One of Samus Aran's most crucial features in her missions has been her ability to create a Map of the current area she is in. The Power Suit maps out rooms as Samus progresses, but Samus can download full-fledged maps from Map Stations she comes across (except in Metroid Prime Hunters, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and Metroid: Samus Returns, the latter of which instead features the map-revealing Scan Pulse).
2D Metroid series
The original Metroid and Metroid II: Return of Samus did not feature maps, thereby making gameplay somewhat difficult. Super Metroid was the first game to feature a map for all areas (except Ceres Space Colony) and this has been a feature ever since. 2-D maps are generally divided into Map Tiles which represent Scroll Blocks within the actual game. The map in Metroid Dread is a slight exception to this however, as it is more detailed with much smaller map tiles. Map data from a Map Station in Super Metroid would be highlighted in blue, and become pink as the player enters their respective Scroll Block. In Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission, Map Stations instead display unvisited rooms as gray; when Samus enters them, the tile turns blue. Rooms not given on the map station are highlighted in green to make them stand out more as off the beaten path; these areas are described by Metroid: Zero Mission: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide as "unknown to the Zebesian mapmakers." Metroid: Samus Returns and Dread simply use a dimmer color for map sections revealed by the Scan Pulse and Map Rooms respectively. Super Metroid marked bosses on the map using skeleton heads, placing a red X and square around the head when the boss was killed. Metroid Fusion also marks bosses on the map in a similar fashion but does not indicate when they are killed. Dread uses the head of an unknown creature, which is initially red but turns gray after the boss is killed.
Metroid Fusion, Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid: Other M display item tallies and clear time on the map screen. In Metroid Fusion, the map will show item tallies for each type of pickup in total, and pressing the select button will narrow it down to the area Samus is in. It will also show a picture of each item on the top of the map with a check mark next to it once Samus has collected all of the items in that sector. In Zero Mission, it only shows pickup data for the area that Samus is in, though she can view the other maps by pressing the select button. A check mark will be placed next to each pickup counter in their respective area once they have all been collected. These games also will display doors on the map, matching the color of the door it is signifying. In Metroid: Zero Mission alone, heated rooms would be displayed in orange once they are entered, signifying that the Varia Suit would be needed to traverse them. In Metroid: Samus Returns, superheated rooms are displayed as red, even before they are entered. In Dread, the rooms are shown with a red color that turns orange when explored; similarly, supercooled rooms are displayed as blue. The top right corner of all 2D games from Super Metroid onward (except Samus Returns; see below) displays a Minimap. In later games, specific locations are pointed out, such as areas Adam Malkovich orders Samus to go to. In Zero Mission, the Chozo Statues reveal the locations of upgrades, but Samus is not restricted on her path and forced to seek out these upgrades, rather, she can do so whenever she prefers.
Super Metroid also introduced items being pointed out on the map, specifically by a dot. This dot would appear to signify something of significance on the map, but did not show all hidden items. Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission expanded on this, making uncollected items be represented as circles on their respective map tile, and turn into dots when they are collected. These games also showed dots on almost any map tile that had an item in it, instead of only pointing out a few of them. Samus Returns uses a mixture; a circle signifies a hidden item, a sprite for the item itself (e.g. an Energy or Missile Tank) is used when it has been identified, and a simple dot shows collected items. Dread shows the item type at all times, though it turns slightly transparent once the item is collected. Prior to this, the general area surrounding the item flashes white to indicate an item is somewhere nearby.
In Super Metroid, Samus’s current position is indicated by a blinking yellow block on the Minimap and a white empty box on the main Map. in Metroid Fusion, Samus’s current position on both the main Map and the Minimap is indicated by a flashing white box. In Metroid: Zero Mission, her current position is once again marked by a flashing white box on the Minimap but is indicated by her Power Suit’s helmet on the main Map (or Samus’s face when in her Zero Suit). Samus Returns and Dread consistently represent her using her Power Suit's helmet.
Super Metroid featured a map of the entire planet when loading a save file from the Samus Data Screen, showing each area as hexagons. Prime and Echoes carried on this tradition in the World Maps.
The map in Metroid: Samus Returns is displayed on the Nintendo 3DS' bottom screen (much like in Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt and Metroid Prime: Federation Force), and can thus either be moved by touching it or using any of the analog nubs. In addition to this, 10 pins per area of different colors can be placed on the map and serve as reminders to the player, and a Metroid Marker can be placed on the map using the Metroid amiibo. The map customization options return in Metroid Dread, minus the Metroid Marker. Also in Dread, the minimap on the HUD can be expanded by pressing left on the Joy-Con.
In Other M, the map is similar to the ones in previous games. However, there are no map tiles, and entire rooms are added as they are entered. Each Navigation Booth Samus visits usually loads a certain amount of rooms on the Map, which are initially a dim color until she enters them. Samus’s current location on the Map is represented by a blue arrow, with a dimmer blue light being projected in front of whichever direction she is currently facing. In this game, items (which are usually revealed when Samus clears a room of enemies or examines the item in Search View) are indicated by a small blue circle, which disappears once Samus collects the item. Items contained within crates are not revealed on the Map until the post-credits sequence (unless Samus locates and destroys the crate), during which all remaining items will be marked. Also, the Minimap in this game seems more detailed than the main Map, which is especially noticeable in the Exam Center in the Biosphere, in which the building's rooms are not marked on the main Map but are displayed on the Minimap in proximity to Samus's location. Finally, the map in this game can be zoomed-in by pressing the A button on the Wii Remote.
Metroid Prime series
The map in the Metroid Prime series functions mostly like the 2D games, but with a major difference: rooms are displayed in holographic shapes and there is a legend and control display, but no clear time or tallies (these are left to other areas of the Pause Menu or Samus Data Screen). In all four games visited rooms are displayed in orange while non-visited rooms are blue. Samus' location is represented by a pulsating green arrow with a red tip. According to Metroid Prime Hunters, the map works using a Thermal Positioner that tracks Samus' position and identifies other important objects in the area. The interface for the map in Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is mainly identical, but changed in Metroid Prime Hunters and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
All three Metroid Prime Trilogy games (Hunters excluded) feature Level and World Maps. Level focuses on the area Samus is currently in, while World Map allows her to examine maps of other areas. This resembles the map of Zebes seen in Super Metroid as both featured all areas in different colors, in shapes resembling clusters of honeycombs. Echoes features the ability to switch to the Dark Aether or Aether counterpart of the current room/area in the map viewer. The Dark room will be colored deep red. Hunters features the Tetra Galaxy Scan Screen with destinations that Samus can fly to in her Hunter Gunship, while in Corruption, she has a similar Galaxy Map with destinations for her new Gunship. In all games, locations are gradually added as they are discovered.
Because of the 3D nature of the Prime series, the maps of all games in it except Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt, the full Metroid Prime Hunters, and Metroid Prime: Federation Force feature a compass that shows cardinal directions.
The Hint system in all three games in the trilogy causes some rooms to appear on the map before they are visited and names them while placing a question mark on the room's hologram and whatever objective is required (for example, a half-pipe found in Tallon Canyon). Downloaded, unvisited rooms that appear on the map do not display the room name until Samus has visited them, except in Corruption.
The Metroid Prime 3: Corruption key lists a purple "Grapple Voltage Door", though no such doors exist in the game. This may have been a scrapped gameplay element, though there are terminals that must be energized or drained using the Grapple Voltage, which power shields that sometimes block doors. Additionally, the yellow Multi-Lock Blast Shield door is featured in the key despite only being featured in one instance in the game.
In Corruption, the Chozo Observatory features a series of puzzles that utilize Elysian satellites to download Logbook entries on Tallon IV and Aether and also marking locations of expansions in almost all areas of the game (except the G.F.S. Valhalla) similarly to the 2-D games. The Pirate Homeworld satellite requires the X-Ray Visor and Nova Beam as the panel to trigger the satellite launch is blocked by Phazite. Individual rooms can be bookmarked for future reference, and are highlighted green when this is done.
There is a map on the right side of the screen in the Metroid Prime flash game.
"When you press Start during a game, a map screen for the current area's displayed. The pink areas on the map indicate where Samus has already been. You can also scroll around the screen by using the control pad.
The following items are displayed on the screen:
Samus' current position
The position of data save units (the last save position is displayed in yellow)
The position of the map computer
Last Save Station
Nintendo Power issue 162, page 38
- MAPPING – Getting Around in Style
- "If an open-ended world with hundreds of areas sounds like a lot to remember, Samus has you covered. Her suit has a mapping system that is both functional and easy to use. By pressing the Z Button, you can bring up a map that shows where you have been, where you need to go and what rooms are still unexplored."
Metroid Prime manual
Minimap: "This area shows a small section of the current map. If you press the Z Button, you'll call up the full-screen map (see page 24)."
"By pressing the Z Button during game play, you can call up a three-dimensional map display of the region Samus is currently in. Unless Samus has downloaded the full map for that particular region by finding a Map Room, the only areas that will appear will be ones that she has explored already. Once she downloads the map, however, rooms she has explored will glow orange while those yet to be explored will appear without color.
The coloured dots on the map are exits-the colours indicate which weapons will open the doors. Samus herself will appear as an arrow pointing in the direction she currently faces. You can zoom in or out with the L and R Buttons, move around with the C Stick, or rotate the 3-D display with the Control Stick. To view the World Map, press the A Button. To toggle the map key on and off, press the Y Button."
Metroid: Other M Tutorials
Use [+] to see where you are and where you need to go."
"Blue dots on the map show the location of items."
"A blue dot will appear once all the enemies around that item are defeated."
Metroid: Samus Returns website
- "An enhanced mapping system, which populates as you discover new areas and allows you to place pins in points of interest, making it easier to return later on."
Metroid: Samus Returns manual
- Map menu
- "Touch this to display the map menu screen (page 8)."
- Using the Map Menu Screen
- "Press [Start] on the main screen or touch [file] to open the map menu screen.
- Press [L] to view the Aeion ability screen and [R] to view the equipment screen."
- Percentage of items collected and number of pins placed
- "Shows the current area's item collection percentage and how many pins you have placed on that area's map."
- Map menu
- "Touch the icons to do the following."
- World map
- "Displays a map of the entire planet. Select an area to check its map."
- Scan amiibo
- "If you have an amiibo (page 11) you can scan it to gain bonuses or unlock new modes in the game."
- Map icon legend
- "Shows a list of all map icons and their meanings."
- "Confirm control settings or restart the game from an earlier point."
Metroid Dread tutorials
- Map loaded for first time
- "If an area on the map is blinking, it indicates a hidden item there."
- After Map of Artaria downloaded
- "On the Map, the yellow rooms are saving facilities. The purple rooms contain transportation devices."
Metroid Dread loading screen tip
- "When you first enter an E.M.M.I. Zone, its boundaries and exits will be automatically identified on your map. Knowing where the exits are located will dramatically increase your odds of survival."
Metroid Dread Report, Volume 3
- 4. Exploration
- "The games in the Metroid series don’t follow a linear “clear the stage” setup—they are exploratory action games where you journey through a sophisticated, maze-like world. Picking up new items and weapons along the way lets you expand the areas you can visit, allowing you to explore new destinations and discover alternate routes. Map-reading and navigation skills can be quite helpful.
- The map itself has evolved, too. Where previous maps used a simple cell-based view, this new map has become a more detailed navigational tool that can show things like differing terrains."
- Icon Highlight
- "This feature allows you to highlight and view the same type of icons across all area maps. It can be extremely handy when looking for places you can newly explore after obtaining an ability."
- "Place up to six markers of different colors anywhere you’d like on the map. These markers will also appear on your minimap during gameplay."
- "You can zoom in and out on the map screen to get a better look at things."
- Hidden item hints
- "Glowing places on the map indicate there are hidden items within that range."
- Expand the minimap
- "During normal gameplay, pressing the Left Directional Button on the Joy-Con™ controller will expand your view of the minimap in the top-right corner of the screen."
- ~Transmission from the dev team~
- "Since the Metroid series of games is all about exploring, it was clear to us that the map—the foundation of exploration—would be an important thing for us to focus on. This new map is powered up from previous, traditional maps in terms of look and function, which we think will make exploring the world feel even smoother than before.
- In addition, players can enjoy greater freedoms when exploring compared to in previous installments, which might encourage you to try new strategies each time you play through."
- FIND YOUR WAY
- "The locations Samus travels are added to the map screen. Consult it to orient yourself, deduce your next destination, and search for secrets."
- ADJUST YOUR VIEW
- "Zoom in and out of the full map screen to get a better look at things. During normal gameplay, you can also press the Left Directional Button on the Joy-Con™ controller to expand your view of the minimap in the top-right corner of the screen."
- "Get a better sense of place with terrain outlines for each location."
- "Place up to six markers of different colors anywhere you’d like on the map. These will also appear on your minimap."
- ICON HIGHLIGHT
- "Highlight and view the same type of map icons across all area maps. Handy for identifying newly accessible areas after obtaining an ability."
- HIDDEN ITEM HINTS
- "Glowing places indicate there are hidden items within that range."
Metroid Dread loading screen tips
- When you first enter an E.M.M.I. Zone, its boundaries and exits will be automatically identified on your map. Knowing where the exits are located will dramatically increase your odds of survival.
- ICON HIGHLIGHT
- Align your cursor with an icon on the Map screen, and press to highlight all icons of the same kind throughout an area map.
- MAP MARKERS
- Press on the Map screen to place a marker. These markers will also be displayed on your minimap, which can be helpful while exploring.
- HIDDEN-ITEM HINTS
- Certain locations on your map will flash white to indicate there is a hidden item in the vicinity.
- ROOM COLORS
- You can save your game in locations marked in yellow on your map. Travel to other areas using a shuttle or elevator from locations marked in purple.
- MINIMAP RANGE
- The yellow frame on the Map screen indicates the display range of your minimap.
- E.M.M.I. AND THE MINIMAP
- An E.M.M.I. that enters your minimap range is displayed as a red dot.
- EXPANDING THE MINIMAP
- During play, press to expand the minimap. Any further input will cause the minimap to return to its default size.
- If you don't know where to go next, look for clues using the Highlight Icon function on your Map screen. Reviewing your Mission Log might help as well.
An early screenshot of Super Metroid only featured an Energy Meter and the minimap on the Heads-Up Display. The minimap was in the center of the HUD, rather than the right corner as in the final game.
- ^ Metroid: Zero Mission: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide pg. 29
- ^ Metroid Dread Report, Volume 3: Seven Points That Define the 2D Saga
- ^ ReyVGM (VGMuseum1). "The Arcade version of Metroid (released on the Playchoice-10 Arcade board), was the first game of the series to have a map. The Arcade cabinet has second screen showing a partial map of Brinstar." 4 October 2020 6:52 p.m. Tweet. https://twitter.com/VGMuseum1/status/1312888404066140160
- ^ Kottpower. "Super Metroid Beta Footage (1993-1994)". YouTube. August 25, 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2022. (starts at 2:12)
- ^ "Metroid.jp Interview: Retro Studios", Shinesparkers, 2021-02-26. Retrieved on 2021-02-26.