Metroid: Dread diary 20

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.

Metroid: Dread diary 19

Artaria is frozen. The water areas are frozen up solid, making travel through them difficult. I can’t wade, only cross on the surface of the ice. You’d think my beam weapons would be able to melt it down, but no. Also many of the doors are frozen, and won’t open.

I make my way through as best I can, and again, the level design creates a mostly linear path and I can’t really make any choices that would put me off the path I’m supposed to be taking to move the plot forward. Along the way, I try to find as many secrets as I can, and I do find several. I end up picking up a couple more Missile Containers, and a Energy Tank. I now have max health 999 and about 131 missile capacity.

The creatures here are a mixture of weak and tough. The weak ones I can take out with a single hit from the normal beam cannon. The tough ones, I am best off melee countering and then one-shotting, or else hitting with multiple volleys of Storm Missiles. At one point, as I’m exploring, I fall down into a chamber and face another Mawkin Chozo soldier. This one seems like a higher level one, and is armed with a large shield and a long spear.

I fight him effectively, though, using much the same tactics as I’ve developed against these enemies: Stand off at a distance, fire Storm Missiles, jump and use Flash Shift to get over him while he’s winding up his attack, land behind him, and hit him in the back with more Storm Missiles. Timing the shots so that I can hit him from the front when his shield is out of the way, or hitting him from behind is the only way to do damage. I have to learn not to waste my shots because of the time it takes to wind up the Storm Missile volley, you don’t want to miss or get blocked.

It only takes a couple volleys and he’s already into his second phase, where he loses the shield, grabs onto the wall, high up, and spews a black cone of energy from his mouth, which does heavy damage. Dodging this isn’t easy, as his spew is prolonged, such that if I merely jump I will come down and land in it. So a multi-jump dodge seems to be the ticket here.

I only die twice fighting this guy, and despite the fact that he seems more powerful and elite than the previous Mawkin Chozo I’ve faced, my skills and tactics that I’ve developed serve me well enough that I feel like taking this one down was the easiest so far.

Beyond the chamber where I defeat the Chozo, I find the Energy Tank, some more missiles, and a communication room where ADAM instructs me to proceed to Cataris. The thermal flow there has been disrupted, and this is the actual cause of the planet’s rapid cooling. ADAM suspects a “massive” X-parasite is to blame, and urges me to be careful.

I’m always careful, but I feel confident that I can handle what’s ahead of me. I have little problem dealing with any of the threats in Artaria, and I’m not expecting Cataris to be much worse. I make my way to the elevator, and prepare to ascend.

Metroid: Dread diary 18

I haven’t played in a few days. Last time I played, where I left off I couldn’t figure out where to go. It seemed that the only unexplored places in Ferenia were icy zones that I couldn’t traverse.

The only exit from Ferenia that’s accessible to me is the train platform back to Ghavoran. I figure that with some of these new abilities I’ve picked up, I should at least be able to explore further and obtain some of the power-ups that I couldn’t get to previously if I return, and maybe I’ll find something that will enable me to deal with these cold zones.

So I go back to Ghavoran. I see nearby my arrival point there’s a Missile Container. I couldn’t reach it before because I couldn’t jump high out of the water, but now that I have the Space Jump, I should be able to get to it. I go to its location, and just before I can grab the missile container, the floor gives way beneath me, and I’m dropped down through a one-way Pitfall Block that reforms immediately after I fall through it. There’s only one way to go forward, so I proceed. Before long, I find a transport platform that will take me to Burenia.

I have little choice but to take it, so I do. I arrive at the green transport platform that I had found earlier in my run through Burenia, but couldn’t get into due to a blocked door that I couldn’t figure out how to open. I’m in the vicinity of the large, mostly-open water filled area, and my new abilities afford me mobility I lacked previously to get to the doorway high up on the left side of the chamber.

It turns out this area is fairly large. I find a Missile Container, an Energy Tank, and the Gravity Suit. The Gravity Suit is a big deal — it gives me the ability to move at full speed underwater, which means that I can now charge up a Speed Boost underwater. It also confers resistance to cold and lava, which means I can go through those cold areas and also I can now explore some areas in hot zones that were full of lava and therefore mostly still blocked off to me even with the protection of the Varia suit. It also reduces the damage that enemies do to me, and it increases the damage I do with melee attacks.

Getting to the Gravity Suit involves a lot of secret-finding techniques. It’s a long, twisty, but mostly linear route with many false dead ends that you have to use different abilities in order to proceed. I think you end up using almost everything you’ve found so far: the space jump, the stealth cloak, the grapple beam, bombs, storm missiles, and the charge shot. I don’t think I needed the flash shift, or the speed boost or shine spark, but everything else I’ve acquired from the start of the game came in handy. Toward the end, the “climax” of this exploratory jaunt is a section where I have to destroy sections of wall, causing a massive piece of machinery to fall, crashing through the floor of the chamber below, opening the way forward.

After I obtain the Gravity Suit, I’m free to go pretty much anywhere in the game. There’s still blocks that I can’t blow up — I haven’t found super bombs. I’m not sure what else there is to get in the game, but it seems like there must be at least two different types of blocks that I still can’t deal with. It’s possible I’m mistaken about that, and just haven’t realized what some of my powers can accomplish, though.

I continue to explore Burenia, and find a communication room where ADAM informs me that the X-parasites have taken over the entire planet, and I should assume everything I encounter is infected with X. This bears out with what I’ve been finding since I first encountered the X, so it’s not a surprise. ADAM also tells me that the planet is cooling, possibly due to the X-parasite (which seems weird that it would be related to that, and not, say, the changing of the seasons). This means it’s a good thing I acquired the Gravity Suit, then. But I think the real explanation for the planet cooling is that I just picked up the ability that makes it possible for me to endure the cold. I make my way to another transporter platform, this one will take me to Artaria. I haven’t been there in such a long time, and I’m sure there’s a lot of new areas that will be open to me now.

Given all the new areas I’ve unlocked and the progress I made toward opening up the icy regions of the Ferenia map, it feels like I was meant to go this way. It’s remarkable that the level design for the game can feel as open as it is, and yet still steer the player along the intended path through signposting, hinting, and the occasional one-way softlock.

THE BEST milkshake recipe

This is a simple recipe, but so good.

10 oz. 2% milk

3 scoops of your favorite vanilla ice cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 tablespoon of clover honey infused with cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly.

You should get just a hint of cinnamon flavor which really boosts the vanilla.

Metroid: Dread diary 17

It turns out beating Escue isn’t so hard. I was close to having it down, but the lack of enemy healthbars gives you a false impression of how tough the bosses are.

I hit it with missiles, and learn through a few fights that when Escue is electrified, don’t bother attacking, and just focus on dodging. When it’s not electrified, it’s vulnerable. It’s not just when the carapace is open. Dodging the black worms attack is hard, but if you jump and move you’ll only get hit by one or two of them, saving you a bunch of damage. Dodging the big black ball attack is more critical, and getting out of the way of the rush attack is also important. But mainly, pouring on missiles when you can is what gets the job done.

Escue has a second form, a large X-parasite blob, which takes a few more missiles to kill. Each time you hit it, it drops a bunch of X-pickups, which replenish your health some, which is important because it’s big enough that it’s tough to dodge or jump over, and you’re usually going to be close to death from the first phase of the Escue fight.

After defeating it, it drops an X-blob power-up, which turns out to be a multi-missile volley called the Storm Missile. You have to charge it by holding a button down, then sweep the area with your aim beam to target any available enemies in the room, and then it will unleash a volley of missiles at all of them. It’s a pretty neat ability. It also enables me to blow open those large blocks with the glowing green energy in them, which I previously haven’t been able to get past.

I find another missile container, a secret hidden one in the area just before the Escue fight, and then I go to the save point and save.

Looking at the map, there’s a large area of the map that I haven’t been to yet, and that’s where the Control Room is marked, and that’s obviously where I must go. I head in that direction, and before I get halfway there, I get locked into a large room, where I encounter two Chozo soldiers.

It feels like a Smash Bros. arena, as I run around trying to dodge their attacks. There’s a lot of room to move, but it’s tough to keep track of both enemies. Run, dodge, whip around and release a few missiles, but it’s not enough, and I go down again and again. I manage to deal out some damage but don’t have the moves to take even one of the pair out. But for all I know, I’m getting them close. But nah, they hand my ass to me repeatedly.

Finally, I manage to take them out. I just run and dodge, jumping over them and using the dash move to get extra distance, dodge, and to make sure my attempts to jump over them don’t result in me touching down on them and taking damage.

One of the most unfair feeling things about the boss fights in this game is that any touch at all, no matter how slight or incidental, with these bosses, seems to deal heavy damage. In this fight, in particular, the chozo’s attacks seem to have very generous hitboxes, such that if I touch even a tiny spark that flies off of their weapon, I’m dealt damage. I manage to run good in this last fight, and mostly avoid getting hit, and launch a lot of storm missiles into my foes, hitting them 3 at a time. Whenever I can, I turn back and fire as I run away, but I mostly am playing a defensive game, trying to avoid giving them an easy target. This works out pretty well, and when the first one dies, I’m surprised. I have enough time to glance at my life meter, and after picking up the drops from the first one, I’m in very good shape. With one down, it’s about 10 times easier to dodge and get around the room safely, and I have almost no problem taking down the second one. At one point I screw up a jump and end up toe to toe on the left side of the map. But I manage to hit him and then dump-dash out of there, turn around, and blast him for the final time on the top level, and watch him crumble into dust.

Fortunately, there’s a save room to the left of this chamber, and it’s one that I’ve been to before — previously the doorway connecting it to this boss fight room must have been blocked. I run in and save.

I have another look at the map, because I’m not sure where to go next. I see that nearby, through the area to the left that I’ve already been through, there was a storm missile block that prevented me from going into a room where the map shows there’s a power up ball. No hesitation, I head that way, and get the Space Jump ability. This is like the Spin Boost ability, but an infinite jump instead of a double jump; so it makes the Spin Boost obsolete, and effectively enables me to fly by jumping repeatedly.

Now the only areas left for me that are unexplored in Ferenia are both ice rooms, and I still don’t have an ability that will enable me to survive for more than a few seconds in these areas. The one to the right seems to be the path to take me to the Central Control room, where I know I’ll need to go in order to get the Omega Beam power up to deal with the EMMI from this zone. I think maybe if I run quickly I can get through it without dying, but the way is blocked by bomb blocks, and I can’t bomb fast enough to get through it. I don’t even know for sure that this is the right way.

I get up a full health charge and bomb through quickly, enter a door and get to the next room, which is also frozen, with almost no life left, and die. I’m not going to get through this area unless I can find a way to shut off the cold, or protect myself against it. And presently I know how to do neither.

Metroid: Dread diary 16

Getting further in Ghavoran requires mastery of the double jump move. I am forced to learn quickly. I make it back to the tall cavern room with the organic platforms that drop you after a second when you touch them, and try to use the Spin Boost to get up and out of the room. It takes many attempts, but eventually I make it happen. While trying to get the double jump to work, I learn that you can’t do it unless you’re in a spinning jump. I guess, hence the name “spin boost”.

Up and out to the right, I run through the EMMI zone, and this EMMI has a new capability: its radar beam seems to do damage and stun me when it hits. This makes running away from it all the more difficult, as you can’t really run away when you’ve been stunned. Its a wide, cone-shaped beam, and it seems to hit automatically if I’m in its range, so it’s really tough. Adding to the challenge, you need to Grapple Beam swing across several magnetic panels in order to cross the ceiling of the room to get out.

I die several times, but eventually I get through, and make my way to the unexplored portion of the map, where I find the Control Room. I defeat the eye robot here, again it’s an easy fight, but for some reason I’m terrible at dodging the Rinkas and laser shots this time, and lose about half my life energy during the fight. It doesn’t matter, though, because your life energy doesn’t matter in a fight with the EMMI, since they will always one-shot you.

I obtain the Omega Beam and run out to find the EMMI and put it down. This proves tricky. For some reason the EMMI doesn’t try to hit me with its stun power this time, though. It just homes in on me for the kill. I run right, then jump up and loop back left. There’s a magnetic ceiling panel on a sliding track, which I use do get across the ceiling to a platform on the upper left of the room. This is a good place to hit EMMI with the Omega Beams to melt its face plate off. It takes a slow crawl across the ceiling, presenting a perfect target the entire time. It seems like this one is tougher because I seem to have to hit it a lot more to get its face off. By the time I manage to do it, it’s crossed the ceiling and is nearly on me.

I have to use the break-away move to avoid getting killed, and run for it, to the bottom right corner of the room, where I turn around and charge up my Omega Beam cannon to finish it off. It crawls toward me slowly, and I’ve set up a perfect shot just as it comes into view, and I let loose a blast that stops it dead in its tracks.

The reward for this fight is the Ice Missile. So instead of Ice Beams in this game, they give you Ice Missiles. I can freeze enemies that don’t die from one hit with an Ice Missile, and maybe that means that I can use them as a platform, like in old Metroid games I’ve played. I’ll have to test that out if it ever seems necessary.

I find that Ice Missiles also can be used to destroy these large, organic looking red pillars that I’ve seen growing here and there about Ghavoran. Some of these things are obstacles blocking corridors. In one spot, after clearing them out, I am able to use the Grapple Beam to pull a large block out of the way, opening up a new area. Beyond that, I find another power up: the Pulse Radar. This lets me scan the area for special blocks, which should help me figure out how to find hidden secrets more easily.

I continue exploring the rest of Ghavoran, until I find a new train platform, this one takes me to Ferenia. So it’s back to Ferenia, then.

In Ferenia, the X parasites are rampaging, making all the creatures there more dangerous. They do more damage, and take more hits to destroy. Melee counter is the surest way to take most of them down, as it still only takes one shot after a successful melee counter to destroy an enemy.

Not too far into Ferenia, I come to another EMMI zone. I was hoping I might get a break from the EMMI for a little bit, but it looks like I have to face another one right away. Fine by me.

This area is difficult to traverse. The bottom half is filled with water, which makes you slow and you can’t outrun the EMMI if you’re running through water, you can’t jump over it, either. I try to get through the area several times, but run right into the EMMI most times, and get caught. However, I am starting to get enough practice with the melee counter move to get away from the EMMI that I’m starting to pull it off reliably. I’m still only hitting it about 1/3 to 1/2 of the time, but that’s a big improvement over my skill before. My problem is that I always hit the button much too early, but I’m starting to overcome my instinct and waiting the extra beat necessary to pull it off.

It doesn’t help much, because once you’re caught, you can’t get away when you’re underwater unless you’re very lucky and have some stealth cloak energy. But mostly hiding from the EMMI with the stealth cloak is delaying the inevitable. It patrols and almost finds you, then walks away, and just when you think you’re safe, it doubles back and re-investigates the spot you were hiding in. Usually you run out of the energy that powers the stealth cloak and then it starts draining your life energy. Your movement speed is reduced even further by having stealth mode active, which means you can barely move underwater, and can’t jump to the underwater platforms that you need to climb on to escape when you’re cloaked, making the cloak next to useless.

After about 10 or so tries, I finally figure out that the best route to take is the upper route, and that now that I have the spin boost move, it’s a lot easier than it looks to go this way. Remembering the newly acquired ability is important! I make a run for it, and get to the second room, where I briefly do need to cloak myself in order to throw EMMI off the trail, fortunately in this room you can make significant progress through it while cloaked. I get to a door on the opposite side and escape the EMMI’s territory, and find myself next to another door that leads to the Map Room for this zone. I download the map data and also save.

The only way out is back the way I came, through the EMMI zone, and into harms way again. I instinctively don’t go back by the same route, instead opting to go upwards and to the left, into an area of the map I haven’t explored yet. I find a false ceiling that I can bomb through, and take this route up and then go to the right as far as I’m able to, and find another save point. Why they put another save point so close to the Map Room, I don’t understand. But I’ve seen it many times in this game that the save points seem to be clustered in certain areas of each zone.

There’s a door to the right of the save room, but it’s locked an I can’t open it, so the only way to go again is back left. This time I have no choice but to go back into another EMMI patrol zone, this one vertically above the one I came through to get to this point. I have to move quickly, the EMMI is on my tail almost immediately, but I am quick and make it up, where I have two doorways. I notice that the left is an EMMI zone door, so if I take it, the EMMI can’t follow me; I decide this is the best option for now, and take it. Here, I find an energy recharge station, which I don’t need, and a glowing green block that I can’t move or destroy by any known means. I’ve seen a number of these blocks and I still don’t have the capability to move them.

I can see then that my only way forward is to the right. I go back into the EMMI zone and take the right door, and I have a long run through an underwater area. I move as quickly as I can, enabling my cloak at the last second before the EMMI latches on to my trail. Then, cloaked, I move to the right as far as I can, until I have to start making jumps to climb up on to platforms that I can’t reach while cloaked. I de-cloak, and just hope I’m fast enough. The EMMI starts giving chase almost immediately, but I’m far enough ahead of it that I’m able to get out of the water. At this point, there’s a door to my left, but it only goes back into the room I just came though a moment ago. Above me is a sliding track magnet panel on the ceiling. Grabbing this, I zip across to the right end of the room, right over the EMMI as it’s about to close in on me. I jump down and to my right is an exit to the EMMI patrol zone. I’m safe, I did it.

I get through the door and find the way leads downward. There’s a door to the left, which I blast open using a charge shot. It’s the right side door to the save room I was just in a few minutes ago. So now I have opened it, and this makes it a shortcut that avoids that whole area I just had to survive.

I save again, and then proceed to the right. There’s a tunnel that I have to turn into morph ball to get through, and it takes me into an area where I find a full E-Tank, a Total Recharge Station, and an empty room with a large statue. I expect a power-up to be given here, but it’s just an empty room, apparently. I can continue going to the right, and since it seems to be the only other unexplored area, that’s what I do.

I go through a short tunnel and emerge into a room that appears to be along the outer walls of the building. Outside I can see sky, and there’s a lot of wind, and some X-infested creatures flying around outside. But there doesn’t seem to be a way to get outside. I use the Pulse Radar ability and see that there’s breakable blocks above and below. Above turns out to be a dead end, but below I make progress, and find a boss room.

This boss is called Escue. It’s an X-corrupted scarab-like creature, that flies above and is invulnerable to attacks when it has its shell shut. When it attacks, it opens its shell, and is vulnerable to charge shots and missiles, briefly. Its attacks are all but impossible to dodge, and deal tremendous damage such that I can sustain only about 4 or 5 hits before I drop. It’s not easy to aim at it while I’m dodging, and if I don’t focus 100% on dodging, I get hit, and even when all I do is dodge, I still get hit most of the time.

Escue has a few different attacks: A black ball that launches out at me, then if it doesn’t hit me directly, it sits on the floor and does damage in a burst of energy after a few seconds. It also has a stream of black worm-like things that fly out at me. Finally, it can rush at me, and when it does this it doesn’t seem to have a counter. There’s no distinctive white flash that tips off a melee counter is possible, or if there is it’s so hard to see I can’t pick it up.

This is the toughest boss I’ve had to face yet, mainly due to its mostly invulnerability and how hard its attacks are to dodge.

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.