries later, the Space Pirates raided the human settlement of K-2L. The only survivor was a young girl by the name of Samus Aran. Unbeknownst to them, they had found their hero. The rest, as they say, is history.