During the recent reveal of Metroid Dread, longtime fans were excited to see some familiar-looking supercomputers. Planet ZDR’s “Central Units” bear more than a passing resemblance to Mother Brain, the final boss of many past games. But is this just an homage, or a hint at what’s to come? Producer Yoshio Sakamoto says that Dread will wrap up the story of the Metroids and the 2D series thus far. It would certainly be appropriate for Mother Brain to be involved in the grand finale, but is there a good story reason? Let’s dig deep into the lore!
The Metroid manga
The games themselves have relatively little to say about Mother Brain, but we can look elsewhere. While developing Zero Mission, a remake of the first game, Nintendo commissioned an official Metroid manga to flesh out the backstory of Samus, Metroids, the Chozo, and Mother Brain. It’s absolutely full of important details, and it was intended to be canon to the games.
It’s important to keep in mind that Sakamoto and his team have always been flexible with the canon. They’re no strangers to retconning past games and manuals, so new in-game info should always trump older details. But games made after the manga have also made references to its established lore, so they do take it seriously. Both the manga and Samus Returns give an origin story for the Metroids, so I wanted to see if they can be harmonized. As it turns out, they can, and doing so brings up some interesting possibilities for the future of Mother Brain.
The origin of Metroids
In the Chozo Memories of Samus Returns, we learn that Chozo came to SR388 for research. They initially had great success, discovering Aeion Energy. But soon after, they were attacked by the deadly X Parasites. They created Metroids to counteract the X, and for a while, this worked perfectly. Then, unexpectedly, the Metroids began to change into new forms. Worse, they became extremely aggressive, attacking their Chozo handlers. The Chozo eventually abandoned the settlement, sealing off the tunnels of the planet’s underground. But as they reached the surface, they found another group of Chozo waiting for them. Rather than rescuing them, these new arrivals murdered their comrades in cold blood. More on that later.
The manga agrees that Metroids were created on SR388 as the antithesis of X parasites, and it establishes a timeline for these events. It also clarifies that the Chozo on SR388 are from Zebes. It seems Metroids were first created around the time Samus was 3 years old, but they were in an inactive state. The Chozo needed a tremendous amount of energy to awaken them. They finally succeed in this effort, creating the very first active Metroid “a few years” before the beginning of the first game. But by the time the first game actually kicks off, SR388 is a dead planet, totally ravaged by dozens of grown Metroids. In other words, the last few Chozo Memories, in which the Metroids attacked, must take place during these few years before Zero Mission. And that finally brings us to Mother Brain.
The Chozo created Mother Brain as part of their grand plan to bring peace and order to the universe. The revolutionary bio-computer was given access to all of the knowledge of the Chozo, making her an ultimate source of information. She even played a key role in the early days of the Galactic Federation, serving as its “heart” and helping organize Federation operations. But over time, her thought process began to evolve. Mother Brain came to view the Federation as ineffective at its goal, and the Chozo as obsolete. “A few years before” Zero Mission, she joined forces with the Space Pirates to try to wipe out the Chozo of planet Zebes.
This happened at the exact same the Chozo successfully activated the very first Metroid. In other words, the Chozo Memories about Metroids going berserk on planet SR388… must have happened shortly after Mother Brain betrayed the Chozo on Zebes. That doesn’t feel like a coincidence to me. After all, the SR388 research team was from Zebes. Surely she had a plan for their demise as well!
But does the in-game evidence allow for this? Metroid Fusion shows us that SR388’s climate is what caused the Metroids to change form. However, the manga also established that Mother Brain did much of the work in designing Metroids for the Chozo. They were shocked when the Metroids began to change, but that doesn’t mean Mother Brain was. It’s entirely possible that she planned for them to attack their handlers. But ultimately, it wasn’t the Metroids that exterminated the Chozo on SR388. It was an evil faction of Chozo.
And this brings us back to Metroid Dread. As I’ve discussed in a previous article, I believe this faction will be key to the upcoming Switch game. Planet ZDR is littered with Chozo statues, and we even see a living Chozo in the trailer. Meanwhile, the development history trailer featured Chozo artwork that seems to depict the same massacre as Samus Returns. But this planet also features multiple “Central Units” that are clearly variations on Mother Brain. Could the real thing be hiding somewhere on ZDR?
While it’s far from certain, I think this is a distinct possibility. The Central Units seem to each be in control of one region of ZDR, so it would make sense for there to be a truly central computer linking them all together. In fact, we see something similar in the manga. Mother Brain is stored in her central tank, but she has drones in other areas of Zebes, and boy do they look familiar. Check out the above image showing a Mother Brain drone side by side with a Central Unit.
Completing the story
But why would Mother Brain team up with Chozo after previously betraying them? It actually makes perfect sense. It’s not that she hated the Chozo or loved the Space Pirates. In fact, she rather insultingly declares the latter to be a species genetically incapable of leading themselves. She also originally planned to let Gray Voice, the most strategic of the Chozo, join her. She even tried to get Samus on board with her evil plans. It’s not about loyalties with Mother Brain. She evaluates everyone like a tool, and the warlike Space Pirates were simply better suited for her plans than the peaceful Chozo.
But what if she could have the best of both worlds? If there’s still a faction of warlike Chozo out there somewhere, they would provide her with both brains and brawn. And seeing as she was monitoring SR388, she likely saw these warriors in action. What’s to stop her from contacting them? In fact, it’s even possible that she summoned them in the first place. An earlier scene in the manga shows a handful of Chozo from all over the universe being summoned to Zebes for a council meeting. She could be in communication with any number of far-off Chozo factions. Sending her blueprints and code to one of them would be the perfect backup plan in the event of her destruction.
Between the Federation, E.M.M.I.s, and evil Chozo, Metroid Dread has a lot of exciting elements to juggle. So maybe it’s greedy to hope for Mother Brain as well. But at the conclusion of the ongoing Metroid story, it would make sense for their creator to have one last hurrah. The potential plot points are all there, but it’s up to Sakamoto and MercurySteam to run with them. October can’t come soon enough!
All manga images courtesy of Metroid Recon.