Within the games, Zebetites are presented as transparent cylinder-shaped canisters held from the top and bottom by metal pipes from the surrounding environment. Their contents however are difficult to determine and differ in each appearance, including in official artwork.
A Zebetite is invulnerable to all of Samus' weapons except for Missiles and Super Missiles and requires a significant amount of ammo to destroy. Despite its glass-like surface, it will neither crack nor shatter when harmed but instead diminish in thickness until it collapses into itself. If Samus damages it without completely destroying it within a short time span, the Zebetite will trigger its regenerative ability and gradually thicken to its original state, which will force her to use up more of her ammunition.
Zebetites are stated to be an energy source for Mother Brain and therefore function as her life support system. They also serve as barriers due to their placement in the Zebesian Command Center; they physically impede Samus from reaching Mother Brain in every game they are featured in. The Zebetites' regenerative ability combined with the nearby Cannons and Rinkas that can interrupt Samus' missile barrages, make them an excellent defense system for the Space Pirate leader. Curiously, destroying the Zebetites does not seem to have any direct impact on Mother Brain despite being described as vital to her health.
In the Metroid manga, the Zebetites are shown as transparent, static walls with seemingly no material inside. They are dropped from the ceiling at will by Mother Brain whenever she's attacked. She states that they can deflect particles, rendering Samus' Power Beam useless.
A total of five Zeebetites are featured in the original game and are all exclusively found in Mother Brain's room. Inside them are red unknown masses stacked vertically, each with small red branches stretching out to the inner surface of the cylinder. Their American artwork shows each of these masses are sealed within smaller cylinders uniformly placed atop one another. The Japanese artwork presents the inner material as floating flame-like energy spheres loosely linked to each other.
The insides of a Zebetite resemble glowing, artery-like threads tangled around each other. Zebetites are far more numerous in this game and are seen throughout the later half of Tourian. There are seven within Mother Brain's chamber: four can be destroyed while the other three are in the structure directly below her and are invulnerable to all damage. All Zebetites outside of her room are placed behind walls, floors and ceilings and cannot be directly interacted with.
There is a group of green colored Zebetites only seen in the corridor at the front entrance of the Wrecked Ship. These Zebetites cannot be interacted with. They start to glow after power is returned to the vessel.
Only four Zebetites were brought back for the remake of the first Metroid game, once more located in the Pirate leader's room. Light pulses rapidly on a Zebetite's glass-like surface and within it is a purple vertical structure with yellow particles flowing erratically around it. Overall, the appearance of its content seems more technological than the vaguely organic look from prior games. The rate of their regenerative ability has been vastly increased, making it the fastest in the entire series thus far.
Captain N: The Game Master
In the episode Metroid, Sweet Metroid, she managed to trick the N-Team into thinking "Power Flowers" (really ordinary flowers) fueled her and Metroid, so they cut off the supply of flowers. Believing that Mother Brain was shut down for good, Kevin warped back home, which ended up leading to a fake replica of his town within Metroid. When Kevin was captured, Mother Brain said she had "enough Zeebetite powered crystals to power Videoland ten times over," confirming that it was Zeebetite and not Power Flowers that provided her energy source.
After that incident, the N-Team has tried to sabotage shipments of the Zeebetite on a few occasions in the Nintendo Comics System, specifically during Money Changes Everything. Shots from Kevin's Zapper are said to bounce off the Zeebetite (similar to the later manga interpretation of it), while Samus states that only her missiles can affect it.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Destructible barrels resembling Zebetites appear in some Bryyo Thorn Jungle hallways in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Much like Zebetites, these diminish in thickness when fired at; however these variants do not regenerate, and will respawn once Samus leaves the rooms in which they are found, unlike the Zebetites encountered in the 2D games. According to Matt Manchester's design notes, these barrels were designed as a variation of the Zebetites in order to establish greater continuity with Space Pirate technology in previous games.
In the same game, a different structure containing a Ship Missile Expansion which diminishes in thickness when shot at can be found in the Processing Access room on the Pirate Homeworld. The Scan Visor identifies the walls of the structure as a force field.
"This energy source is vital for keeping Mother Brain alive. It is no more than a life-supporting system and therefore won't attack, but it must be destroyed and only missiles will do the job. One missile blast is not enough. Other weapons are harmless against it. You have to keep throwing missiles or it will simply come to life again."
"This is Mother Brain’s energy source. It can be destroyed with continuous missile attacks."
- Zapping the Zebetites (page 70)
- "You'll need to task out these barriers while avoiding the Zebetites if you're to make it to Mother Brain."
Matt Manchester design notes
"These hallways were designed to have destructible barrels throughout that you could shoot to damage enemies with. I wanted to tie in Space Pirate tech from earlier games, so I made them a variation of the "zebetites" from the first metroid, which were the collapsing canisters you had to shoot through to get to Mother Brain at the end of the game."
- The ability to self-regenerate along with the unknown material inside may suggest the Zebetite is a form of living tissue.
- Due to the Chozo having used the Wrecked Ship to land on planet Zebes long ago, it is likely that the green Zebetites inside the vessel were the first of their kind. It is unknown if they were used as power sources like their modern red variant.
- In Metroid and Super Metroid, a certain minimum of Missile and Super Missile expansions need to be collected in order to consecutively destroy all the Zebetites (as well as Mother Brain herself in the former game). This is due to the Zebesian Command Center in both games having no form of missile drops to replenish ammunition, forcing players to leave the room (or the entire area of Tourian, depending on the game) if they need to refill, without taking into consideration the possible loss of ammo caused by the Zebetites' self-regeneration and/or the other security defenses.
- Although the Rinkas in Zero Mission drop ammo when destroyed, it does little to alleviate the difficulty of a low % run in Mother Brain's chamber due to the Zebetites' much faster regeneration.
- There is an unintended exploit in Super Metroid that allows players to reach Mother Brain without destroying any Zebetites.
- The Zebetite's pulsing light and inner yellow particles in Zero Mission gives it a somewhat unstable, static-like appearance. This may be based on its manga counterpart where they are presented as static walls.
- The theme of Mother Brain in Metroid and Zero Mission is called "Zebetite" on the Super Metroid: Sound in Action and Game Sound Museum ~ Famicom Edition ~ 12 Metroid CDs.
- Zebetite does not appear in the enemy list in Super Metroid Nintendo Player's Guide.
- Dan Owsen compared the appearance of the substance inside Zebetite tubes to raspberry jam.
- It is quite possible that Zebetite was in the vastly unexplored Sector Zero of the BOTTLE SHIP, a Metroid propagation area modelled after Tourian. However, unlike the Rinkas and Ring Beam Units (similar to Cannons) that were seen elsewhere on the BOTTLE SHIP, there is no encountered Zebetite or variant in Metroid: Other M.
|Hazardous||Acid (Beta/Fake) • Acid Rain • Afloraltite • Dark Water • Fire • Fuel Gel • Lava (Fake/Scalding-hot) • Phazon • Purple liquid|
|Gases||Dark vapor • Industrial-grade pesticide • Meta-viprium gas • Nohadin gas • Noxious gasses • Poison gas • Talvania Gas|
|Destructible||Barnacle-like material • Bendezium • Brinstone • Cordite • Denzium • Frigidite • Glass • Grobnite • Ice • Maldium • Meltable Metal • Metroid webs • Radion • Sandstone • Talloric Alloy • Vegetation • Zebetite |
Kelbium and Zafrite
|Phazon||Red • Crystal • Black Crystal • Mass • Ore • Elite Nutrient Mix • Strain Vertigo • Phazite (Red) • Concentrated|
|Crystals||Ammolite/Witherite Shards • Black Phazon • Crystallized Fuel Gel • Crystals • Dark Sentinel • Lift • Liftvine • Light • Minerals • Phazon • Red magma • Sentinel|
|Ore||Urthic • Phazon|
|Miscellaneous||Invisible platform • Jovian steel • Liquid Resource • Liquid solution • Sand |
Vaccine "Metroid" • Waste • Water • Yellow goo • Yellow liquid