Category: Nintendo

Metroid: Dread diary 15

Back in Ghavoran, the X-parasites have infected everything, and now the enemies are massively more powerful. Every encounter with them is non-trivial, now, and I have to be on my toes. Fortunately when they drop X for me to absorb, I get my health and ammo back, but if I’m too casual and don’t take caution to avoid unnecessary damage, they will wear me down.

I find a communications terminal and have a conversation with ADAM , who informs me that the X are here and have infested everything (yeah no shit!) but that thanks to my Metroid DNA, I have the power to absorb the X-parasite’s energy, which explains why they are life drops rather than deadly to me.

I find a Map Room for Ghavoran and get a sense of how big the zone is. I also have to take care to avoid the newly-reactivated EMMI that is patrolling this zone again. I make my way up and right into some new, unexplored areas that I can see on the map are leading to a Control Room where I’ll be able to regain the Omega beam power and deal with the EMMI.

Making my way through this area, fall down into a tall cavernous room where there are these organic-looking platforms that I have to jump on quickly, or they disappear, dropping me further below. This is tricky and I’m not used to it, so of course I fall to the bottom. There’s no way out except to the right, and I proceed the only way I can, by climbing a magnetic wall and exiting through a door. This leads me to a small, well hidden room where I find a save point. To the right of this, I encounter a huge crab-like alien creature who is invulnerable to attacks, but when it rears up to attack me it’s vulnerable to being hit in the belly. I can only pull off 2-3 missile shots while it’s attacking me, and I can’t seem to dodge it, so I just stand there and go toe to toe with it. I find that if I back all the way into the corner so that I’m almost disappeared into the doorway, it maybe can’t reach me. But by this time I’m already down to almost no life. One more hit and it’ll kill me, but I finally bring it down with a final missile, and it drops so much X-parasite that I’m renewed again.

Through this area, I find a new power-up: the Spin Boost. This is a double-jump power that will make it possible to escape the tall room — maybe.

I need the Spin Boost to jump back up to the platform and exit this room, but I’m immediately stuck again, as the Spin Boost doesn’t work underwater without the Gravity Suit, which I don’t have yet, and there’s a tall jump that I can’t make from a starting point in the water.

I don’t get what I’m supposed to do here. There’s some destructible blocks in the ceiling, but I can’t destroy them (they register as ??? blocks on the map, which means I don’t have whatever ability I need to break them. But even if I did, there’s still no way for me to get to the ceiling. I can’t climb, there’s no magnetic walls for me to latch on to, I can’t speed run or dash, the floor isn’t bombable, and I see no way to lower the water level to the point where I could effectively jump out. The description of the Spin Boost ability even seems to tell me that I can’t use it to get out of here. I eventually give up and look for the answer on YouTube, and find a video which shows how the jump is done: rather than to get more height, I use it to get more distance, from a ledge above the bottom floor of the room. This allows me to ledge grab on the left side, and pull myself up. OK.

From there, I proceed back the way I came, and make my way up and out of the area, until I come to a new point where I fall through the floor and into a battle with another Chozo soldier. This one is also X-infected, and has a spear, so I’ve dealt with his kind before. It’s still a difficult fight, and I die many times before I finally prevail. Again, dash moves and keeping my distance, rather than trying to counter the melee attack seems to work best for me, and in the end it amounts to making a special move using the melee counter to finish him off.

I’m getting to where this doesn’t feel hard, per se, but if I screw up at all I lose. If I’m perfect, I win, and I am getting better at knowing the pattern well enough to run it perfectly more often than not. The time I finally defeat him, I only get hit one time the entire fight. It all comes down to jumping over him when he’s winding up the spear attack and using a dash move to clear him and land behind him, getting as much distance between us, and turning around and hitting him with as many missiles as possible. When it comes to the finishing move, it all comes down to not over-anticipating the timing of the melee counter that is required to end the fight, and hitting both counters so that I can shove my cannon down its throat and launch a final missile.

Immediately after the encounter, there’s another save point, so that’s nice.

Metroid: Dread diary 14

Elun is a decaying ruin, but still regal. It is festooned with massive statues of Chozo, some of which crumble when I walk past them. As I depart the train platform, I’m greeted by a save point immediately. I take this as a signal that I’m about to get into some serious danger real soon. Just past the save point room, we get a cutscene that allows me to take in the fallen grandeur of this palatial fortress. I walk forward and an immense outer door opens for me, as if it was triggered by my approach. After I step through the massive portal, a swarm of robotic eyes surround me, and I’m briefly concerned that I’m about to get lit up. But they just scan me, and, having apparently determined that I’m welcome, they fly away.

Inside, the path forward seems blocked, but I’m not fooled — I try my usual tricks and find a bombable block and drop through the floor into a tunnel system.

The entire area feels haunted. There’s X-parasites swooping about in the air, and all of the creatures I encounter have a dark, corrupted look about them, from being infected by the X.

These creatures are incredibly tough, taking a lot of missiles to take down. But when they die, they drop an X-parasite, which, I would think, I should try to avoid, but when I accidentally touch one, it turns out to be a massive health/ammo combo boost. Many of these encounters end up taking me down by more than half of my life energy, due to the close quarters of the confined tunnels and narrow corridors.

After several encounters, I find a power-up item: the Plasma Beam. This is a power-up for my standard arm cannon. It gives me the ability to fire penetrating shots that will go through several enemies, and it’s also powerful enough to deal damage to robotic enemies without having to charge up. This helps significantly to even the power level between my attacks and the power level of these X-infected creatures, but they still take 2-3 charge shots to kill.

I continue to wind my way through the labyrinth of tunnels, and eventually come to a monster door. I parry its attack and blow it open, and then walk through into a room where another cutscene announces my newest boss fight: an X-corrupted Chozo soldier, armed with a long spear.

We tangle, and this thing is quick and has long range melee strike capability with its spear. I hit it hard with super missiles, and in my first round with the thing, I manage to get into its second phase, where it briefly cutscenes to show it roar at me with an alien-like maw, and introduces in some new attacks.

It takes me a few fights to figure out how to deal with it effectively. I can’t seem to melee counter its attack. I just don’t have a good sense of the timing. I discover though that melee counters aren’t the only way to deal with his spear charges. I can dash move out of the way, leap over, or simply run backward to put extra distance between us.

All the while I pour on super missiles, jump or dash to avoid its attacks, and repeat. Even so, he’s got so much reach with that spear that I can’t avoid every hit, and he manages to kill me a half dozen times or so. Eventually I give up on trying to melee counter his attacks and stick exclusively to dodges, and I do much better, bringing him down into his second attack phase without getting hit once. During the second phase, I do better than previously with my all-dodge, no parry strategy, and although he does manage to hit me a few times, I get to Phase 3. At first I think this is a cutscene, as the camera angle changes, but it’s actually a scripted combat event, where I’m supposed to melee counter. He attacks twice, and I am not ready for either of them, and we resume normal combat, and I’m now badly injured and he kills me. But the next time it happens, I’m ready for it, I manage to counter both of his attacks, and this affords me an opportunity to finish him off with a coup de grace cannon blast into the mouth.

I’m nearly dead from this combat, but he drops so much life it brings me back nearly to full health. Then, after the combat room, I find an E-tank, which brings me up to 699 health.

I continue forward and I’ve looped around back to near the train platform. There’s another cutscene, and we see that a Chozo who looks like, maybe even is(?) Quiet Robe, reactivates the EMMI.

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. You don’t get promised to have to deal with seven EMMI, and only have to deal with half of them. I feel more ready than ever.

Metroid: Dread diary 13

A few tries is all it takes to defeat the squid boss, known as Drogyga. I have to be a little faster with activating the pumps and grapple beaming over it, and then a lot more aggressive with the missiles, and try to dodge a bit more, but after the fourth of fifth attempt, I’ve defeated the beast. I’m left with single digit missiles, and a little over 100 health, so it was a tough fight. Toward the end of the fight, I got a melee counter against one of its tentacle swipes, which left it vulnerable for an extended period to hitting the weakpoint in its mouth with a bunch of missiles, and I think that’s what made the difference.

After defeating Drogyga, I don’t immediately get any new powers, so I’m left wondering what the purpose was in coming here, or where to go next. Eventually I figure it out, as I walk over a section of the floor that gives way, dropping me back down into the area near the closest health recharge station, which is mighty convenient. I refill my health here, and then go to the nearest save point and save.

From here, I’m not sure where to go. I consult the map again, and notice a section of the map nearby that appears to be open and unexplored, so I head there. There’s a series of magnet panels that I have to climb up, using the grapple beam, and then I’m able to get into a new area, where I find yet another save point, and a transport pad that will take me to a new zone, Ghavoran.

Ghavoran is a jungle area, teaming with life forms. Some of them are dangerous, others just skitter out of the way. I make my way to the right; there’s a doorway to the left, but it’s blocked by what appears to be a shield of some kind, and none of my weapons can do anything to it. I think I need super bombs or super missiles. To the right, there’s a magnetic door that I can open with the Grapple Beam. Beyond that, there’s a small pool of water which might be a pathway leading down into an underwater cavern, and a pathway leading up. I decide to go up first, and find my way blocked by a grapple beam block, which if I pull it, will fall down to fill the gap where I just came up, sealing me off from the entrance to Ghavoran. I guess that’s it, then. I pull the block and open the way forward, and seal off the way backward. The level design commits me to my chosen course; I only hope that I’m right. But so far, every time I’ve second guessed whether I’m ready for a new area, it turns out that I have been up to the new challenge.

To the right, there’s a total recharge station, and a difficult-to-reach Missile Container, which I manage to get by using the Shine Spark ability to jump high enough to reach the ledge where it sits. There’s no more places to explore this way, so I turn around and head to the left.

Through the first door I come to, I encounter another Chozo soldier. This one wears gold colored armor, and appears to be perhaps a bit more heavily armored than the first one I defeated back in Ferenia. I have to fight it ten, a dozen, maybe twenty times before I manage to win. The key to victory again is avoiding damage and getting a lot of missiles to hit in between the enemy’s attacks. He has a few different attack modes, which he mixes up randomly: a three-shot burst, which is best dodged by jumping; a charge shot, which again you should jump to dodge. These require a bit of timing, and the timing is different. If you see his gun glowing like it’s charging up for a charge shot, then you need to wait a bit and then jump over the shot. If you jump too soon, expecting the three-shot burst, it will throw your timing off and you’ll most likely end up hit by the charge shot. Likewise, if you don’t jump fast enough when he’s shooting his three shot burst, it will hit you. If you’re really unlucky the first and third shots from the burst will both do damage. Each hit does a lot of damage, and with a full charge of health (around 599 units currently) it only takes a few mistakes before I’m done for. This Chozo also has a dash attack, where he charges up a red glow, and then slashes at you very quickly. The windup for this is long, but the release is lightning quick. But this is an opportunity to score a melee counter, which will release a ton of health and ammo boosts, and leave the enemy stunned for a few seconds, allowing you to pour on missiles and deal a lot of damage.

The timing to pull off the melee counter is difficult — the long, slow windup of the slash is such that I anticipate it too much and try to counter prematurely, throwing my timing off, and then I’m unable to recover in order to pull off the counter when the attack finally comes. It’s tough to get it down, but after many screw-ups, I manage to pull it off — once. Then I keep dying, trying again and again, each time screwing up either my jumps over his shots, or the melee counter move, and die. I have no indication how much damage I’m doing to the enemy; he has no life bar, and there’s no visual indication to show me how damaged or close to death he is. This makes it feel like I’ve barely dealt any damage to him at all when he creams me each time. But for all I know he could be one missile away from getting taken out.

Most of my failed runs against this enemy, I manage to pull off a melee counter early in the fight, when I don’t really need the health boosts, and then I miss a later melee counter, when I do. It’s frustrating, but I’m only successful countering him maybe 1-in-3, 1-in-4 tries.

Finally, though, I manage to get the best of him, in a fight where I do exceptionally well at dodging his fire. I come at him, holding a charge beam shot, and letting it go at him just as he appears, then immediately charge up another and let it loose at him as he comes at me. From there, I leap backwards, evading his fire, and increasing my distance, charging up a third charge beam shot while I’m in the air, and then whirl around and shoot it at him the instant I land. Then I switch to missiles and fire four or five at him as he closes. I get ready to react to his next move, depending on which attack he brings, and successfully manage to jump his three round burst attack, getting off a few more missile strikes as I’m dodging. Then he unleashes his slash attack, and I manage to counter it. I still haven’t taken damage, so the health boosts are wasted, but he’s stunned and I take the opportunity to jam as many missiles into him as I can manage, then as he’s starting to recover, I jump over him and run left. He gets back to his feet, but I’m past him and have opened up more distance again. He tries blasting me with a charge shot, but I have plenty of space between us and this gives me more time to react, and I jump over it. He again tries to close with me, and as he comes I blast him with more missiles. He stands off a few blocks distance from me, and this is where he’s most dangerous — he could shoot another three round burst again, or a charge shot, or go for a melee slash, and I have to be prepared for any of these, and if I guess wrong my timing will be off, he’ll hit me, and I’ll be off-balance and probably get hit again and again. That’s basically what happens, and he manages to hit me a few times, taking me down to where I’ll be dead if I take one more good hit from him. But I manage to jump a few of his shots, and stay alive just long enough to put the coup de grace on him, thankfully.

I could fight this guy and win maybe one in ten, one in twenty times. He’s tough. But I bet the more I fight him, the better I’ll get at dodging and countering, and that ratio would go up. The key is mostly to play defensive and avoid his attacks as much as possible, while still mounting an effective offense, and being able to pull off the melee counter reliably would make this enemy a lot easier.

I explore the rest of Ghavoran, at least the parts I’m able to here. I’m down to just 107 health, so the first thing I do is run back to the room I just came from and take another total recharge, before heading back to the left to see what’s beyond the area where I fought the Chozo. I don’t find much, and end up talking to ADAM on another communications console. ADAM tells me that I’m no match for Raven Beak, even fully equipped, and confirms that the remaining EMMI are still deactivated. This gives me the idea that maybe I could turn the tables on Raven Beak if I could take control of the remaining EMMI and turn them on him, ganging up all at once. That would be neat. But who knows what will actually happen. ADAM expresses puzzlement as to why Raven Beak spared me in our first encounter. Indeed, I wonder why he didn’t just get a sample of the DNA he needed from me at that time. Then he could have just killed me off, or let me go, or kept me prisoner. But I guess there wouldn’t be much game then, would there.

After that, I then find a transporter to take me back to Dairon. I end up coming in near the upper left quadrant of the map, near the ice cold room that I created when I restored the second power station to service. I have no choice but to get through it as quickly as possible. I have to blast the wall open, first, then run for it. I barely have enough life energy, even at full health, to get through. I can screw up one or two jumps and if I don’t grab a ledge, or accidentally switch into morph ball when I don’t mean to, it really hurts my chances of getting through safely. So it takes several attempts, and it shouldn’t be as hard as it seems, but with the pressure on I keep screwing it up. But on the 5th or 6th attempt, I finally manage to get through.

I kinda suck at video games, I guess.

But I’m back to a known area where I feel relatively safe. I haven’t gotten any new abilities from the last several boss fights, it seems, and I’m not sure where I should go next.

I puzzle over the map of Dairon, and don’t see much that I haven’t already explored. I must be missing something. The only area that doesn’t look completely mapped out is the top corner of the cold area I just came through. Could it be that I was meant to go up, into an unknown part of the map, rather than across to a location where there was certain safety? It seems reasonable. But how to get up there? I can see no means that would look possible with my current capabilities. The one thing I might be able to pull off would be to get a speed boost run going on the bottom of the freezing room, and then jump vertically to the ceiling using the Shine Spark ability.

The problem is that right where I would need to jump vertically to pull this off, there’s a ledge, and I can’t jump through this ledge using Shine Spark. So is there some way to jump while the Shine Spark is charged, but not trigger the Shine Spark jump? I’m not sure. But I don’t see how I can do it. I’ll get one, maybe two attempts per run, and if I don’t pull it off, I have to watch the death animation and then wait for the game to reset and spawn me again for another try.

I give it a bunch of tries, but it doesn’t feel like it’s working, and if this is how you’re supposed to go, I just don’t have the skills built yet to be able to pull it off.

The only other thing I can think of to do is return back to Ghavoran and see if I may have missed anything.

It turns out, I did miss two important things. First, the Super Missile power-up, which I find not far from where I had exited Ghavoran. Next, there’s another pathway that I hadn’t taken before, which goes off to the right, and leads to a new train platform, this one says it will take me to a new place I haven’t been to before, called Elun.

From the size of it on the map, it looks like it must not be very big. Is that where I was meant to go, rather than back to Dairon? It makes me wonder why they put a transportation device to go back to Dairon in this part of Ghavoran in the first place. Maybe I’m meant to do something or get something quickly in Elun, then backtrack through Ghavoran and eventually return to Dairon in order to complete my mission?

Since I don’t know where I should go next in Dairon, it seems logical to explore Elun a bit and see what’s there.

Metroid: Dread diary 12

I figured out how to get out of Ferenia. I went back through all the powers that I’ve acquired and tried each of them in turn, until I figured out that the speed run ability will let you get through the wind of the fan.

This irks me, because there should be multiple ways of getting past the fan. I should be able to destroy it with my weapons. I should be able to use the Flash Shift ability to dash further into the wind. I should be able to use the Grapple Beam to rip it apart, or to grab a part of the wall and pull myself forward. I should be able to use the Spider Magnet ability to cling to the floor and root myself in place. But no, none of these things work, there is one and only one solution. The idea that a fan would be able to generate that much wind that Samus would be unable to walk forward is a bit ridiculous. It is what it is, though.

Now that I’ve figured this out, I can make progress again. I continue forward and make my way back to Dairon and then I traverse the tunnels of Dairon to get to the train station that takes me to Burenia. Along the way, I pick up as many new power-ups as I can. I obtain another partial E-tank, and more missiles in a few spots. I also find places where I can open up new accessways that connect places I’ve already been through, using the grapple beam to pull out blocks, so I do so. You never know when it might be advantageous to take one of these routes, even though it doesn’t seem like it really opens up the map to new areas, necessarily. If anything it’ll make some new routes for shortcuts.

I do get to a point in Burenia where I’m able to make progress exploring areas that hadn’t been open to me before. I find the Map Room, and download the map. I also talk to ADAM at some point, and he confirms that now all the remaining EMMI were deactivated by Quiet Robe. I forget how many I’ve had to face — three? four? And I left the purple one frozen in Ferenia, so there’s at least one that’s intact and could be reactivated again, and then if there were seven altogether, that means there’s still potentially 2 or 3 others that I haven’t encountered. Hopefully, I won’t have to, but I expect at some point Raven Beak will reactivate them and I’ll have to take them on.

Exploring the new section of Burenia that opened up to me rewards me with several more missile pickups, including a Missile Container+, which brings my ammo capacity up to 95. There’s also a few new enemy creatures in this area, and they’re all fairly robust, taking multiple charge shot beams to bring down. Mostly it’s better t melee stun them and then you can take them out with a single regular shot from the arm cannon, and they drop a lot more life and ammo pickups that way. I’m getting comfortable enough with the melee counter move that I can pull it off regularly against the normal enemies. When I was new to the game, I almost never used this ability, it took too much time for me to think to use it before the opportunity was gone. But now I’ve been using it pretty much whenever I can.

The route is mostly upwards, and I eventually get to the next boss fight: I fall through the floor into a large chamber filled with water. There’s a tentacled, squid-like creature filling most of the room. There’s a cutscene that seems to indicate that I’m supposed to hit vulnerable spot in the mouth when it is open, but mostly the creature keeps its mouth closed. It jams a tentacle into the ceiling, which seems to be the only target I can damage with missiles. I hit it with a bunch of missiles, and eventually it lets go of the ceiling for a few seconds. To my left, there’s a glowing green piece of machinery built into the wall, which lights up and invites me to shoot it, which I do. This activates the machine, and lowers the water level, partially. There’s a magnetic ceiling tile that I can grapple beam up to, and then it slides across, taking me to the other side of the creature, where I find another piece of machinery that I can shoot at to activate. Doing this brings the water level down even further, leaving the squid-creature beached. Only then does it open its mouth, and give me a brief opportunity to hit it with some missiles. Unfortunately, by this time I’m already close to death, having been hit by energy balls that it shoots out, and its tentacle swipe, and I don’t live long enough to finish it off. I think I was close, though. All it should take is a bit of practice, and I’ll be able to win the battle.

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.

Metroid: Dread diary 10

I have a closer look at the map of Dairon, and look for more places where I can break through walls and ceilings using the Speed Boost power. I find some areas where I can do it, near where I first entered from Cataris the first time I visited here.

I make my way there, and get a running start, activate Shine Spark, and jump vertically, punching through several ceilings of breakable blocks. I am rewarded with a Missile Container, and some new progress. A little beyond this point, I discover a Yellow Transporter pad, and take it to Artaria.

Here, I explore a new section of Artaria, and end up discovering a room with a Chozo statue, which gives me the Grapple Beam. The Grapple Beam takes some getting used to, but is so cool. It will let me grab certain magnetic blocks and pull them towards me, moving them out of the way so I can clear an obstacle. It also allows me to swing Tarzan-like from certain magnetic blocks on the ceiling. And it also allows me to pull myself toward any magnetic panels that I can Spider Magnet climb on, which means that I can now get to magnetic panels that are too far to reach by jumping.

Again, the level designers provide immediate opportunities to put this new power to use, and I test it out, and learn how to use each of the three functions it provides. A little further on, I find another elevator pad that will take me back to Dairon.

In Dairon, I take a route to tour the locations of the speed boost blocks. I find some locations where I can obtain Missile Containers, and some locations where I can break through with the Speed Boost and open new areas. I find a Missile Container that is at the ceiling of a large room, and I have to swing to it using the Grapple Beam, which I manage to do, clumsily. Then I find a transportation pad that will take me to a new zone I haven’t visited, called Ferenia. Is this where I’m supposed to go next?

I guess in Metroid games the whole point is that there’s not really a “supposed to”, but you have some choice.

Metroid: Dread diary 9

Exploring Dairon after the save point opens up a lot of new territory. I find a new EMMI zone, and use stealth and get past it without incident. It seems like I have a lot of options for which direction I want to explore. I don’t know which way to go, but I decide to try going up and out the right side entrance to this zone.

This ends up being a good choice. I end up finding a large new area to explore, and eventually I find the power station. I bring it back online, and the area comes to life. I try to go back the way I came, but the way is now refrigerated, and I can’t withstand the deep cold. I retreat back to the power station room, and find there’s a door to the right that I didn’t notice at first. This leads to an area that is normal temperature, but also lit up and active.

At one point, I’m walking through a corridor, when suddenly something powerful smashes into the background wall right where I’m standing. I expect some enemy to bust through, but after a few seconds nothing else happens. It’s foreboding.

A little more in this direction, and I find another powerup: the bomb. Now I can use bombs in morph ball mode, and I am really happy. Other than the screw attack and ice beam, I have all the traditional powers that Samus has in the original Metroid, and it feels good to be complete again.

Now I can drop bombs, boost myself up with them (you can also jump in morph ball mode in this game), I can blow up bomb blocks, and use bombs to launch myself through special tubes that run through the walls. Good stuff.

Somewhere around this area, I find a map room, and download the map data for Dairon. Dairon’s pretty large, and there’s huge unexplored areas that I’ve yet to find. I guess what I’ll need to do is go exploring, find another room with another boss to temporarily boost my beam cannon to Omega strength, find and kill the EMMI in this area, and probably fight some other boss as well.

Based on the size of the unmapped regions of this area, it’s going to take some time.

I start out going to the right, and then follow the only available path downward, and soon find myself in the EMMI patrol zone. I sneak through the area and exit at some point. There’s a bio lab, where I see a huge creature, similar to the one I fought in Artaria to obtain the stealth cloak ability, being vivisected. It’s a part of the background, thankfully, but I’m guessing at some point I’m going to encounter it again and it’ll be broken free, powered up, in great pain, and enraged.

It doesn’t completely make sense — I mean, this area had been in a power outage for who knows how long. Am I to believe that this creature had been captured, stored, alive somehow, for however long the power was out, and it didn’t die from the injuries of whatever experiment they were doing on it, or just from starvation, in all that time?

At some point I find another save point. But I’m very low on health again, and I don’t know if I want to be stuck resuming from this point with my health down so low, so I don’t save. Instead I press on, hoping I’ll find a health recharge, or a spot with an easy enemy who I can farm health from. But this is Dairon, and easy enemies aren’t really a thing here.

Eventually I get to a platform near the bottom of Dairon, and find another transportation platform to a new region, Burenia.

The monorail to Burenia is on the edge of a rough, angry looking sea. When I get to Burenia, it seems that the place is mostly submerged, with a lot of aquatic life forms. These don’t seem quite as hostile as what I was encountering in Dairon, but they’re still tough in terms of how much damage it takes to kill them. If I avoid triggering their hostile modes, I can take them out safely. This enables me to regain health to where I’m not so worried about dying. But I know I should be careful in a new region, because whatever’s here shouldn’t be underestimated.

As I explore, I find a weapon recharge station, but it’s just after an encounter with a creature that spawns a lot of “babies” that attack me, and each of these “babies” drops items, so I’m already full up. I continue on, and find a Missile Container, bringing me up to 61 total, and an E-tank, which I can’t get because there’s some trapdoor blocks that cause me to fall, and I guess I won’t be able to collect this until I get some new ability.

There was also another partial E-tank at the start of this area, but it wasn’t accessible either, due to a strong wind that I couldn’t push through. I find a communications terminal and it mentions that there’s abilities called Space Jump and Grapple Beam, and so probably I’ll acquire them soon, and then I’ll be able to get them.

It appears from here that I have some choices as there’s a branch in my path. But my first choice, to go right, is actually blocked by a sensor door that I can’t bypass using my stealth cloak. So I go left instead, and find a save point. Excellent, now that I’m fully powered again, sure I’ll save here.

It’s very fortunate that I do, because my next encounter just a couple of screens’ distance outside the door kills me. There’s another one of those creatures that spawns a swarm of babies, and this time they overwhelm me, and take me out from full health.

I had a relatively easy time with the first one, when I was nearly dead, so why did this one take me down? Because it was on a different elevation, and my charge shot didn’t take out the whole swarm. I didn’t have time to recharge, and the normal shot only takes out one individual from the swarm per shot. This lets the swarm continue to attack me, each time it does damage it disrupts my charge beam, and I can’t get off another full charge shot. They do a lot of damage and take you out quickly if you can’t get them off you.

I try again and this time I jump over the creature, turn around, and blast it, and this approach works a lot better.

A little past this point, I find a deep tank, which I sink to the bottom of. I see a Missile Container+, but it’s too far to the left and I can’t make it before I fall past. I can’t get up to it, either. But I can climb out of the tank, at least, by following a series of platforms on the right side.

After I get out of the tank, I come to another cutscene as I enter a room with a large Chozo statue. This time there’s no boss fight, and instead I’m rewarded with a new power, called Flash Shift. It is a dash ability that enables me to instantly shift my position right or left by a short distance. This is probably really helpful for dodging, and possibly other things.

Past the Chozo statue room, there’s a transporter platform. I don’t want to leave just yet, so I loop back around to the Save Point, save again, and then jump back into the deep tank and this time I’m able to grab the Missile Container+, which boosts my capacity up to 71. Nice.

I also go back to where I found the E-tank that I couldn’t get earlier, and test out my new Flash Shift ability. It works; I’m able to get over the disintegrating blocks and obtain my 3rd E-tank. I wonder if Flash Shift will work to get me past the wind, way back where that other E-tank was.

I make my way back to its location, but the dash move doesn’t work to get me through the wind. It only gets me about a block’s distance further than before, nowhere near enough to collect the partial tank. I guess maybe the grapple beam, then, or maybe there’ll be a way to destroy the fan or turn it off.

I also explore back by where I picked up the full E-tank, and find a destructible wall, and beyond it another monorail platform leading back to Dairon. So now I have a choice: go back to Dairon on this platform, and probably end up in a new region of Dairon that I can explore; or, go to the transportation platform and see where it goes; or see if there’s anything more to explore here in Burenia.

I’m curious to find out where the green teleportal leads, so I go back to its location, only to find that the door is now closed and I can’t open it. So I guess it’s back to Dairon, then. That’s really weird, that the game would allow this path temporarily, and then lock it a short time later after nothing much consequential has happened. I don’t know what I did that triggered the door to seal, but maybe I’ll figure it out later.

Back in Dairon, I emerge from the train platform and find myself in another EMMI patrol zone. I can only try to sneak through, and I move as quickly as I can, using my stealth cloak when I need to, but mostly just relying on speed to get through and stay ahead of the EMMI. I have a few close calls, but with my recently developed skills and new abilities, it’s a lot more fun to play cat and mouse with this thing than it was before. I have more options: I can morph ball and roll into a corner and hide, or I can use the spider magnet to cling to a wall or ceiling.

I manage to evade the EMMI’s detection for the most part, and make it across the area, only to find the doors are sealed and I can’t go through them to exit the area. I keep exploring, find another door that is also sealed, and press on further. I find an E-tank sealed in the wall, but I can’t get it, and I’m not sure what power I’ll need to get that one.

Just past the inaccessible E-tank, I find the Control Room, where I have another lame boss fight with another weak eyeball robot, who isn’t any tougher to defeat than the first two were. I’m disappointed that this recurring encounter doesn’t develop to match my abilities. I easily take the Control Room out and now I have the Omega Beam power again, and it’s time to tangle with the EMMI.

This EMMI is on me almost immediately as soon as I exit the Control Room, and I have a hard time putting enough distance between us to have enough time to blast its face shielding off. I try four or five times before I manage to do it. It’s like running a parkour course, but by dropping through gaps in the platforms and then sliding, I’m able to get to a location where I have a good shot lined up, and I turn around and wait to ambush the EMMI as it follows me. It has to crawl low through a tunnel, and I pour the Omega Cannon stream on it. Just as I’m almost to the point where I would need to turn and run to hopefully get more distance, the face shielding blows off. Perfect! I dash away and get to another point in the room where I can line up a good ambush and hit the EMMI just as it’s emerging out of a low tunnel.

In the past, one of my downfalls with EMMI encounters is forgetting the controls for the Omega charge beam. Since I don’t use it all that often, I forget that it’s Hold L to use the Omega beam, hold R to charge the Omega beam, and once charged, it’s Y to fire the beam. I usually forget the part about hitting Y, and then release the L and R buttons, lose my charge, and screw myself out of the opportunity to fire. This time, though, I remember, and I do it right on the first try, after several runs where I couldn’t get the distance I needed to have the time to blast the face shield off.

The EMMI goes down, my Omega power boost is once again drained, and I absorb a new power from the fallen EMMI, : the Speed Booster. This is the ability first introduced in Super Metroid which allows Samus to run at a boosted speed, doing damage to enemies, breaking certain types of blocks, and giving her the “Shine Spark” ability to make boosted jumps. Shine Spark is my least favorite ability in Metroid, because I’ve always found it hard to pull off — you have to get up to speed, and then press down, and then B to jump, and I usually screw it up.

Right away, there’s a few places where I can try out the ability. First, I bust through some blocks and expose the path to collect the E-tank that was just outside the Control Room. It turns out to be a partial tank, so now I’m at 3/4 to a 4th tank. A little further on, and I find a long corridor that I can boost my speed in, and then at the end of it I do a Shine Spark jump, straight up, which punches me through several ceilings, and I end up all the way at the top of a tall shaft near the center of Dairon. As I’m flying upward, I notice an E-tank in the wall on the left side of the shaft, so I jump back down and grab it; it’s a full E-tank, so now my total life energy is 499.

So now what? I’m not sure where I need to go. I explore the EMMI zone in Dairon and try to make sure that I’ve covered it all, and picked up any Missile Containers or Energy Tanks that I can find. But by going back and exploring more, I think I have lost the trail that the designers intended for me to follow. There’s an area in Dairon, where the large creature was being experimented on in the background, where the music seems to be indicating that something exciting is happening, but I’m not sure what it is.

This is a good stopping point for now, so I go to a save point and shut down.

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.

Metroid: Dread diary 7

I tried to make my way back to the elevator to Artaria, but found that I couldn’t. The way I came, at one point I needed to slide through a low passage, and then dropped from a height, and there’s no way to get back up through that way. So I’m still exploring Cataris, then.

I look at the map, and see that there’s still that mysterious Control Room that was labeled on an unexplored area of the map that I got from the map data terminal. Now that I have the wide beam, I can get there. I plot a course and get there, and find another wimpy boss fight like I had in Artaria, with the eyeball robot thing. It has the same weak-sauce lazy lasers and rinkas, and it’s not at all challenging, now that I’m more powered up than the last time I fought this boss. You’d think they’d up the challenge level to match my new abilities, but this eyeball robot goes down just as easily as the last one.

Again, I’m upgraded to Omega beam, and the EMMI that patrols this area is alerted to my presence due to the increase in my energy signature.

This time, I know how to handle it, and I have a fairly easy time melting its face armor off with Omega stream shots, and then finish it off with an Omega blast to the face.

This EMMI rewards me with the morph ball. I’ve been wondering when I’d get this ability back. There’s narrow tunnels all over Cataris, which the EMMI had been using, and now I can too. As well, I know at least a few power-ups I should be able to get now.

I roam around Cataris, looking for Missile Containers and Energy Tanks that I had seen along the way and couldn’t get to previously, and pick up as many as I can. But it’s a big map, and even with checking it frequently to see where I am and note what’s around, it’s not easy to feel confident that I’ve gotten everything. So I take my time.

There’s a few regions on the map that are blinking, which indicates some secret is hidden nearby, but I can’t figure out what I need to do to uncover them. In Artaria, I managed to find one, and it was discovered by blowing open some destructible blocks, but I’ve tried shooting all over within these regions in Cataris, to no avail. I’d like to know what I need to do, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m sure in time I will.

As I explore, I discover a destructible wall that opens up a pathway that leads back to the elevator to Artaria, so I’m now no longer stuck in Cataris. I’m sure there’s a lot of things that I can backtrack to and get there now, too, so that will be my next stop.

Metroid: Dread diary 6

OK. I was able to get out of my softlock predicament by restoring from the last save point. Apparently there’s a distinction to be made between save points and checkpoints. I found in the game menu where I could choose which to restore from, and got back outside of the thermal door that I was locked behind.

I explored Cataris a bit and found another path, which lead to a partial Energy Tank, and a dead end.

Not knowing what else to do, I did a little reading and cheated a little bit. It turns out, I was on the right track when I went to Dairon after all. I found a shootable block floor that got me past the initial point where I thought I couldn’t proceed.

The enemies here are really strong, deal a lot of damage, and are more aggressive. They also take more hits to kill. I find, though, that the melee counter move is a great equalizer. When they charge in to hit me, I learn, I can melee counter, then finish them off with a single shot from the beam cannon. It’s risky, since if I don’t time it right, I get hit and take damage, but if I’m successful it’s the fastest way to take out the flying enemies that like to swoop at me, and when I kill them, they drop a ton of life and missles.

There’s another type of enemy in Dairon, these little laser tank guys that traverse the ceilings and floors. They’re short, and hard to hit when they’re on the ground, since your regular straight-ahead shot will pass over it, you have to aim at them, which means you’re stationary, and a sitting duck for their precisely aimed laser shots. The shots are powerful, so the best way to take these enemies out is with missiles. It takes 2 or 3 hits to drop them, though, so mostly I try to move quickly and get past them before they can get a shot off.

There’s also some ripsaw traps that spring out of the ground and zoom at you. These can’t be destroyed permanently — they’re just shots that an automatic ripsaw generator spawns, so it seems like the best strategy again is to move quickly and get through without taking damage as much as possible.

I find a save point, but I’m paranoid about getting softlocked here, still, so I don’t use it. I continue exploring, and I get to an area where the power is out. The rooms are dark, dimly lit only by little glowing LED-like lights on the powered-down equipment that’s in the area. Dairon looks like some kind of industrial zone.

I come to a room where I can turn the power on, and do so. And after exploring further, I find what I came for: the wide beam power up. Acquiring it means that I’m no longer soft-locked if I go back to Cataris. I can open new doors and move blocks with this weapon. It also hits a little harder, and because of its triple-wide spread, I don’t have to be quite as precise with my aim now. I like it.

I want to head back to Cataris now to find out what else I can find now that I have this new ability. On my way out of Dairon, I encounter another EMMI, run from it, escape, and eventually I make my way back to the train that goes to Cataris.

Back in Cataris, I find that indeed, I’m no longer softlocked near the area of the train station. So I should have trusted the designers more, and not assumed that they had made it possible for me to get stuck in a place where I didn’t have the ability I needed to move forward or backward. I just didn’t have the confidence to think I was ready for Dairon’s harder enemies, when in fact the designers of the game were offering me a challenge, pushing me forward by preventing me from going backward.

It’s actually good level design. I take back what I said last entry. In large sprawling maps where you need to backtrack at times in order to reach areas you couldn’t previously, you do need to have some one-way funnels and chokepoints that will prevent you from going too far down the wrong path and getting hopelessly lost, looking for something to help you in an area where you won’t find it. Doing it by temporarily blocking off the route you came from creates a lot of anxiety at first when it happens, because it cuts you off from where you felt safer and familiar, and forces you in a direction where everything is unknown, but likely to be even more challenging. It’s fantastic, really.

Now that I’m back in Cataris, I’m trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do next. The wide beam should have opened up a few new routes that I can explore, but the region is large and I didn’t mark the spots on the map were the wide beam is needed, so now I’m just trying to find my way back. Running through the EMMI’s patrol zone, it’s a bit dangerous. I try to run it quickly and avoid detection as best I can. But the path is a bit of a maze, and I end up taking wrong turns and going in circles at times, which lengthens my time stuck in Cataris. A few times I end up getting captured by the EMMI, but I also manage to break free of it a few times. It’s still a low percentage chance to survive, but I’m getting a little better with the timing of the countermove that you need to get away, and I’ve pulled it off several times now. But it’s pretty difficult.

I’m not 100% sure there isn’t something more to do in the EMMI zone, but right now I’m just trying to make my way back to near the beginning of the level, if I can get there now, and I’m not sure that I can yet, even with the wide beam power.