When frozen, certain enemies can be shattered with Missiles (or charged shots in the Prime series). It is commonly used to combat Metroids, especially larvae, as it exploits their weakness to low temperatures. The official website for Metroid Prime states this as being one of "Samus Aran's favorite tactics".
The Ice Beam appears in all Metroid games except for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Metroid Prime Hunters, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Metroid Dread. Samus collects the Dark Beam in Echoes, the Judicator in Hunters and the Ice Missile in Corruption and Dread, all of which have similar properties.
|“||So we could blast a hole into a wall. That got us thinking – what else could we do, can we perhaps go up? So we came up with the ice-beam. The ice-beam is also the result of rational thinking. We had very limited memory. So we decided that Samus should be able to jump on frozen enemies and use them as a platform. And that was a great help for saving memory. All we had to do was change an object's colour and by simply changing the so-called collision-check the former enemy suddenly becomes a stepping stone; a really nice gameplay element that hardly requires any memory at all. So the original Metroid was the result of a lot of hard work and many of the features were hit upon by coincidence.||„|
In Metroid Fusion
The Ice Beam was thought to be incompatible with the Fusion Suit by the Galactic Federation, as the Metroid Vaccine gave Samus a vulnerability to ice. This was proven by the Cold X, the cold climates of several rooms within the Biologic Space Laboratories research station and the SA-X's own Ice Beam being able to both completely freeze her in place and damage her. However, following the acquisition of the Varia Suit upgrade, this vulnerability was seemingly neutralized, as Samus could withstand all mentioned threats; thus she did not receive the Ice Beam until near the end of the game from the SA-X.
Before that point, freezing was done with the Ice and Diffusion Missiles, suggesting that Samus' Missiles are not integrated as close to her body when compared to her Beam weapons. The Ice Missiles replaced the Ice Beam in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption as well, because the game used a beam-stacking system instead of a beam-switching system, so it would not be possible to combine the Ice and Plasma Beams, the latter of which represents fire in the Prime trilogy.
Despite Samus apparently overcoming her vulnerability to cold at the end of Fusion, she is once again susceptible to it in Metroid Dread. However, this time the Varia Suit is unable to protect Samus from extreme cold; thus the Gravity Suit is now required. She uses Ice Missiles once again in place of the Ice Beam.
In Metroid: Other M
Samus retains the Ice Beam from Super Metroid, but does not use it until she is authorized to after joining forces with Adam Malkovich's 07th Platoon. Soon after she enters the Pyrosphere for the first time, she is locked in a room with multiple fire-based creatures. Realizing that her standard Power Beam is too inferior against them, Adam authorizes her to use the Ice Beam.
The Ice Beam behaves much like its 2D counterparts. Key differences include its inability to completely freeze most enemies (only small creatures such as Geemers can be encased in solid ice). Rather, when it impacts a larger creature, it can partially freeze them, such as freezing one of a Sidehopper's legs in place, or a Zebesian's claws. This ability of the beam is key in battling certain bosses, of course. Another difference from the rest of the series is that if an enemy is completely frozen in midair, it will actually fall to the ground and shatter. Unlike the 2D counterparts, the Ice Beam does not "color" the Wave and Plasma Beams white or blue, as the strongest beam in her current arsenal will override its hue.
In Metroid Prime
The Ice Beam is a slow-firing interchangeable Beam upgrade to Samus' arsenal. Upon impact with a solid surface, the shot will freeze into a small fragment of ice and then shatter. When the Ice Beam is charged up, the Ice Beam will not only create a larger fragment of ice upon impact, but it will also freeze various enemies in their place. The Ice Beam is able to open White Doors. The 10 Missile Beam Combo for the Ice Beam is the Ice Spreader, which is a missile that releases a rapidly spreading sheet of ice upon the impacted surface. Such a weapon is highly effective against flying enemies, or those that attack or move in swarms. A glitch in the GameCube versions allows collecting the upgrade before fighting the Flaahgra, which can then lead to more opportunities for Sequence Breaking. This does not aid in the fight against Flaahgra, however, as the Ice Beam has no effect on either Flaahgra or the Mirror Arrays that Samus must flip over to defeat Flaahgra.
Similar to fighting Metroids and other creatures in 2D installments, Samus may freeze a foe and then shatter it with a Missile, ultimately killing it. Samus can also shatter some frozen enemies with a charged Power Beam shot, but due to the length it takes to both switch beams and charge up a shot before an enemy thaws out, this is rarely seen.
Although the Ice Beam can kill weaker enemies in one hit, a glancing shot on these can freeze them instead.
In Metroid: Samus Returns
Unlike the 2D counterparts, the Ice Beam in Samus Returns does not stack with the Wave, Spazer, or Plasma Beams, and has a separate selection option from the standard Power Beam, along with the Grapple Beam. Interestingly, the Ice Beam option is disabled when Samus activates the Beam Burst Aeion ability as the Beam Burst takes up both the Power Beam and Ice Beam slots when active, leaving the Beam Burst and Grapple Beam the only selectable beam options.
The Ice Beam also does significantly less damage than in previous installments, to the point where it is even weaker than the standard Power Beam. However, using Missiles or the Melee Counter on a frozen enemy will cause them to instantly shatter.
Unlike Metroid II: Return of Samus, all Metroids can be injured by the Ice Beam. Although Metroids above the larval stage can no longer be frozen over, a charged shot on the Alpha and Gamma Metroids will freeze over their underbellies, briefly staggering them and preventing the creatures from covering themselves in energy. It can also be used to ground Gamma Metroids as they fall to the ground when their underbellies are frozen and causes them to perform their lunge attack that can be parried by the Melee Counter. Despite this, all Metroids past the larval stage can still be battled using the Beam Burst.
Presumably, the Ice Beam was left separate from the Power Beam due to its effectiveness in combating Metroids and its platforming ability.
Ice Beam Platforms
Samus has the ability to safely stand on frozen enemies, creating Ice Beam Platforms. This technique has been present in all traditional 2D games in the series to date, and was created for the original game in order to save memory. It is usually crucial at some point in the games, as it gives extra height for jumping. The same technique can be achieved using Ice Missiles. In the Prime series, creating and using Ice Beam Platforms with the Ice Beam (as well as the Entangler or Ice Missiles in the sequels) is possible but usually impractical due to the games' 3D environment, and it is impossible in Metroid: Other M as enemies no longer completely freeze over and are now affected by gravity. Most enemies cannot be used as platforms even after being frozen with the Ice Missile in Metroid Dread.
- "This allows you to freeze an enemy temporarily. If you already have a long beam, then the Ice Beam becomes a long ice beam. This can't be used at the same time as the wave beam. When you freeze an enemy, you can climb over it."
- "Freezes enemies for a short period of time and can also destroy them. Can't be combined with the Wave Beam."
- "This allows you to freeze the enemy temporarily. You can escape from strong enemies by freezing them. You can climb up to high places by stepping on frozen enemies like stairs."
Metroid II: Return of Samus manual
- "This beam will freeze an enemy for a short period of the time, making them unable to move. Samus can jump on a frozen enemy without receiving damage."
Super Metroid manual
- "The Ice Beam freezes enemies for a short time. You can use frozen enemies as platforms."
- "The Ice Beam was built to emit a ray that chills various forms of organic life to their individual freezing points. It won’t work on all enemies."
Super Metroid Players' Guide (Ice Ray, page 9)
- "Freezes nasties temporarily. Once frozen, they can easily be blasted or Samus can use them as steps to higher places. Be aware, though, that they soon thaw out.
- Location: Norfair."
Official Metroid Prime website
- Weapon effect: Freezing or slowing opponents
- Weapon range: 3 m
- Weapon potential: High
- "Chozo Technology. The Ice Beam upgrade for Samus Aran's arm cannon emits a sub-zero attack capable of freezing certain enemies. If the Ice Beam does not freeze a target solid, it will at least slow it down. Charging the Ice Beam increases the amount of time enemies are frozen. One of Samus Aran's favorite tactics is to freeze an enemy and then shatter its body with a Missile attack. The Ice Beam is also quite effective against fire-based enemies."
- "The Ice Beam makes up for its slow rate of fire with its ability to freeze enemies. A charged-up Ice Beam blast will freeze an enemy for longer, allowing time to launch a Missile and shatter the creature."
Metroid Prime manual
- "The Ice Beam has a slower rate of fire than the Power Beam, but it makes up for this flaw with its ability to immobilize enemies briefly with a layer of ice. Some enemies are particularly vulnerable to this weapon, so experiment with it. The Ice Beam may destroy weak enemies rather than freezing them."
Samus and Joey volume 3
- "This powerful beam freezes enemies instantaneously!"
Use the Ice Beam to open White Doors.
The Ice Beam is quite effective against fire-based creatures.
Charge the Ice Beam to increase the time an enemy will stay frozen when hit.
Some frozen enemies can be shattered by Missile hits.
Metroid: Zero Mission manual
- "This weapon allows Samus to freeze enemies temporarily. Samus can stand on frozen enemies."
Zero Mission Samus Screen data
- "This beam can freeze enemies in place. You can safely stand on frozen enemies."
- QUESTION: Congrats on the release of Metroid Prime 2. My question is how come there aren’t any beams like the Ice Beam?
- ANSWER: Like the game's concept, we designed the beams in tune with light and dark. (But, you can immobilize enemies with the Dark Beam! Try it!)
Metroid.com (Other M)
- "The sub-zero temperatures emitted from the Ice Beam can stop foes dead in their tracks. Charging this beam yields particularly frigid results."
Metroid: Other M manual
- "Adds the ability to freeze enemies. Effective against hot creatures, it also increases the beam's attack power. You can also fire Charge Beams."
Other M Samus Screen data
- "Effects:Boosts damage, effective against high-temperature creatures.
Secondary effect of freezing some targets."
Metroid: Other M on-screen tutorial
- ICE BEAM
- Ice energy has been added to your beam. You can freeze targets with the Charge Beam.
Metroid: Samus Returns website
- ICE BEAM
- "Freeze enemies on contact, allowing them to be used as platforms."
Samus Returns Samus Screen data
- "The Ice Beam freezes enemies. Frozen foes can be used as platforms. Charge before firing to keep enemies frozen longer. Tap its icon on the touch screen to equip and press [Y to] fire."
- Ice Beam Platforms
- "Charge up and fire an Ice Beam shot to freeze an enemy solid. While frozen, the enemy can be makeshift platform. Use these platforms to reach places."
The Armory (p. 11)
- "The perfect tool for dealing with Metroids, especially on their home turf. The Ice Beam is not only the one beam-type weapon that can harm a Metroid, but it's also incredibly useful when dealing with all the other creatures that inhabit SR388. Note, however, that "creatures" does not include non-organic enemies, of which there are plenty that aren't affected by the Ice Beam."
Walkthrough (p. 48)
- "Regarding the Ice Beam's specific functionality, if you shoot a regular enemy (i.e. not a boss), it freezes temporarily. Continue shooting it to keep it frozen. Hitting it with a fully charged shot freezes it for a substantial amount of time. While frozen, enemies can be jumped on and used as makeshift platforms. They're also extremely weak to melee and missile attacks. A single hit from a melee attack or a single missile attack will almost certainly shatter a frozen enemy. This combination is one of the deadliest in the game, exceeding the strength of even the most powerful weapons. It takes speed and precision, but the efficiency of this one-two combo is worth the effort of practice."
- "The Ice Beam in #Metroid: Samus Returns allows her to temporarily freeze enemies in place. Frozen enemies can even be used as platforms." 
Behind the scenes
Although the exact methodology by which the Ice Beam freezes enemies is unknown, laser cooling is already used in terrestrial laboratory conditions to reduce the temperature of low-density gases. Currently, the technique is only applied to isolated atoms or molecules, but with more advanced technology it could conceivably be applied to large-scale objects.
However, two other freezing weapons in the Metroid universe- the Freeze Gun and Judicator- appear to work by firing a chemical refrigerant and ultracold plasma, respectively. Although both of these weapons consume ammunition and the Ice Beam does not, the ability of the Ice Spreader to "load" the active agent of the beam onto Missiles implies a physical projectile (as opposed to the energy beams used in laser cooling).
- Because the Ice Beam often prioritizes freezing, this can be a drawback against weaker enemies, but beneficial if they need to be frozen.
- In the original Metroid, enemies do not take damage from being frozen by the Ice Beam. Instead, the act of shooting a frozen enemy will unfreeze it while simultaneously causing damage. Because of this, the player will need to shoot the enemy twice as many times with the Ice Beam as they would with the normal Beam.
- A frozen enemy in Metroid II: Return of Samus that is close enough to death will die once the freeze effect wears off.
- In Super Metroid, the Ice Beam does not kill enemies on the last shot, but rather freezes them. The next shot will be fatal, provided that the enemy is still frozen.
- In Metroid Fusion, Ice Missiles function this way instead of the Ice Beam, which is significantly more powerful than other beams.
- The Ice Beam is found thrice in Metroid II, unlike the other beams. The first time is in Phase 2, and the second time in Phase 7's Chozo ruins (where all beams are found in separate chambers in one shaft). The third and final time is in Phase 9, before Samus fights the Queen Metroid. This is for ease of access as there is no stacking of beams in Metroid II. In Samus Returns, which features the Ice Beam as a separate weapon from the other Beams, it is placed exclusively in Area 1.
- In addition to freezing enemies, the Ice Beam in Metroid II can freeze a Wallfire's projectiles.
- According to the Nintendo Official Guide Book for Super Metroid, the Ice Beam bends space and time and stops the entropy of the target, explaining why enemies are suspended in midair when frozen.
- After obtaining the Ice Beam in Metroid: Zero Mission, all further beam upgrades will be stacked with it and given its signature blue hue. Skipping the Ice Beam and obtaining the Wave Beam via sequence breaking or the Plasma Beam via hacking shows that both beams have uniquely colored sprites of their own.
- Prior to Metroid: Other M, enemies frozen with the Ice Beam whilst in midair would remain in that specific spot until the ice thaws out, able to be used as a platform by Samus. Not even in the 3-D Prime or its sequels (where enemies were frozen with the Entangler and Ice Missiles, respectively) would enemies fall to the ground when frozen in midair. Other M is the first game to realistically portray frozen enemies, such as Metroids which fall to the floor until they break free.
- Curiously, the SA-X's Ice Beam lacks the ice particles and wavy effects.
- GameTrailers ranked the Ice Beam as number 4 in the top 10 best weapons in video games due to its use as both a weapon and an exploration aid by turning enemies into platforms in the 2-D games. 
- In Metroid Prime, the Ice Beam is not an absolute necessity to defeat Metroids, unlike their prior 2D counterparts. This inconsistency with established lore initially earned it criticism from fans at the time. In the game's sequels, this was rectified by new lore that states Metroids undergo thorough biological and physiological changes as they adapt to environments outside of SR388 and are exposed to radioactive elements. Thus, the Metroids from Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, which were given the subspecies name of Tallon Metroid, are weaker than those from SR388 and Zebes due to their adaptation and/or exposure to Phazon.
- Metroid Prime's version of the Plasma Beam, which has the opposite elemental alignment, is far more effective in dispatching the eponymous foes than using the Ice Beam alone. However, the classic Ice Beam and Missile(s) combo remains the fastest method of killing the creatures when using the Arm Cannon in the same game.
- The Ice Beam is referred to as the freeze beam in a Metroid Prime print ad.
- The Ice Beam, along with Samus herself and some of her other abilities, were slated to appear in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, but was ultimately removed due to a decision that used the PlayStation 2 to support the game's demo. The Ice Beam appeared to be based on the Prime iteration.
- In the first Metroid Prime, the symbol for the Ice Beam is a hand print sticking out its thumb, index, and pinky fingers. Donning the Scan Visor reveals that Samus positions her hand in this manner to activate the beam.
- In the Metroid Prime beta, the Ice Beam hand print was the same design as the Power Beam hand print, but white.
- In Metroid Prime, the Ice Beam was modeled and skinned by Gene Kohler.
- Ironically, in Other M, the Ice Beam is still effective on ice-based enemies in Sector 2 / Cryosphere.
- In Other M, if an enemy is left completely frozen solid (such as a Sova or an Asborean), it will explode and die shorty after. Sturdier enemies such as Baristutes and Magdollites will have body parts frozen over, rendering them immobile until they break free.
- The effect of the Freeze Gun seems to be stronger than the Ice Beam, as a single shot was able to freeze a Magdollite solid, while it takes a fully charged shot of the Ice Beam just to freeze over a Magdollite's mouth. At the same time, the Freeze Guns did not demonstrate this effectiveness during the battle against the Brug Mass.
- In chapter 4 of Samus and Joey, volume 1, Samus escapes captivity from thousands of Megaroid crystals by using her Plasma Beam and Ice Beam to destroy them, via thermal shock.
- Up until Metroid Dread, all games that featured the Ice Beam also featured the Wave Beam, and vice versa.
- The Ice Beam shares its name with a move in Pokémon.
- As with the other beams in Metroid Prime, the Ice Beam has an affect on the Arm Cannon when charging. In the case of the Ice Beam, the tip of the Arm Cannon freezes over and ice particles are seen floating outwards. However, in the New Play Control! and Metroid Prime Trilogy versions of Prime this effect is absent. This is likely explained by the Wii's limited hardware, but the effect for other beams remains in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
- Unused text can be found in Metroid Fusion pertaining to the acquisition of the Ice Beam. It is similar to normal ingame text found whenever Samus obtains any powerup or upgrade, but the Ice Beam's item acquisition text was likely dropped due to it being the last item obtained into the game and during a late game scenario, where it is only used against one enemy that cannot be frozen (though the beam does work as it should outside its intended area via Debug Menu).
- Interestingly by the way the text is worded, the Ice Beam isn't named the Ice Beam as with the rest of the beams Samus recovers. Instead it sounds more like it is an ice effect being applied to the current beams itself (which would technically be true as the Ice Beam is being stacked with the Wave, Plasma, and Wide beams at that time). It is also possible that most of the text is simply being reused from the Ice Missile's item acquisition text.
- The text reads:
|Armaments||Arm Cannon • Paralyzer|
|Weapons||Power Beam • Wave Beam • Ice Beam • Plasma Beam • Grapple Beam |
Hyper Beam: (MD/MP3/SM) • Phazon Beam • Dark Beam • Light Beam
Annihilator Beam • Nova Beam • Zero Laser
|Enhancements||Beam Burst • Charge Beam • Diffusion Beam • Long Beam • Phazon bullets • Spazer Beam • Tractor beam • Wide Beam • Omega Cannon (Dread)|
|Affinity Weapons||Volt Driver • Battlehammer • Magmaul • Shock Coil • Judicator • Imperialist • Omega Cannon (Hunters) • Electro Lob|