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One of the most unique and integral items of the Metroid games, the Morph Ball (モーフボール or 丸まり Mōfu Bōru or Marumari?), also known as the Morphing Ball (モーフィングボール Mōfingu Bōru?), Maru Mari or Round Ball[1] is the Alt-Form of Samus Aran and allows her to turn into a sphere 0.8 meters in diameter. It allows her to enter small tunnels and openings, which often lead to previously inaccessible areas.

Morph Ball Mode is vital in defeating many bosses from the series, including Amorbis in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and the Queen Metroid in Metroid II: Return of Samus. In non-Prime games, it usually plays an important role in escaping from enemies, such as in Metroid: Zero Mission. In almost every game, a combination of the Morph Ball and a Bomb is the only way to detach a feeding Metroid. In the three Zebes-based games, the item is almost immediately acquired by going left (from the sidescrolling perspective) after entering Brinstar.

Upgrades[edit | edit source]

Samus normal roll.gif

The Morph Ball has many upgrades, such as the Bomb Module, Power Bomb, Spring Ball, Force Ball, Boost Ball, and Spider Ball. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption introduces the new Hyper Ball ability, which allows Samus to generate deadly arcing tendrils of Phazon energy around her when in Hypermode. In Metroid Prime Pinball, the Morph Ball is the ball the player plays with on the pinball machine and introduces the Force Ball.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Samus transforms into the Morph Ball in Metroid Prime.

Throughout the series (most prominently in Echoes), the Morph Ball has changed in appearance according to suit upgrades. The Morph Ball when Samus is in possession of the basic Power Suit is a yellow or gold hue and has three grooves that spiral outwards from the center on each side. Between the two halves is a ball of energy, which is believed to be the essence of Samus. The energy varies in color depending on the suit Samus is wearing: With the Power Suit it is yellow, with the Varia Suit it is usually blue, green or white.

In Metroid Prime, the Morph Ball's structure changes with the acquisition of the Spider Ball: The edges of both halves become concave and filled by the same energy as the core, which is now green. The Morph Ball's color scheme changes twice more after this: When the Gravity Suit is acquired, it becomes purple with a blue core, and ultimately it becomes black with a deep red-orange core when Samus is infused with the Phazon Suit.

Concept art for the three Morph Ball designs in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Varia, Dark and Light Suits.

In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, after the Dark Suit is acquired, the Morph Ball becomes more wheel-like in appearance, in accordance with the shoulder pads of said armor. After acquiring the Spider Ball, a large red dot appears on sides of the Morph Ball. After the Light Suit is acquired, the Morph Ball becomes spherical again but has a spiraling groove on the sides.

In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the Morph Ball becomes a Phazon-blue ball with hexagonal tiles over it after the PED Suit is acquired. When the Hazard Shield is collected, extra plating is added to the Morph Ball. Also, if Samus touches a Liquid Phazon enemy while in Morph Ball mode, she will become engulfed by a portion of the creature, which will eat away at her suit.

In Metroid: Other M, the Morph Ball has a different appearance. The ball and energy are yellow with the Power Suit like in past appearances, but there are now three red stripes that spiral out from the center in the place of the grooves, making it closer in resemblance to the Fusion Suit's Morph Ball form. When the Varia Feature is authorized and activated, the energy becomes green and three shorter yellow stripes are placed alongside the red ones, similar to the small blue stripes on Dark Samus's Morph Ball. When the Gravity Feature is activated, the Morph Ball does not change since the Gravity Feature does not change the suit's color in this game.

In Metroid: Samus Returns, the Morph Ball undergoes a dramatic redesign: The spiraling lines are replaced by more linear grooves and rivets, while the edges are each encircled by a red ring. However, the Gravity Suit once again changes the color scheme to purple and blue.

Other appearances[edit | edit source]

Dark Samus's Morph Ball. Notably, the eye that appears on Dark Samus's hand at the end of Prime is present in the core.

According to a Space Pirate Data "Hunter Weapons" in Prime, the Pirates found the Morph Ball to be a very curious and intriguing technology, but attempts at reverse-engineering the Morph Ball technology all ended in a disaster: the Science Team "wisely decided to move on" after the first four test subjects were horribly broken and twisted after engaging their Morph Ball prototypes.

Dark Samus also possessed a twisted variant of the Morph Ball. She is shown using it in the second fight with her in the Sanctuary Fortress in Echoes, and she creates Dark Echoes which can use the Morph Ball during the fight with AU 313 at the end of Corruption. On both occasions, she uses the Boost Ball and is able to generate massive amounts of kinetic energy at once, which propels her around the area at shocking speeds. Dark Samus's Morph Ball is similar to Samus's and has an eye on each side in Echoes. It is very hard to actually make out the appearance of Dark Samus's Morph Ball in Corruption because it is always traveling at great speeds. The energy surrounding it while it is using the Boost Ball also obscures its appearance.

Dark Samus' Morph Ball also heavily resembles the Glire, Glice and Glunder enemies in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The Morph Ball has limited appearances in gameplay as Samus; her rolling dodge has her literally roll aside to avoid attacks, and her Down-B special "Bomb" transforms her to the Morph Ball and drops the signature Bomb.


Morph Ball trophy.png

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Exactly how it functions is unknown, but Prime concept art shows a large ball forming around Samus from her suit's material, then shrinking down to its miniature size - in-game, a core of energy is visible through the equator between the two sides, indicating that Samus may transform into energy to fit into the smaller ball. Zero Mission design documents refer to the Chozo being capable of "unique transforming into a sphere," implying that the user's body is physically within the ball somehow.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

The Morph Ball Bombs are acquired in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.

  • In the manual for Metroid, the Morph Ball is referred to as Maru Mari (marumari is the gerund form of the Japanese verb marumaru, meaning "to roll into a ball"). This name is used in another instance in the Super Metroid Nintendo Player's Guide.
  • The only time Samus ever demonstrated the use of the Morph Ball outside her Power Suit was in the original Metroid via the password system. Zero Suit Samus crawls under gaps in Zero Mission and slides under them during the Countdown at the end of Other M.
    • One player's Miiverse question about why Samus could not crawl led to the Y can't Metroid crawl? meme.
    • Samus isn't the only character to get an iconic part of her appearance or skill-set due to graphical limitations of the Nintendo Entertainment System; Mario (and Luigi) got his hat and mustache to avoid having to animate hair and a mouth respectively.
  • In the Prime series, if Samus uses the Morph Ball before jumping from a high ledge, she will not be stunned from the fall like she would in bipedal form.
  • According to Clark Wen, the Morph Ball transition sounds in the Prime series are his favorite, and he wanted to get them right. The result in the final game is a mix of synths and processed recordings made to sound synthetic, as he thought the transformation between bipedal and Morph Ball forms was driven by electric magnets.[3]
  • In Metroid Prime, the Morph Balls for every suit were modeled and skinned by Gene Kohler.
  • Derek Bonikowski researched, animated and tested the Morph Ball in the Prime Series.
  • According to Colin Reed, the reflective surface of the Morph Ball in Metroid Prime Hunters was created by an unspecified artist who worked late into the night. However, he began to use the effect excessively in other areas, meaning they had to scale it down.[4]
  • The Morph Ball was slated to appear in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance along with Samus and several of her other abilities, however, they did not appear in the final game due to Nintendo not giving consent. The depiction in the trailer appears to be based on that of Prime as Samus charges forward several times, suggesting the Boost Ball was intended to appear as well.
  • The Morph Ball is featured in the Burger King toy Metroid Challenge, where the ball is controlled through a maze with a magnetic Wii Remote.
  • In Other M, Samus will still breathe heavily when she is in Morph Ball mode if her energy levels are critically low.
  • The Morph Ball makes a cameo appearance on the Geothermal Power Plant stage featured in Dead or Alive Dimensions, where Samus lays a Power Bomb when a sound is made in the microphone.
  • Metroid EX: Samus & Joey centers around Samus' fight to recover her stolen abilities, including the Morph Ball, which she finds on planet Maru. The name of this planet is a reference to the Morph Ball's original name in Metroid, Maru Mari.
  • In an Iwata Asks interview regarding Corruption, Kensuke Tanabe addressed the transition animation when un-morphing:
Originally, because Metroid Prime was an FPS game, the playable character was never seen on the screen. That's why we demanded they give the players the opportunity to have a good look at the character. We told them that, for example, when you turn into the Morph Ball, the camera should zoom back and show you Samus during the transformation. Even though it took a lot of effort, in the end, they managed to do it beautifully. However, at the time, if players wanted, they could skip this animation entirely. This may have been done in order to make the game play more efficiently, to save even a little bit of the player's time, but we felt, "If the player can just skip the animation, the original objective we gave you won't be fulfilled, will it?" This is why we requested they make the animation unskippable.

—Kensuke Tanabe

  • The Morph Ball, as well as Samus's tendency to use this technique, is indirectly alluded to in Animal Crossing: Wild World, where the character Gulliver, when mentioning that there were plenty of Bounty Hunters in space, alludes to one who can transform into a metal ball.
  • The Morph Ball ability is shown in a manga panel for the Japanese Super Metroid guide, which shows Samus in the position and humorously mentioning an uncontrollable urge to urinate.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Artwork[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ The Official Nintendo Player's Guide, page 53
  2. ^ Metroid Prime Hunters Logbook
  3. ^ Kerwin, Darren, RoyboyX. "Interview: Clark Wen", Shinesparkers, 2018-06-02. Retrieved on 2018-06-02. 
  4. ^ Colin Reed: "It was one artist just hammering away in the middle of the night. He comes to show us what he did, and we were like, "Oh that's cool, let's use that." (laughter) Then the effect just spreads off and starts getting used all over the place. Then we have to reel them back in and say, "Ok. No, he's using it too much." Nintendo World Report.
  5. ^ Sakurai, Masahiro (Sora_Sakurai). 11 September 2020 11:00 p.m. Tweet.

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