Metroid: Dread diary 11

Ferenia presents an immediate impression of increased challenge. The place has a different look about it. Instead of the industrial science lab type environments and natural caves that we’ve been through so far, this place looks regal, with statues and fine furnishings. It looks like the sort of place where a seat of government might be founded.

The other thing that I notice is that this place seems to be designed to be a challenge to get around in. Immediately there are tests of my skill with the grapple beam, spider magnet, morph ball, and dash moves. It’s like the designers want to make sure you’re ready for what’s coming ahead. I expect something major.

From the elevator pad, I have to grapple beam to the ceiling, then swing over to ledge grab and then morph ball into a narrow tunnel, where I emerge into a small room. A ripsaw generator activates and starts raining blades down towards me, but they arc over my head as long as I stay close to the left wall. There’s magnet panels on this wall, which I can use to climb up to the next platform, where the ripsaw generator is. Above this, I see a partial E-tank, which I don’t think I can get to. Maybe if I had the Space Jump ability, and could repeatedly leap in mid-air, or maybe if I could bomb-boost up from the floor. But there’s not much chance of that working with the ripsaws disrupting me about midway up. I only need one more E-tank part to earn a 5th tank, but after a few attempts to wall-jump, I decide it’s futile and give up for now.

Proceeding to the left, just past the ripsaw generator, there’s a pressure-switch door, which I have to use the dash move to get through. This isn’t difficult, I’ve encountered these doors enough by now that it’s not really a problem, but the added presence of the ripsaw generator just in front of it makes it seem like whoever built this place really didn’t want just anyone to be able to get through here.

Past the door, there’s a mostly empty room, with these small flying machines milling about aimlessly. These things are pretty harmless, though tough, being armored against regular blaster shots, but a missile takes them out and they tend to drop a lot of pickups. There’s a tunnel-sized gap in the floor of the room, and when I slide into it, the floor gives way and I drop into a new chamber.

Here, we transition to cutscene. Samus looks around and sees a wall mural which looks very reminiscent of ancient Egyptian art, but it appears to depict a Chozo. Suddenly, we’re not alone, and I’m attacked by a purple EMMI. It takes me by surprise and before I can do anything I’m captured. The EMMI doesn’t kill me, though, and suddenly freezes as an elder-looking Chozo appears, who introduces himself as Quiet Robe. That’s a weird name for an alien to have, I think. Quiet Beak explains a bit about recent history, and we get a brief re-telling of the Metroid lore from the point of view of the Chozo. Quiet Beak is the last remaining member of a tribe of Chozo scientists called the Thoha. There’s a warrior tribe of Chozo, called the Mawkin, and their leader, Raven Beak, is the one who has been responsible for whatever has been going on with the Metroid species and the X-Parasite. Togethre they were going to destroy planet SR388, the planet from the original Metroid, in order to put an end to the Metroid, who were too dangerous to allow to survive. But Raven Beak had other ideas. The Mawkin and were going to use the Metroid as a bio-weapon, so Raven Beak did “something extreme” and I guess that means some kind of power coup and takeover. The Mawkin were then infected by X-parasites, and Raven Beak was barely able to contain the infections. But then in the meantime Samus eradicated the Metroids, and ruined the Mawkin plans. Or something. So now, Raven Beak wants the last remaining Metroid DNA in the universe, which is in Samus, and needs to extract it, presumably to resurrect the extinct species and resume his plans to use them to dominate the galaxy. It’s all pretty complicated and involved and remembering all these details probably isn’t terribly necessary. It’s just backstory and lore. It’s all in subtitles, spoken in Chozo, and a lot to read and remember while I’m trying to watch the cutscene. But considering that I’m about to die about 20 times, I can pick up more of the details on subsequent re-watches. I still don’t get how the Mother Brain was involved in all this, or where Ridley and Kraid came into the picture, or anything. But it comes down to this: Raven Beak must be stopped, and Samus is the only one who has any chance of doing it. Quiet Robe informs me that he has opened up a route through Burenia, that I’ll need to go through in order to face Raven Beak.

Just then, Raven Beak(?) enters, kills Quiet Robe, and now I’m trapped in the room with this powerful enemy, who I must face right now. Where did the purple EMMI go? I have no idea. I’m not sure how to fight Raven Beak. He’s fast, powerful, aggressive, and attacks a lot. The attacks do a ton of damage, and after about 5 or 6 hits, I’m dead.

I give the fight a few more tries, but each time I get wrecked quickly, clearly outclassed. I try to learn Raven Beak’s patterns. He shoots blue energy balls, he has a charge shot attack, and a melee rush attack, which looks like I probably have to melee counter, but the timing is very, very tight, and I haven’t managed to do it. Any of his attacks takes me down about an E-tank’s worth of health. My regular blaster doesn’t seem to do any harm, so it’s missiles and charge beams. I could maybe try bombs, too, but I’m so awkward and slow in morph ball mode, it doesn’t seem like a good strategy.

I try going toe-to-toe and shoot as many missiles as I can, and not worry about dodging, but I die no less quickly. I try dodging, and running away, trying to get shots in when I get an opportunity, same thing. I try melee counters, but I can’t pull it off.

I decide I’m not ready for this fight yet, and go back, leave Ferenia, and return to Dairon. I explore Dairon a bit, and find a few secrets. I manage to pick up another partial E-tank, which makes 4/4, and boosts my health. I also find 2 or 3 missile containers. I note that there’s an area where I haven’t explored yet, the frigid zone that became inaccessible to me after I activated the second power generator. And there’s a locked-off corridor to what looks like another elevator to somewhere. I need to move a magnet block to access it, and I have the grapple beam, but I’m on the wrong side of it. So this elevator must be a return point from somewhere else.

There are a few additional items that I have found but still cannot get. There’s missile containers and an energy tank that seem to be encased in solid rock, with no way to access them that I can figure out. I must not have some weapon that is needed to break through the wall at these points, but I can’t even see what type of block is required. And in one room, there’s an item that I don’t recognize, but am guessing it is the power bomb, or a power bomb container. It’s locked away behind power bomb blocks, or whatever it is, you need to already have it to break through the blocks to get this one. So I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get that.

After exploring Dairon and picking up what I can, I now have 599 health and over 80 missiles. I try going back to Ferenia, but the outcome is no different than before. Raven Beak just kicks my ass, and I barely manage to do anything against him. I’ll have to figure this out, but unless it’s just a skill and tactics gap, it seems I’m just too weak to try to take him on yet. There must be some way to deal with his attacks that I haven’t figured out yet.

I go back and try again, and this time I’m able to pull off the melee counter move. Doing this spawns a bunch of health pickups and some missiles, which of the two I mostly need the health. I only manage to get the melee counter to work one time, though, and I’m still not good at dodging the other attacks, and he mixes them up enough that I’m off-balance and get hit too much, and die again. But I’m encouraged.

I try three or four more times, and die pretty quickly, missing the melee counter more often than not. Finally, though, I manage to do it. I only get the melee counter to work once, and right when I’m about to take the last hit I can withstand, I decide to try to dodge Raven Beak’s shots and get some space between us, just to extend my life for a few more seconds.

It turns out, this was all I really needed to do. I manage to doge, jump over my enemy, and run to the other end of the screen. A couple more lucky dodges, and I’m able to counter-attack, and wouldn’t you know it, two or three missiles later, I’ve defeated this enemy. Wow, that was a tough fight!

The dying boss drops a bunch of health and missiles, what looks like a small cloud of them, but before I see them come to me, we’re back into cutscene mode. I learn from this that the foe I just vanquished was not Raven Beak, as I had supposed, but merely a robot Chozo soldier.

It seems like the next thing to do is return to Burenia, but before I can do that, I need to get out of here. There’s a door to the right, where I enter a room where there’s a magnetic wall for me to climb, leading to a morph ball tunnel. I go through it, and find my progress blocked by one of those giant fans, like I had run into before in Burenia. I still can’t figure out how to get past this fan. I go back down and the only other way to progress is to the right, through an EMMI zone door. (It’s weird that the EMMI zones are demarcated like this, isn’t it? It makes the cat-and-mouse aspect of the game confined to these regions, which puts you in control and removes a lot of the fear. If the EMMI were free-range rovers, and could stalk you anywhere until you dealt with them, how much more difficult and scary would the game have been?) Immediately through the EMMI door, I find the room where I encountered the purple EMMI, who is still there, but deactivated and stands in the middle of the room like a statue. Further to the right, behind the wall the purple EMMI broke through when it attacked me, there’s a tunnel leading up, but there’s no way for me to get to it. The tunnel is also blocked by an “EMMI valve” block, which it seems is the game’s way of making it clear that it’s a tunnel I’m not meant to pass through.

So how, then, am I supposed to get out of here? I look everywhere, I check the map, I use all my powers every way I can think to, and nothing seems to work. I’m stuck again. For now.

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