The next entry in the more-than-beloved Metroid franchise will arrive this week after a six year hiatus since the release of Metroid: Other M. Like Other M, Metroid Prime: Federation Force looks poised to steer the series even further from its eerie, isolated roots. But let’s reserve judgement, for now, and instead take advantage of the rare and exciting prospect of a new Metroid game by using it as an excuse to talk about an element of the franchise that we all love: power-ups.

Samus’ arsenal has been bolstered by amazing core abilities since the original entry in the series, and has been refined over the years with both incremental evolutions and dramatic reinventions of these powers.

Here are Nintendo Wire’s favorite Metroid power-ups from throughout the series’ history…

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Plasma Beam (by Ben Fruzzetti)

Samus comes across many weapons during her adventures, but few are effective in clearing out a room of enemies as much as the Plasma Beam. Cutting through enemies like speedrunners through Super Metroid, the Plasma Beam is one of the most powerful tools in Samus’s arsenal, able to cut down scores of enemies across the alien landscapes.

In her 2D escapades, the Plasma Beam blazes through multiple enemies at once, allowing one or two charged shots to clear out entire rooms. In her 3D missions, the Plasma Beam is instead very fast and extremely powerful, melting foes with red-hot flames. Not to mention, it has the coolest name of all of Samus’s beam weapons – who wouldn’t want a beam made of super hot lightning?


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Morph Ball (By Jason Ganos)

The Morph Ball, known originally as the “Maru Mari” or “Roll Up”, is one of the most iconic upgrades in the Metroid series, as well as one of the most essential. This amazing piece of Chozo engineering has the ability to cram Samus, a 6’3” woman, into a sphere that’s only 0.8 meters in diameter. That’s one impressive power-up! With the Morph Ball equipped, Samus can enter small spaces, activate switches, drop bombs, and escape enemy fire.

The Morph Ball can also be powered up into the Spider Ball, which allows Samus to roll up walls and upside down, an efficient form of travel for a busy Bounty Hunter.


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High Jump Boots

From the very early stages of any of Samus’ adventures, she’ll come across countless ledges and platforms that are just barely out of reach. These impasses foreshadow many more to come, from many-colored doors to super-heated rooms; but as soon as Samus dons the High Jump Boots for the first time, nothing else seems impossible.

This incredible footwear perfectly embodies the sense of empowered exploration that defines Metroid as a series, and helped it to spawn an entirely new genre of games that is still going strong today.


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Screw Attack

Very few of Samus’ power-ups feel as liberating and, frankly, overpowered as the Screw Attack. Barrelling endlessly through open air, virtually impervious to enemy attacks and ablaze with destructive energy blades, is utterly exhilarating.

So how does this superpower not completely break the game? Chalk it up to the brilliant map and challenge design that dictates the way Metroid games are crafted. The Screw Attack usually comes late in Samus’ adventures, and the proceeding areas and bosses somehow still manage to test her incredible arsenal.


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Ice Beam

The Ice Beam is the original utilitarian projectile weapon. Not only does it offer Samus some of her most creative offensive options, but it brilliantly doubles as a tool for maneuverability and exploration.

The epiphany that a huge vertical shaft filled with no obvious footholds can be scaled by freezing slowly drifting Rippers and jumping on their backs is one of the most satisfying moments in Metroid’s long history.

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Written by Brittin Shauers

Brittin literally grew up with Link, Mario and Samus. These three characters and their worlds collectively capture everything that he loves about video games.

Brittin Shauers