Time bomb set! Get out fast!
Countdowns are a common element of the Metroid series which is usually activated or triggered usually after an important boss battle or event. Countdowns are almost always activated by the boss or the main antagonist of the game and always involve a fatal occurrence of some sort. Occasionally in the series, a time limit will be implemented during boss fights such as the battle against Meta Ridley in Corruption and Dark Samus in Echoes.
The event is often an escape from a huge explosion or time bomb as in the side-scrolling Metroid installments. It can also consist of an imminent impact of an object. A setting that is very unstable and is about to collapse is very common in the Prime games, and a time limit is included in those conditions as well. Failure to escape from the threat often results in immediate death and failure of the mission.
The original Metroid featured the first countdown upon Mother Brain's defeat in the depths within planet Zebes. Samus then has 5.55 minutes to escape the region of Zebes, Tourian, and reach an elevator leading to the surface of Zebes. Samus's arrival to the surface marks the end of Metroid, where the earned ending is displayed and credits begin to roll. It serves as a sort of prologue in Super Metroid.
Metroid: Zero Mission
Metroid: Zero Mission features two countdowns: one mirroring the original Metroid ending and a second one upon defeating Mecha Ridley. Like the original Metroid, Samus must escape Tourian and reach Zebes's surface. This escape is much longer and more complicated than the original Metroid escape. Samus is given one minute on Hard Mode, 2 minutes on normal mode, and 3 minutes on easy mode to escape Tourian and reach her Gunship. Zero Mission, unlike Metroid, does not end upon Samus's escape from the planet. As Samus enters her starship and flies away from Zebes, she is chased down by Space Pirates and her ship is shot back down onto the planet. On the planet's surface she infiltrates the Space Pirate Mother Ship.
After exploring Space Pirate Mother Ship and retrieving her Legendary Power Suit, Samus faces a machine version of Ridley known as Mecha Ridley. Aside from being heavily armed, Mecha Ridley has a self-destruct device attached to it ready to set off when it is defeated. Samus activates the device when she defeats it, giving her three minutes in hard mode, four minutes in normal mode, or five minutes in easy mode to navigate the Space Pirate Mother Ship and Chozodia while Zebesians attempt to block her path. Samus escapes when she finds a Space Pirate ship to escape the Mother Ship.
Metroid Prime holds one timed sequence very early in the game. It occurs upon defeating the mutated Parasite, the Parasite Queen. As the creature is dying, it falls into the shaft of the Reactor Core of Frigate Orpheon, causing a nuclear instability. This soon causes the Frigate's fall from orbit. Samus must escape the exploding Orpheon and reach her gunship before Orpheon becomes critically damaged. Samus succeeds, though she loses many of her suit's abilities in the process, forcing her to recollect them later in her adventure.
Metroid Prime Hunters
Metroid Prime Hunters features the most countdowns at eight. Every time Samus obtains one of the eight Octoliths, Samus must make her way through the entire area back to where she landed her ship. The teleporters that lead back to the landing site will be disabled during these countdowns. Each area has its own special characteristics during the countdown.
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
The countdown in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes takes place immediately after Samus defeats the Emperor Ing and drains Dark Aether's final Energy Controller, causing the Dark Dimension to collapse from instability. She is given eight minutes to escape, but after using the Light-Based Teleportation System to exit the Sky Temple, her exit is blocked off by a wall of Phazon, preventing her escape. After carefully examining the area for the source, she finds that the Phazon was generated by Dark Samus who has become excessively supercharged with Phazon.
After Samus defeats Dark Samus by using her Phazon energy against her, she escapes via a nearby Light Portal, which takes her back to Light Aether.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Corruption is the only game in the series, other than Hunters, to contain more than two timed sequences. Additionally, not one of the three sequences contain a countdown timer. AU 242 informs Samus, however, whenever a checkpoint to a certain amount of time remains.
The first timed sequence occurs when Samus faces the returning Meta Ridley. In this occurrence, Samus and Meta Ridley are falling down an extremely deep Generator Shaft at an incredibly rapid velocity. Samus must defeat Meta Ridley before they impact the core of the shaft, which leads to imminent death. After defeating Meta Ridley, Rundas is able to locate and remove Samus from harm by pulling her back to the top of the shaft.
The second instance shortly follows the first on Norion as the first encountered Leviathan is headed straight toward Norion. Samus and the other hunters must reach and activate the Energy Cannon used to destroy the Leviathan while it hurls toward the planet. She manages to reach the Energy Cannon in time but along with the other Bounty Hunters, is confronted by Dark Samus, who nearly prevents their objective from being completed. Samus, fortunately, is able to activate the Energy Cannon before it is too late.
The final timed sequence occurs as Samus is aboard the Spire Pod equipped with the Theronian Bomb. After successfully thwarting Pirate efforts to destroy the bomb before it reaches the Elysian Leviathan's shield, Samus attempts to escape using the single Escape Pod on board. The pod, however, malfunctions and must be repaired. Samus has a limited amount of time to repair the pod using her recently acquired Plasma Beam and welding the broken machinery together. Samus, however, succeeds in escaping in time, landing the Escape Pod safely in SkyTown's Escape Pod Bay. If Samus is unable to escape, she is killed in the impact of the Theronian Bomb as it crashes into the Leviathan shield.
In the Ceres Space Colony, Ridley escapes with the Infant Metroid, prompting the self-destruct sequence to get activated. The station is destroyed as Samus escapes and tracks Ridley to Zebes. The Super Metroid escape sequence is very similar to the escape sequence in Metroid. After defeating Mother Brain with her newly acquired Hyper Beam, a time bomb is activated giving Samus three minutes to escape. With the Hyper Beam, she is able to destroy barriers and destroy the Space Pirates remaining in the facility with ease. She breaks out of Tourian into the early section of Crateria. She must then go to her ship, optionally freeing trapped Etecoons and Dachoras. After this countdown, Zebes is destroyed due to the power of the bomb.
Metroid: Other M
The Other M escape sequence occurs immediately after Samus obtains Adam's helmet from his suit. Samus escapes the exploding Bottle Ship in her Zero Suit(presumably because she had no time to reactivate her suit). As Samus traverses the crumbling Bottle Ship, she is attacked by various Zebesians, mirroring the Zero Mission escape sequence. Samus escapes by reaching her landed Gunship. This countdown is the only escape sequence not necessary to complete, as Other M ends upon defeating Queen Metroid and it is not necessary to continue.
The game has 3 countdowns in total. The first countdown occurs when an X mimicking a researcher causes to the Main Boiler to overheat, putting the whole station in jeopardy. Samus is given 6 minutes to reach the Main Boiler control room to stop the X. Later, Samus must escape the exploding Restricted Laboratory, in under one minute. Nearing the end of Fusion, Adam sends Samus to the Operations Room to send the B.S.L station toward SR388. After Samus arrives at the Operations Room and inputs the command, she has a set amount of time to reach her ship before the station impact with the planet. Aside from avoiding getting lost, Samus must face SA-X and finally the Omega Metroid. After defeating the Omega Metroid using Samus's former powers, Samus escapes the station safely with Etecoons and Dachora aboard her ship, the same species she saved in Super Metroid, though it is unknown if they are the same exact creatures.
- "We decided to build a device to recover our lost planetary energy from Dark Aether. Without this energy, the dark world would cease to be, and our world would be restored to stability." —Luminoth Lore "Recovering Energy" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Scans indicate that Dark Samus has absorbed tremendous levels of Phazon into her body: too much, perhaps. She can vent Phazon energy in the form of destructive blasts and protective shields: doing so will help her maintain stability." —Logbook (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)