Shinesparkers Feature:

Room By Room

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Metroid is a significant franchise with over a dozen games, when the 2D and Prime series are combined. The worlds are rich and full of alien life, history, architecture, lore and culture, all divided into approximately 1,624 rooms as of November 2021.

In our Community Spotlight on Wikitroid, I touched on a long-term project I’ve been undertaking: helping to document every single room in the Metroid series on the wiki, in articles listing all rooms by area, and separate pages for the most notable rooms. Full documentation had been achieved for the Prime series by 2010; with every room in Metroid Prime, Echoes, Corruption and Hunters receiving an article. The fact that the Prime series had names for all rooms when highlighted on the map made this task so much easier.

Chambers in 2D Metroid games were given pages on a case by case basis, such as specific rooms named onscreen in Metroid: Other M, or any that had proper, or “descriptive” names, in strategy guides, comics and other sources. Because there were few articles for 2D Metroid rooms, I felt that Wikitroid, as an archive of the Metroid series, had a significant gap in its knowledge and coverage. I wanted to resolve that, and shine a light on an often overlooked pillar of the franchise. Cataloging every room would mean people could look them up and use them as references when playing through the games, speedrunning or discovering more about Metroid.

Wikitroid’s community has always preferred official names over “descriptive”, especially generic ones. For example, in Other M, there is a long corridor before the room where Samus fights the Brug Mass, and where Adam later gives orders. In the strategy guide, this is called the “long hall”, which could easily be applied to any of a number of corridors in Other M, other Metroid games, or any game or movie.

This norm against descriptive names, later codified into wiki policy, meant that I’d receive pushback when using them sometimes. For a long time we were not allowed to use unofficial names either, meaning that the “N00b bridge” could not be called that. Eventually, I pushed for, and successfully passed a policy allowing articles to be created with unofficial names. Now editors could use names like N00b bridge, without having to move heaven and earth looking for a decent name in an old strategy guide! I began the months-long process of creating articles for rooms in Other M.

However, there was disagreement among some Wikitroid editors with using names I made up, and thought that rooms shouldn’t receive an article unless they were directly named like the ones in Prime, which most of them weren’t. An almost year-long Request for Comment (RfC), a public forum for wiki users to vote on proposals, ensued. Some felt that aside from the naming issue, there needed to be controls on which rooms were notable enough for articles. Initially, they wanted to assimilate many of them onto large lists summarizing all rooms. While I was fine with summing up smaller rooms on lists, I opposed cramming the biggest ones onto them.

RfCs can be likened to amateur politics. When people vote on a proposal for the wiki, it allows for a broad discussion of ideas, and is a positive method of achieving progress, assuming there’s an agreement of course. After some deliberation, Wikitroid decided to put in place a policy on room articles: the most notable rooms would get articles, and any that were too small (i.e. a generic buffer corridor between two larger rooms, or repetitive rooms like Save Stations) would be summarized on lists.

With the RfC resolved, I resumed my work on Other M rooms, and finished documenting them in July 2020. It was quite the undertaking, and I did it entirely by myself. It helped that I had encouragement from team members on Shinesparkers, as well as Samus Aran herself, Jessica Martin! While we were recording her episode of the podcast, my documenting all of Other M’s rooms came up, and she thought it was an amazing achievement. Some other Wikitroid editors and people who know me in the broader Metroid community were also impressed by my dedication to the project. This taught me an important life lesson that it’s always important to stand your ground for something you believe is right.

Since the RfC concluded, I have also fully documented all rooms in Metroid and Metroid: Zero Mission, and nearly all rooms in Super Metroid. Many more remain undocumented, in Metroid II: Return of Samus and Metroid: Samus Returns, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread and Metroid Prime: Federation Force. For a long time, the exception to the Prime series rooms was the Oubliette, where none of those chambers were covered. This is because the game does not name them on the map, until November 2021, when I created a list of the first six rooms, and articles for both rooms in which Gorea is fought.

Pushing ahead with this project had many benefits I hadn’t anticipated. In going back over previous games with wiser eyes, I uncovered many details I had never noticed before: shortcuts not mentioned in strategy guides, commonalities between rooms like wall panels or flowers, creatures in the background, and faster routes for Sequence Breaking.

Covering area by area meant that I knew each game by heart, and it came in handy this summer, when some of my friends in the Shinesparkers team were playing through the series in anticipation of Dread. I was able to use my enhanced knowledge of the original Metroid’s map, as a result of cataloging its rooms, to guide them through the game and achieve the best ending.

It has also been fascinating to compare the architecture of the worlds in Metroid. Most environments are untouched by humans, allowing for more creativity in world design. Beautiful Chozo temples in Dread, fiery pits of hell in Super Metroid, Phazon-infested tunnels and pitfalls in Metroid Prime 3, and a mirror world in Metroid Prime 2.

Aside from covering them on wiki, sometimes it’s been lovely to stop my playthrough in a room and be in the moment. I have fond memories of coming home after a stressful day of school, loading up Metroid Prime Trilogy on my Wii and then basking in Metroid Prime’s Landing Site. As the first room on Tallon IV, it puts you at ease by presenting a relaxing environment with rainfall, puddles and ferns to run through. I’d spend hours sitting in my chair with my eyes closed, listening to the rainfall and imagining I was really in the Tallon Overworld. As Samus, I would run into the water pool in the Landing Site and morph, like I was a crab in its shell. I’d hop around on the ledges, roll through the tunnel with the Missile Expansion, and act like a kid in a jungle gym. It’s truly one of my favorite locations in gaming. It makes me wish for a feature in Metroid Prime 4 where you can sit in a spot and bask in the scenery.

The most boring environments had to be those on the Bottle Ship; as a space colony built for humans it was always going to have the least impressive architecture. Most of the three “natural environment” sectors were simulated mirages that could be dispelled by turning off the generator powering them or simply walking into a wall, to be met by a field of static electricity. I might as well tape CDs to my wall and consider them portholes on a cruise ship.

The rooms in the Metroid series have long been one of my favorite aspects of it. Every corridor, alcove, chamber, It feels like I’m a virtual archaeologist excavating a hidden world, one room article or section at a time. The next time you play a Metroid game, see if you can’t spot anything cool in one of the rooms – who knows, you might find something I didn’t!

Written by RoyboyX