This may seem like another average Sunday to you, but for Nintendo-philes everywhere, it's a day to celebrate. That's because today marks the 25th anniversary of the Metroid series, one that folks have come to respect well over the years with a number of fine entries, ranging from the classic NES game all the way to the current Wii releases...and yes, we'll give Metroid Other M a nod just for the sake of the license.
The series got its start in 1986 with the release of the original Metroid, a game that many consider to be at the forefront of classic action gaming back in its way. Having to track down your abilities and other special goods to defeat the Mother Brain were just part of the fun, along with finding hidden goodies and taking down seemingly impossible-to-defeat Metroids. (Just freeze and missile away.) Plus, the ending was a real barnstormer for back in the day -- it turned out the main hero was actually a woman named Samus Aran. (And if you use the classic "Justin Bailey" code, you'll be able to play as her through the start of her adventure.) This game was also faithfully recreated on the Game Boy Advance with Metroid: Zero Mission, which is worth checking out if you haven't gotten around to it yet.
After that, Samus' legacy lived on in the enjoyable Game Boy sequel Metroid II: Return of Samus, which featured just as much action as the NES game, but in a portable format. But the real sequel arrived in 1994, with the release of Super Metroid, a game many consider to be one of the best sequels ever made. In it, Samus returns to face an evil threat in the galaxy when the baby Metroid she's caring for is snatched. This one really bumped up the excitement with amazing boss fights, bigger levels, and one of the best ending sequences we've seen in a game to date. Real haevy on the drama. It's only $8 on the Virtual Console service if you don't have it yet. Worth every penny.
Things were pretty quiet for Samus over the next few years, though she did appear as a playable character in the classic Nintendo 64 brawler Super Smash Bros., a series she's continued to star in over the years. (She also has a Zero Mission suit version in Brawl.) But 2002 would be the true year to earmark Samus' comeback.
Nintendo took a big gamble with Metroid Prime, a GameCube game that would reintroduce Samus in a first-person format. Though the idea was sound, many gamers were worried that Retro Studios would somehow screw it up. But, to everyone's surprise, it turned out to be one of the most finely crafted FPS games to date, with plenty of terrific design and great gameplay to go around. The original's pretty easy to find, and the game is also included in the rare Metroid Prime Trilogy for Wii.
For that matter, Samus also returned to the portable scene in 2002 with Metroid Fusion, a game that featured an equally dark storyline and brilliant side-scrolling shooting fun. Both Fusion and Prime performed admirably, keeping interest in Samus around a lot longer than Nintendo ever could've expected.