Metroid: Dread diary 8

In Artaria, I find things much as I left them. I’m much more powerful now with the energy tanks and wide beam, and the enemies here weren’t much of a threat to begin with. I know I saw another Energy Tank somewhere that I couldn’t get to without Morph Ball, and a few missile containers as well. I’m here to grab them and see what else I can access, and what else might happen when I revisit areas.

The Energy Tank turns out to be another partial, so now I’m 2/4 of the way to having my 3rd Tank. I pick up one Missile container, and then decide to explore a part of the map I couldn’t get to before, but can now that I have the wide beam.

This feels casual, I’m not really worried about threats, and I know the map well enough.

Near one of the missile containers I pick up, there’s a platform I couldn’t reach, but now can thanks to the morph ball. I go up there, and find a teleporter that can take me back to Cataris, to what looks like a new space I haven’t been to before. Since Cataris has a lot of high heat areas, I’m nervous about going that way, and decide to stick to Artaria for now and try to explore it thoroughly and pick up everything I can here before I go back.

I cross much of Artaria and make it to a door I couldn’t open before, and shoot it open with the wide beam. I begin exploring a new section of Artaria, and eventually come to a pressure plate. When I stand on it, the familiar message that thermal flow has been redirected comes up. Then something unexpected happens, and the area I’m standing in suddenly gets superheated. I’m taking damage, and there’s flames spewing everywhere. Aaaaa!

I try to run for it, and briefly escape the flames, but I make too many bad jumps and the fire catches up with me. I keep trying to escape, but end up taking too much damage and drop from my injuries.

I try again, and this time I’m successful. Just knowing to expect it is all I really needed. This time I avoid taking much damage at all, staying well ahead of the flames for most of the run. As I get to safety, I am still in unfamiliar, new territory. Here, I find another Chozo statue, holding an orb. I grab it; it’s the Varia Suit power-up. This gives me heat resistance, some damage reduction, and slightly boosts my melee damage. It notes that I’m still vulnerable to damage from lava, and doesn’t protect me from cold, but now that I have this ability, there’s a lot more regions that have just opened up to me for further exploration.

I continue on, coming to a now-safe fire zone, and as I make my way through it, I discover a Missile Container+ in a lava pool, which I grab. Doing this does a lot of damage, leaving me weak, but the container adds 10 to my capacity, making it well worth it.

The only way out leads back to a tunnel that I roll through, and it ends up taking me to that teleporter to Cataris. And this time, thanks to the fiery cataclysm I unleashed, the way down from this platform is blocked by rockfall. I guess that’s it then, the only way forward is back to Cataris.

I enter the teleporter, and arrive in a new area that I hadn’t explored previously, but it’s an area adjacent to a small chamber that I could see from my previous trip, but couldn’t figure out how to reach. I discover a tunnel complex, and proceed into another fiery zone. As I go deeper and deeper, I start hearing a roar, like an immense beast is nearby. I expect another boss fight in the near future.

As expected, I eventually come to a large room, and a transition into cutscene mode. I find myself face to face with… if I’m not mistaken, Kraid. He’s gigantic, as he was in Super Metroid, and sitting waist deep in lava, chained to the wall by his neck and both arms.

The cutscene again shows me what I need to do: shoot him in the mouth.

I spam missiles into his mouth, and my capacity is up to around 57. Sometimes he spits out a bunch of balls, and I switch to wide beam to shoot them down; they drop life and missiles which helps me keep from running out. He also flings claws at me, and they do pretty heavy damage, so I definitely need all the health I can grab, but more to the point I need to figure out how to avoid getting hit more.

After shooting about 2/3 of my missiles, he switches to a new phase. He breaks free with his arm, and in doing so damages the platform I’m standing on, making it smaller, giving me less room to dodge. Now I have to shoot at his belly oriface. It seems I can do damage here with my regular wide beam shots, and at this point he’s shooting so many blobs at me that I need to use the wide beam as much as possible to try to shoot them down before they hit me, and hopefully pick up some health.

His next attack mode is a purple cloud that runs along the ground, and I can’t get out of the way in time. It happens to do enough damage to bring me down. I see that there’s a magnetic panel on the wall now, which I’m evidently supposed to grab on to.

On my second attempt, I manage to grab on to it, and it runs me up to where I can again fire into Kraid’s mouth. Unfortunately, I take too much damage again, and don’t win the fight.

I try two more times, and then give up for the time being. I figure maybe there’s more Energy Tanks around, and if I can pick up one or two of them, it might make the difference. I feel like I might be close to having him beat, but I can’t really be sure.

There’s several other fire zones in Cataris that I might explore and pick up more powers, so I break off, backtrack, and decide to try exploring.

I go through each of the hot zones, and don’t really find much of anything. No energy tanks, no missile containers, at least none that I can grab right now. There are some locked away in small pockets in the rock, but I either can’t jump to them or can’t blow them open with my current armaments.

Giving up on trying to find more items, I head back to fight Kraid again. I work on my technique and try to observe more closely what’s going on, as this is the only approach that really works in video game boss fights. You don’t win any boss fight by brute forcing your way through the encounter, a stand-and-deliver strategy will only get you killed quickly. I had previously tried to just hold my aimpoint and spam missiles into the mouth as quickly as I could, but I took too much damage this way.

I refine the technique over my next dozen or so runs, and get better each time. During Kraid’s first phase, he has four states, starting with mouth closed. If he’s in this state, hitting him in the mouth with a missile won’t do damage, but will cause him to open his mouth, which is the key to doing damage to him. With his mouth open, he has three other phases: gaping, during which he’s not really attacking, and you can just spam as many missiles into his mouth as you can; spewing, during which these round balls that look sort of like apples shoot out of his mouth and rain down toward you, along with the occasional ball of flame; and clawing, during which he flings his claws at you, they sort of shoot off and fly at you. During the spewing phase, it’s best to switch back to your beam shot and run back and forth, free-aiming upward and shoot as much of the balls as possible, while trying to avoid touching them or the fireballs. The fireballs are the only ones that are hard to dodge — you need to move as soon as you see one emerge, as they are targeted directly at you and will hit unless you move almost immediately. Shooting the balls down means most of them won’t need to be dodged, and best of all they drop missile and health pickups that you can use to replenish your ammo and top off health if you do happen to get hurt.

During the claw-flinging phase, you can stay on missiles, shooting most of them at Kraid’s mouth to pour on the damage, and hitting the lower claws before they are a threat to you, again releasing more health and ammo pickups. Occasionally, Kraid will fling a high claw, which forces you to adjust your aim momentarily, taking it off-mouth, in order to hit the claw in mid-air. As long as you can hit the claws, this phase is low-risk, and you can basically recover from any damage you happen to take.

I get so good at this phase that I can get through it with full ammo and health.

Kraid’s second phase is tougher. He becomes enraged and breaks partially free from his bindings, freeing one arm. He smashes the platform you’re standing on, and steps forward, giving you less room to maneuver. Entering phase two, we get a brief cutscene which shows his new weakpoint — his belly orifice.

Phase two consists of several attack modes. These are trickier to dodge and require precise timing in order to do so. The timing for each attack mode is slightly different, making it easy to get thrown off and miss-time your jumps, and if you get thrown off it’s difficult to get back into rhythm, leading you to take damage repeatedly. The attacks Kraid hits you with are all high damage, so you can’t afford to take very many hits.

One of his attack modes is a purple cloud which emits from his belly orifice. This sort of spews out in an arc which lands about center of the remaining platform that you have to stand on, and then splits and moves in both directions, left and right. You need to use a full-height jump to leap over it, and if your timing is right it will have dissipated by the time you land, and you can avoid taking damage. If you do get hit by this attack, it does a lot of damage.

Another attack mode is spitting out more of those apple-shaped brown balls, this time again from his belly orifice. These launch at a couple of different heights and angles, and bounce toward you. They’re not too difficult to dodge, but doing so takes all your attention and prevents you from attacking. The best way to deal with this phase is to charge your beam shot, jump, and fire just as the orifice is launching a ball. If your timing is good, your charge shot will take out the ball, yielding you a health or missile pickup, and hit the orifice, dealing some damage. The timing of the ball launch and the recharge timing of your power shot are just about perfectly in sync, so you can get into a pattern and hit the orifice repeatedly, taking out the ball before it’s a threat to you, and gain health and replenish ammo all at once. If your timing’s not good, you will either get hit hit by the balls, which disrupts your power charge, or you’ll just take out the balls without hitting the orifice, losing the opportunity to do a little extra damage. The most important thing is to avoid getting hit by the balls, and take every opportunity to destroy them so you can keep your health and ammo up.

Kraid’s third attack is to launch a missile of his own from the belly orifice. This is Kraid’s classic attack, a signature move he has had from the original NES Metroid. He’ll launch missiles from all three of his belly orifices, and they will either launch bottom first, then middle, then top, or top first, then middle, then bottom, but almost at the same time. If it’s a bottom-first pattern, you can jump onto each missile in succession, as it embeds itself into the wall, becoming a temporary platform. They shatter quickly, but if your timing is perfect, you can scramble up the belly missiles, and then leap up and catch a magnetic platform on the wall, and cling to it at a height level with Kraid’s mouth, which you can shoot missiles into for a lot of damage.

If the belly missile pattern is top first, you don’t really have much time to dodge, and jumping will not escape damage. You can maybe slide or morph ball to go low enough, but I have never managed to do it, the reflexes needed and timing are just too narrow. I’m sure it can be done if you are expecting it, but I’m always hoping to jump onto the missiles and get up to the mouth, since that’s more important.

When you’re hanging up on the wall, Kraid will either fling his claws at you, which again you should shoot down with missiles in order to avoid taking damage and to spawn some vital ammo and health replenishments, and if you miss and let one of the claws hit you, it will knock you down and you’ll have to deal with the belly attacks again. Or, he’ll lash out at you with his free arm. There’s a split-second moment where you can melee counter this arm swipe attack, and if you manage to pull it off it spawns a massive burst of health and ammo pickups, and as well it enables you to counter with a huge volley of missiles right down his gullet. If you miss the melee counter, the arm attack will hit you, do a lot of damage, and knock you off the wall, back down to the ground, and you’ll have to work your way back up again.

Eventually, after about a dozen or more runs, I manage to get the melee counter timing down well enough to pull it off once, and in this run I manage to defeat Kraid. I’m just barely alive at the end of the fight, only 31 health remaining, which I’m pretty sure meant that if I took any hit from Kraid it would have finished me.

It’s a tough fight, and now that I’ve done it, I’m sure I could do it again, but I bet I’d only be successful about one in three attempts, until I practiced it enough to get even better. The first phase is easy once you get good at it, but the second phase is a lot tougher, with the timing for pulling off the strategies for countering the various belly attacks, and the timing for the melee counter being very tight to pull off.

After the fight is over, there’s no big burst of health and missile pickups, so I’m left in a pretty vulnerable state, and desperately need to find a save point or replenishing station, or a place where I can easily farm health pickups until I’m more secure.

I make my way out of Kraid’s chamber, and just past it I find another Chozo statue room, where I obtain the Diffusion Beam upgrade. This adds an explosive effect to the arm cannon’s charge shots, and the force of this explosion penetrates walls a bit. I believe this will enable me to blow open some more of the walls that I couldn’t do anything to earlier, and make a few more missile containers and energy tanks available to me.

Now I just need to get to a save point.

I continue working my way out, and encounter a few enemies, and I’m extremely cautious dealing with them since my health is so low. Fortunately, I deal with them without taking damage, and they drop a few health pickups, bringing me up to a little over 100. I still have two empty E-tank units, so I’m about 1/3 full, but at least I can probably handle getting hit once or twice now.

I try to find a way out, but the only way I can go seems to be a teleportation transport that will take me back to Dairon. Dairon has a lot of dangerous enemies, and with my weakened health I’m afraid to travel there. But there’s no other way, and so I must.

I get into the transporter, and it takes me to a new part of Dairon that I haven’t been to yet. I’m in a tiny cave, which appears to be sealed, but my Diffusion Beam opens up the way. I’m sure the designers made it this way intentionally, in order to force me to pick up the Diffusion Beam after beating Kraid before moving on. Good design to require this, as it will help to prevent situations where Samus might get soft-locked in an area where they can’t backtrack, and can’t proceed without the Diffusion Beam.

Not too far into this area of Dairon, I find a save point. It’s a comms console, and I can talk to ADAM again. The AI informs me that Dairon appear to be a bio research facility, and that there’s a power outage. I’ve already reactivated one of the power sources on my earlier visit, but there’s a second one that I’ll need to activate. But I’m not sure why that’s necessary — ADAM doesn’t say. I thought my mission was to survive and get to the surface. Apparently doing so now requires that I bring this bio research lab back online. Is that really a good idea? Do you want Metroids? Because this is how you get Metroids.

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