We wanted to create a new 2D Metroid with elements no one has seen before, so we were very keen for the series' traditions to evolve, while scratching that Metroid itch the fans have. Take the basic controls for example. Just like in the rest of the series, it'll be possible to make some very precise movements as shown here. Like usual, you can fire shots in the direction you're facing, but by standing still and holding the L Button you can aim and fire in a 360° arc. Until now you could only fire in eight directions, but with Free Aim you can attack in any direction you please. I hope you have fun with this feature during boss fights.

Yoshio Sakamoto, on the free-aiming system for Metroid: Samus Returns (Developer Diary)[1]

Metroid Samus Returns - Samus fighting creatures 2

Samus using the Free Aim near Chute Leeches and a Gullugg in Metroid: Samus Returns

Free Aim or Free Aim Mode is a feature used in the Metroid Prime series, Metroid: Other M and Metroid: Samus Returns, which generally grants fluid control over which direction the player can aim Samus' Arm Cannon. In most games, it is a secondary mode that must be accessed by holding down a button and prevents Samus from moving from where she stands, due to controller limitations.


In the Metroid Prime seriesEdit

In the first three-dimensional Metroid video game, Metroid Prime, as well as its sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the third dimension exponentially increases the directions in which Samus can aim her Arm Cannon, allowing for free-aiming. However, these two games, being released for the GameCube, do not rely on free-aiming, and instead use a lock-on to snap a targeting reticule on an enemy, eliminating the need for the player to directly position the reticule for an accurate shot. However, the player may enter free-aim by holding down a shoulder button and pushing the Control Stick to manually aim Samus' Arm Cannon, while being unable to move from where she is standing.

Free-aim becomes the only aiming system available in the next two installments of the Prime series, Metroid Prime Hunters and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, which take advantage of the motion controls of the Nintendo DS and the Wii to implement precise aiming. The former abandons the lock-on system, requiring the player to manually adjust the camera likewise, whether with the face buttons or the touch screen, to aim. The latter takes advantage of the Wii Remote's infrared pointer system to grant the player the ability to intuitively aim Samus' Arm Cannon anywhere through a targeting reticule. Depending on options, the player may still be able to aim at other targets even while locked onto a particular target, allowing the player to engage multiple threats simultaneously in certain situations, such as hordes of Crawltanks and Crawlmines in the Xenoresearch Lab early into the game. In both games, and only these games (as well as the Wii ports of Prime and Echoes), Samus can still move while free-aiming, which can be seen as a convenience to players.

The free-aiming system of Corruption was praised by critics as intuitive, and inspired the developer, Retro Studios, to develop Wii ports of the previous two chapters of Prime with the same aiming system used in Corruption and release them together with Corruption in the compilation Metroid Prime: Trilogy, granting players the then-unavailable ability to move while aiming in those two games. By default, the free-aim does not snap the targeting reticule to a locked-on enemy, although the player can adjust in-game options such that it does. As the first two games were not designed with free-aim in mind, some of the boss battles, such as the Omega Pirate in Metroid Prime, may be more difficult than when first played on the GameCube if the lock-on system is not set to rein in the targeting reticule.

In Metroid: Other MEdit

Free aim returns in Metroid: Other M as Search View, a secondary aiming system that is accessed when the player shifts into first-person perspective by rotating the Wii Remote such that its infrared pointer faces the screen. This aiming mode breaks from the limited number of directions Samus can fire from in third-person perspective, allowing her to fire at enemies and obstacles with great precision while being unable to move from where she stands.

In Metroid: Samus ReturnsEdit

Metroid: Samus Returns demonstrates how the concept of "free-aim" can translate from the 3-D Prime games into a 2-D Metroid game, by allowing her to aim in a 360° arc around one axis, as opposed to the discrete, few directions she can fire in prior 2-D Metroid games, to precisely target enemies. While the 3-D Prime games used a targeting reticle to track where Samus is aiming, Samus Returns equips Samus with a laser sight to track her aiming direction, which will glow red when it intersects with an enemy or certain objects like Item Spheres. If she aims at crystals while the baby is with her, it will eat them. As with most Metroid games that use free-aim, this mode must be accessed by holding down a button, and Samus cannot move from where she stands during free-aim, although she is allowed to jump and use the Melee Counter.

Grapple Point AimingEdit

If Samus free aims the Arm Cannon at a Grapple Point, the laser sight will glow blue and the Arm Cannon will automatically select the Grapple Beam if it is not selected (only after it has been acquired), allowing her to grapple onto the Grapple Point without having to manually switch beams. If Samus points it away or lets go of the Grapple Point after latching on, she will automatically switch back to the beam she was using before aiming at the Grapple Point. As a result, Free Aiming at Grapple Points acts as a quick method for switching to the Grapple Beam which is useful in combat situations and the Diggernaut chase sequence.

Official dataEdit

Metroid Prime 3: CorruptionEdit

Instruction manualEdit

"Advanced Controls - Aiming/Firing: Aiming is a simple matter of pointing where you want to shoot with the Wii Remote...the Lock-On Free Aiming setting will default to OFF, making shots home in on locked-on targets." (page 7)

Metroid Prime: TrilogyEdit

Instruction manualEdit

"Options - Controls: Lock-On/Free Aim: This sets whether you can move where you aim while locked on. The initial setting is ON, and your aiming cursor will move while locked on." (page 7)

Metroid: Samus ReturnsEdit

E3 websiteEdit

"Classic Metroid II: Return of Samus gameplay is joined by a wealth of new content, including a set of brand new abilities that utilizes a mysterious energy resource called “Aeion,” a powerful melee counterattack, and 360-degree Free Aim Mode."'

On-screen tutorialsEdit

  • "Press and hold [L] to lock your position and enter Free Aim mode."
  • "Use [Circle Pad] to aim in the direction you wish to fire beams and missiles."


  1. ^ Metroid: Samus Returns - Developer Diary (Nintendo 3DS) (YouTube). Nintendo UK (June 14, 2017). Retrieved on July 14, 2018.

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