Elevators are a common transportation method built into developed areas or spacecraft. Very few inhabited locations do not feature them heavily as an access between areas or within levels of a single location.
Elevators vary in design and method of propulsion. The 2D games featured slow floating panels that lowered and raised Samus along narrow tunnels. The elevators on planet Tallon IV use a traditional rail/pulley system. The elevators of Aether are much faster, utilizing a jet booster to launch the pads down and upwards at high speeds. In Metroid: Other M, the elevators are more like modern ones.
Another varying aspect of elevators is the method of activation. Some require the user to simply step on them then use the Up or Down key commands, as do the elevators of Zebes or the ones on the Biologic Space Laboratories research station. In the first two games in the Prime Series, Samus must scan a nearby terminal to project a hologram. Upon entering this hologram, the elevator will activate. In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, there are several different ways to activate elevators. These include the use of Hand Scanners, touch-screen terminals, the Grapple Lasso and the old Scanning method. In Other M, elevators activate immediately when Samus steps into them.
In Other M, at one point Samus has to cause a broken elevator to fall and crush a Ghalmanian, simultaneously clearing her path. It's also possible for the elevator to crush Samus and kill her if she doesn't get into one of the alcoves built in the sides of the room within a certain time limit. Later, Samus also has to use a Kinetic Orb Cannon to bust through the floor of another broken elevator and progress.
- Somehow, elevators will automatically "follow" Samus to whatever floor she is on, regardless if she used them or not.
- In Metroid: Zero Mission, there is seemingly an elevator shaft connecting between Brinstar and Crateria, but there is no actual elevator. Instead, Samus gains access between the two areas by launching upwards using a Morph Ball launcher, or simply dropping down.
- Even more curiously, an elevator is somehow present here in Super Metroid.
- In the Sanctuary Fortress of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, during the second battle with Dark Samus, the Phazon clone manually activates an elevator that would normally require scanning by pounding on it with the back of her fist, which suggests that Samus merely prefers to activate them through scanning.
- Currently, Metroid II: Return of Samus is the only linear game that does not feature any elevators.