At the start of Samus Aran's mission to exterminate the Metroids, she lands her Gunship in this area. The Gunship remains parked at this site throughout the duration of her mission. She can return to it at any time to recharge on Energy and Missiles, as well as saving the game in Samus Returns.
The landing site is a massive area, the largest room on the Surface in both games. It is located between two massive insurmountable cliffs, with one smaller plateau in the middle dividing the room into left and right halves; Samus cannot scale this large rock formation until she acquires the Spider Ball. The Gunship is landed on the right side of the plateau, and she begins her journey through a tunnel at the base of the right cliff. At the end of the mission, Samus returns to the Surface via crystal-filled tunnels leading up to the left side of the area, and she must scale the plateau to return to the Gunship with the baby. In Samus Returns, a new Save Station is located on the far left side of the landing site, allowing her to save without needing to access her Gunship.
The landing site is a tranquil area, largely inhabited only by exotic alien flora. In Samus Returns, the right side of the landing site remains devoid of any creatures, but weaker enemies now populate the plateau and left side of the area. Samus Returns adds the first signs of the ruined SR388 Chozo civilization, with several crumbling ornate structures leading to the tunnel on the right side.
After the Queen Metroid is exterminated and the baby hatches from a Metroid Egg, the tunnel on the right side is blocked off. In Return of Samus, this prevents backtracking, and the game ends once Samus and the baby enter the Gunship. In Samus Returns, this ensures that Samus must return to her Gunship by approaching from the middle plateau, which triggers a cutscene that begins the Proteus Ridley boss battle. During the battle, the Gunship is moved into the background, and Samus cannot leave the right half of the room; a low cloud cover prevents her from scaling the middle plateau.
In both games, the landing site connects to the first tunnel on the right side; this becomes blocked off after the Queen Metroid is killed. In Samus Returns, crystals on the left side block off the crystal-filled tunnels leading into Area 8; in Return of Samus, since these tunnels are technically loaded as the same room as the landing site, this actually connects all the way back to the Queen's nest.
In Samus Returns, the left side of the plateau has a Gigadora-covered door leading to a room with a Grapple Point puzzle. The left cliff has a set of Power Bomb Blocks connecting to a room full of Pit Blocks, which exit back out into the landing site through a wall of Fake Blocks.
- Nintendo Power volume 31 refers to this landing site as "a wide, vertical cave that opens upward to the planet's surface", suggesting that the cliffs on either side of the room are actually the walls of a cave. However, the Super Game Boy Player's Guide states that Samus lands on the outer surface, and Samus Returns clearly shows the landing site on the planet surface rather than in a cave.
|Rooms in SR388|
|Area 1||Vertical chamber • Power Up Cavern • Arena area of Chozo base|
|Area 2||Arachnus' room • Alpha Metroid chamber • Alpha's chamber|
|Area 3||Three tower corridors|
|Area 4||"Octroll Lake"|
|Area 5||Water-filled room (lower/middle) • Grand Cavern • Zeta's chamber • Dark Chamber|
|Area 7||Chozo Tower • Final Omega's chamber|
|Area 8||Liquid-filled hall • "First Metroid passage" • "Queen's nest access" • Queen's nest • "Egg chamber"|