Cataris, normally a fiery place, is cool. I proceed from the elevator through the caves, blocked in most directions and only able to make progress along one route. This takes me directly to the best boss fight I’ve had yet.
This boss is like a giant version of the first boss in Artaria, the Corpius. The Artaria Corpius must have been a juvenile, or something, because this one is gargantuan. It is so big it fills the screen as though it were the background.
I die on it a bunch of times, but each time I learn a little bit about its attacks and figure out how to dodge and counter them.
During its first phase, it has two attacks: a breath of superheated plasma, and claw swipes. The claw swipes always come two at a time, but sometimes it’s left first, sometimes it’s right first. To evade them you need to use the Space Jump to stay above the ground. The swipes come in a very wide arc, and from the side the attack comes from, the damage zone fills the entire screen from top to bottom, diminishing in a parabola-like arc to the opposite bottom corner. It’s easiest to dodge if you’re on the opposite side of the screen as the attack is coming from, and move toward the side it came from so that you’ll be in position to be well above the second swipe. The hardest thing is being in a good position to start, and recognizing when the attack is coming.
The other attack mode, the plasma breath, is very difficult to dodge. The beast starts at either the left or right side of the room, and slowly paints the floor with plasma. The floor gets coated with a residue that does damage if you’re on the floor. You can’t really get over the beast’s head, because its hitbox will do you damage if you try, and the plasma beam is solid from mouth to the floor, so there’s no way to get through it without taking damage. The way to avoid the attack is to stay in front of the oncoming plasma beam, and then wait for the beast to pause for a very brief inhale. You can use this time to hit him with Storm Missiles. Then, in the split second when he’s re-charging for a second plasma shot to fill the rest of the room from where he left off to the opposite corner, you can use a jump, then flash shift to get past the danger zone, and land on an empty patch on the floor where you’ll be safe. Again, once you’re safe on the floor you can target and send another volley of Storm Missiles at the head, or you can hit him with individual, aimed shots from the ice missile if you don’t have time to charge up the Storm Missiles.
Like the other bosses, any of these hits will inflict mega damage on Samus, such that you can only survive maybe 4-5 hits before dying from full health. So you really can’t afford to make any mistakes.
After dealing enough damage, the creature enters a new attack mode, where it brings its head down closer to the floor, and turns sideways, and then streams plasma breath from ceiling to floor in an arc. This is a pattern attack, not directly aimed at you, and so you can easily avoid it, while launching volleys of Storm Missiles at the head. The safe spot to stand in during this attack is below the beast’s chin — it stops the plasma beam just short of where you’ll be standing if you are close enough. This puts you in danger of it biting you, but this is what you’re waiting for. As soon as the monster stops emitting plasma breath, get ready for a melee counter. Watch for the spark, and then hit X when you see it. This will enter you into a Grab phase, during which you can do a huge amount of damage. Mash the missile button and hit it with everything you got, while you ride the beast for as long as you can. Eventually you’ll be thrown back into the room, but if you’re good you can probably pour on a good 20-30+ missiles during this sequence.
When you’re back in the room, standing on the floor again, get ready. Either the monster will come at you with a left-right swipe combo, followed by a double swipe from both sides, or it will latch onto the walls and ceiling with its tentacles, to ready a new attack. If it does the tentacle wall grab, target each tentacle with Storm Missiles and hit them all, and this will disrupt its attack.
It will then go into a new attack mode, a wind-based attack where its plasma breath will shot walls of plasma at you from right to left, coating the left wall with damaging hot plasma residue. You have to run to the right and Space Jump over the plasma that’s flying towards you. This feels a great deal like Flappy Bird, so if you’ve spent some time playing Flappy Bird, you’ll be in good condition to dodge this fire. Toward the end of this attack, you’ll need to run on the ground using the super speed boost to keep the wind from blowing you into the wall.
Finally, you’ll get one more opportunity to melee counter into a Grab sequence, and you can finish it off.
The monster probably killed me about a dozen times before I did it in, but each time I got a little bit deeper into the fight, and made observations and adjustments that gave me a tangible sense of progress. I felt challenged but not frustrated as a result, and really enjoyed this fight. It was my most enjoyable boss fight of the game thus far, and might be the best one in the game — we’ll see. The developers did a fantastic job with this one, and I salute them.
After defeating this boss, I reactivate the thermal pumps that restore heat to the whole of Planet ZDR. It seems like the easiest path offered is to loop right back to the elevator to Artaria. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to go that way or not, but the whole world is open to me right now. I see a lot of flashing areas on the map for Cataris that indicate secrets, and there’s lava filled areas that I couldn’t explore previously because I didn’t have the Gravity Suit. There’s also a few missile containers out in the open that I couldn’t access before due to lacking abilities that I now have. I have about 38% of the items from Cataris, so I decide to take a tour and see if I can get more.
I study the map and try to explore everywhere I haven’t been to yet, and find a bunch of Missile Containers, and a couple of orange containers that I’m guessing are containers for Super Bombs, but I don’t have the ability to use those yet. By the time I’m done, I have 80% of Cataris cleared out, and two flashing zones remaining to be figured out, one of which looks like it requires Super Bomb ability. There’s only one place on the map that I can’t get to yet, it looks like a lava zone.
I also found two more transport pads, the first of which was a blue one near the elevator that connects Cataris and Artaria, and it was the first thing I came to after the boss fight that wasn’t a normal power-up, so I’m guessing that maybe this is the way I’m meant to go. Once I’ve scoured Cataris as much as I can for now, I head back there, and travel back to Artaria to see where it will take me.