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The creature's insect-like appearance is a large departure from its prior and well-known larval form. This metamorphosis will only occur if a Larva Metroid is inhabiting its homeworld of SR388, or a replica of it. From this stage onward in the species' life cycle, a Metroid can no longer be frozen with the Ice Beam, but can be killed with Missiles regardless. After an unknown period of time, the Alpha Metroid will grow into a Gamma Metroid.
An Alpha Metroid molts from the topside of a Larva Metroid's translucent membrane. The development has granted it new physical features: two blue compound eyes, a central horn, two small tusks, four budding limbs and a plated exoskeleton growing along the dorsal region. The Metroid now resembles an arthropod, and the species' characteristic membrane and red nucleus are now located on its underbelly.
The remake Metroid: Samus Returns has made slight alterations to the Alpha Metroid's appearance. A leech-like mouth has been added between its two compound eyes, the latter which are now red. The tusks and horn now function as an additional set of fangs for the new oral cavity. Similarly, it also added two versions of the Alpha Metroid: One, colored neon blue, simply discharges electrical charges of varying sorts; and the other, covered in what appears to be moss or green fur, has them discharging orange plasma.
Absent nuclei Edit
Unlike Larva Metroids which possess four nuclei within their large membranes, Alpha Metroids' have a single nucleus housed in their smaller membranes; it is unknown what becomes of the other three during the metamorphosis. However, due to the fact that a larva leaves nothing but an empty torn membrane when it becomes an Alpha Metroid, it can be logically assumed that the missing nuclei, along with the larva's fangs and muscle tissue, were re-purposed into creating the organism's new body (similar to stem cells). The remaining nucleus is carried within a new membrane for the rest of the Metroid's life cycle.
Coincidentally, Alpha Metroids and all subsequent forms can no longer be frozen but are readily susceptible to concussive weaponry, contrary to Larva Metroids' near invulnerability unless exposed to cold temperatures. This disparity in defensive strength may be determined by the number of nuclei present on their bodies. As for their newfound immunity to the Ice Beam, it is likely a result of the exoskeleton they develop as they grow.
In Return of Samus, the Alpha Metroid has very basic and straightforward movements, so it does not pose any large threat. Five Missiles will take this creature down. Its only means of attack is ramming, as it lacks the life energy drain of its predecessor, making it one of the weakest stages of a Metroid's natural life cycle.
The creature can perform new attacks in Samus Returns. They will make large swooping motions in an attempt to ram Samus, which can be parried with her Melee Counter and leave it open for damage. The Alpha Metroids can sometimes deploy a thin layer of electricity or fire over themselves before conducting their ramming maneuvers. They will also drop harmful electrical or flaming spheres from their membranes, the former which Samus can destroy for pickups, and the latter producing a line of fire on impacting with the ground. These electric-based traits are seemingly a precursor to the Gamma Metroid's more extensive control over the element.
The creature is also much more durable in Samus Returns; the first Alpha takes 10 missiles to kill, and subsequent Alphas can withstand up to 15 missiles. In addition, it's shell is no longer a hitbox and will cause missiles to harmlessly bounce off. However, the Metroid now takes damage from Ice Beam shots, with a charged shot freezing its underbelly and stunning it briefly.
"This the [sic] shape of a Metroid after its first molting."
- Alpha Metroid (p. 21)
- "While Alpha Metroids may be the first “true” evolutionary form of the Metroid family, they’re not as frightening as most Metroids you run into. We label this stage the “awkward teenage years” of the Metroid maturity chain. They feature more attacks than your standard Metroid larva, but their growing carapace means they’re much slower and less aggressive than their younger cousins. They do receive a boost in defensive ability, so the Ice Beam-and-missile trick is no longer viable. That doesn’t mean they’re immune to these weapons, not by a long shot. However, don’t expect to dispatch an Alpha as quickly as you would a Metroid larva. With Alphas and all following Metroid evolutions, you’ve gotta work for your fights."
- Mochtroids, which are defective clones of Metroids created by Space Pirates, also possess a single nucleus. It is much smaller than an Alpha Metroid's however.
- In Metroid Prime, there is a Tallon Metroid designated as Metroid: Alpha Type, despite not having any relation to an actual Alpha Metroid.