I’m still having trouble getting to sleep. Ever since starting the game I’ve had this weird anxious feeling, like I needed to be ready for something. I’m not entirely pleased with what I’ve seen, that grey creature gives off a very bad vibe. But I’m not ready to quit just yet.

World 4, Amorphis.

amorphis

amorphisboard

Green board with 4 level types;

RUIN
FALLS
REEF
DEPTH
“RUIN” is a level of flooded temple ruins. It has a dismal atmosphere to it. Some of the platforms sink into the water after being stepped on. I don’t know if the water is harmful or not, but I won’t chance it.

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I’ve noticed a pattern: creatures that stand still when you walk up to them are usually okay to talk to. The things that are constantly moving around either don’t respond, or they attack. Right here is a something that’s standing still so I’ll say hello:

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strong
He seems bitter. Since I’m conversing with one of these, I’m going to ask it something I’ve wanted to find out. Which is how exactly these creatures can hear what I’m saying.

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He’s a little smartass, apparently. I doubt he’ll be saying anything useful so I’m moving on.

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The level is sparsely populated by creatures, most of them are these things that leap and bite. I’m glad I’m going through here with Rodan because I can fly over them.

After browsing through the level for a minute I found Usol! Let’s see how he’s doing.

ruins4

usol1

He’s not doing too well. The poor guy’s lost his home from the sound of it. I don’t know what to do other than say I feel bad for him. It’s a really strange feeling trying to comfort something that lives in a video game.

Then I ask him if he knows anything about a password.

usol2

I feel conflicted by Usol’s response. While I’m happy that I got a password, I’m also worried by this “They” that he mentions. Who are “they”, and why would they come after him? I try to ask him to explain, but he starts to fly away.

ruins5

Might as well see what this password does. Heading back to the Transcendence Project and…
We’re in!

It’s rather strange that Usol got a code that works for this. I was under the impression that his “world” was separate from this game menu stuff. Makes me curious as to how he got it, but anyway, let’s see this “Project”.

proj1

It appears to be some kind of journal, with separate entries as readable text scrolls..

This…makes no sense. Why is there a written document about the cartridge IN the cartridge? How did it get there? Did this doctor disassemble it and encode his own journal into the game? Why would he do that?

Nothing to do but start reading.

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proj3

Seems as if someone donated this game to a lab and some scientists ran tests on it. The journal doesn’t say who the donor was or how they knew where to send the game. Nor does it say what exactly the problem with the game is, it’s only referred to as an “Anomaly”.

The rest of the entries describe tests done with the game. I’ll post screencaps of some of the more interesting ones.

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proj6

proj7

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The last two entries are alarming.

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To be honest I didn’t really believe a lot of Zachary’s testimony about his game ended, with the paralysis. I figured he was playing some weird modded game and was getting caught up in his own imagination. But this bit about “Jeremy” having a seizure is making me rethink it. And judging from this, Zach is the only person to have completed the game in it’s “anomaly” form.

“Group Test Day 13”, dated September 21, 1997, is the last entry in the journal. Either the project was abruptly ended at this point, or the rest of the journal has not been recorded on this. While this does give a bit of insight about the game, it raises more questions than it answers. Assuming that this is even legitimate, that is. These entries are very short for what’s supposed to be a professional experiment.

But real or not, I still don’t understand how it’s even in the game. The journal itself isn’t lending me any answers, and I don’t see anything else to look at on this page except the journal entries. So I’m going back to Amorphis to complete it.

waterf1

“FALLS” is a waterfall level. Mostly the same as RUINS, just walking through and jumping over pits. Enemies here are the 1998 Godzilla, a giant lobster, and some more of those jumping creatures. The music is faster in pace and sounds more threatening.

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The end of the level has you right at the waterfall, having to jump across blocks that come down the falls. Very much like those parts in Mario Bros 2, except it’s a little harder because Godzilla’s jumping is awkward. Jumping creatures come down from the top of the screen every few minutes.

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Time for another boss!

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“Dagahra” is an aquatic reptile that alternates between crawling and flying around. When he flies, he releases starfish that attach to Godzilla and then explode.

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His last trick is to spin around rapidly, creating a whirlwind that blocks the heat beam, and makes it hard to attack him. The only thing that works against this is the tail whip.

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From there, it’s onto the Reef.
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In this underwater stage, Godzilla can actually swim! I don’t recall him doing that in the game before. I’m very glad to see more health boosters, that bastard Dagahra nearly took out Godzilla.

Godzilla actually handles better underwater than he does on land, although there are some drawbacks. He can’t kick or tail-whip, unless you go to a surface and stand on it.

The fish are peaceful but the octopus will try to grab Godzilla if he gets too close, and there’s more lobsters. They also move faster underwater.

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An unsettling sight- a creature tied to a rock. He must have gotten on someone’s bad side and they decided to drown him.

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At the end of REEF is a mini-boss, a long necked aquatic dinosaur. He fights a lot like Godzilla, but doesn’t have a heat beam. Instead he opens up his tail and knocks back with a blast of air/water/something. Lack of ranged weapons makes him easier to deal with than Dagahra.

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“DEPTH” is another swimming stage, this time at the ocean floor. Very eerie music, and it’s hard to see. Not a good sign.

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I don’t know what this is, but I don’t like it.

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Uh-oh. Looks like the drowning wasn’t an isolated incident..

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At least there’s spare health laying around(These enemies doesn’t give any after being destroyed). God only knows what I might run into down here.

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Like this dragon. I thought this was going to be a problem at first, but when I went to cross, he just stood there. Which is nice.

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Maybe if I keep going left I’ll find the exit.
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NOPE.
Alright, after about 10 minutes of swimming around, I seem to be getting somewhere. I figure I’m at the ocean floor, nowhere lower to be, so the direction to go is up. Freakish mermaids have started swarming on me, so I must be close.

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Going up led me out of the depths and into a waterfall stage, this one is set at night. I ran into this green character and then this happened:

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I think I know who Usol’s afraid of.

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Let’s see how he likes getting blasted.

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I wonder why he left after being attacked. Too cowardly to stay and fight? I doubt it.

 

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This fight was fairly easy until “Odia” gave me a surprise-

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Turns out it can shapeshift. What’s worse is not only it’s heat beam is as powerful as mine, now it moves even faster.

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It switches between Godzilla and it’s true form every few seconds. After losing a lot of life, it dives downward towards some underwater caves.

Odia hides inside them and sticks it’s head out to spew green spheres, which stick and make it hard to move. Then Odia rushes forward to ram Godzilla into spiked walls.

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It’s an interesting tactic, in fact I’m going to use it myself.

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Another one bites the dust.

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And there’s another world completed. I wonder what happened to those people who were part of the project…

I should have gone to work today, but I decided to stay home “sick”. I’m not really that sick, but I haven’t slept very well for the past few days. Not because of nightmares (I haven’t remembered my dreams for a while), but because I can’t stop thinking about the game.

I’m enjoying the game somewhat, but I got this feeling that if I keep playing I’m gonna see something that I shouldn’t.

Anyway, I don’t see much point in messing around with the password screen any longer until I have some combinations that will get real results. And the only way to get those is to go through the game, so onto World 3.
corona

coronaboard

World 3 is “Corona”, it has a purple board and 4 level types. This world probably won’t take long to complete since the boss is only 3 spaces above my starting point. That strikes me as a little odd since the Gelid boss was 15 spaces away. Since the path is so short I could get through in a few minutes, but I’m going to try not to rush it. The levels here are;

POWER PLANT
REFLECT
PATZER
FOREST

And one boss, which is King Kong. It surprises me to see such a big name character showing up. I’m not aware of any connection between Godzilla and Kong but I guess it doesn’t matter.

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The Power Plant is a dark, ominous looking level of granite bricks, storm clouds, and power poles. The efficiency of this place is questionable since the power poles lack connective wires. The music has an electronic synth to it.

Going further on I encounter some peculiar enemies, and see that a few of the power poles have electric chairs connected to them, some of which are occupied by dead (or soon to be dead) creatures. Every minute or so a bolt of lightning will strike down and light up the screen.

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The power poles appear to function as a combination of a lightning rod and a generator, getting their power from lightning strikes which kill the creature in the chair as the electricity surges downward. So it’s both a power plant and an execution field (lovely).

Since these poles attract the lightning, the only danger of being shocked is if I stand right next to one when it gets hit.
Not too hard to get around, but with all these sad things screaming in pain as their brains get fried, it’s not a welcoming atmosphere. The level is a straight walk to the right, so with no potential for exploration I make my way through quickly.

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“REFLECT” is a castle-esque level with a lot of mirrors. It has a strange background, and equally strange music. Like the crystals in Isolation Zone, the mirrors here serve as teleporters.

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It takes some guessing as to which mirror to go through, but the level doesn’t seem very large. I can only hope I’ll be shown some indication that I’m progressing towards the end instead of going around in circles.

The mirrors are different from crystals in that creatures can come through the mirrors at random. Usually it’s those little flying creatures made of broken glass. I hate those bastards because you take damage if you touch them.

While traversing i found another creature that talks:
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pretty

I tried to get it to tell me a password but it was too preoccupied.

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It took a little while, but I eventually got to this mini-boss, who I assume is guarding the exit. He moves quick but he can’t do much damage. I’ve got the advantage this time since there’s a lot more space to move around, so his lightning bolt is easily avoided.

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What do we have here?

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Ah, Rodan! A monster I actually recognize! That’s great, can’t wait to test him out. I just remembered I haven’t fought King Kong yet. I’m tempted to use Rodan, but I’ll use Godzilla for this one. Don’t know what to expect.

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Damn, he’s tougher than I expected. He’s dodging my attacks and knocking off too much of my health.

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In the middle of the fight the game suddenly started to glitch very badly:

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Weird, but I’m not complaining. Now it’s Rodan Time! Onto “Patzer”….
Before the level starts I’m told to “seize a king”?

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Oh, I get it. It’s a chess-themed level.

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It doesn’t involve actually playing chess though. That’s a damn good thing, because I haven’t played chess in 8 years.

Rodan’s a great addition, does almost everything Godzilla can and he can also fly. It’s only my first impression, but he seems like a promising character and I’m sure the flying will come in handy later.

As for the level, the black and white chess guys can’t pay much attention to me since they’re also fighting each other. So that makes flying around and looking for one of the kings simple.

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I don’t think it matters which king I get, so I’m just gonna go after the first one I see.

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Ah, there’s one!

So I go up and hit him and then the level ends with another info screen.

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That’s great for the Black Team. I’m glad that level’s over because it was starting to mess with my eyes. Let’s see what the Forest is like;

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Yup, looks like a typical forest level. The music is unnerving. Going to the right, as usual…

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Out of nowhere these huge bat things start divebombing from the trees. They’re hunting down the brown creatures. Trying to get out of the way before I get bit.

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I got away from the sideways mouth bats, there weren’t many of them. Not much of anything down through here.

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…why did everything lose color? And the music changed, but-

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2rcu6hl

dg2u7s
…I don’t know what the hell that was.

Maybe I should just turn this thing off.
Then again, all I had left to do was the boss fight…

 

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exalton2

This guy is a lot more mobile than the previous boss was, also uses his ranged attack almost constantly. Normally this would just drain his power down to nothing-

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-Except that he can go up to the top of the arena, get hit by lightning, and become re-charged. I can get in some easy hits while he does this, but once he get powered back up, he immediately does a lightning attack that fills a length of the screen.

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He doesn’t seem to have any attacks other than lightning, so I wait for that power meter to go down and then hit him with everything. It’s just a matter of time.

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And with one good kick to the face he’s done!

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I don’t know why, but for some reason it feels good to see another symbol in that wall. I would like to see the thing complete, but then maybe that’s not such a good idea. That ….thing in the forest gave me a really bad feeling. And it’s not going to be happy if it knows I’m coming back.

I’m not sure what to think about this game. I sent my Chapter 1 write-up to Zach to get his thoughts on it, to see if he could give an insight on what it was doing.

“I told you before, I don’t know how the game does these things.  If you’re suggesting I put these graphics in the game myself, you’re mistaken because this is the first I’ve seen of any of it.

It looks like the game has recreated itself again since I played it. That’s not a good sign.

Not a very helpful response, but oh well. I don’t know what I expected him to say anyway. As for the game, I’m heading into World 2 today.

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It’s called “Gelid”. No more actual planets?

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And here’s the Gelid board. Glad to see that I have Godzilla! There’s quite a variety of levels here. That evil looking symbol at the bottom right must be my exit. I hope I don’t meet up with Red in here.

By pressing Select on the level icons I discovered that these levels all have their own names, which are:

“TUNDRA”

“ICE CAVE”

“ISOLATION ZONE”

“LOST WAY”

“TEMPLE OF SILENCE”

“SIN”

The first two sound reasonable enough. But the others, I have no idea. I’ll start with a Tundra level.

TUNDRA

tundra1

The Tundra is about what I expected. It’s quite pretty to look at.  Godzilla plays like normal, but he moves slightly faster, which is nice. The music here is a new track which has a subtle yet foreboding vibe to it. It has a definite “wintery” sound, and seems more advanced than the usual NES music.

tundra3

Stage creatures are no longer dinosaurs, instead the Tundra is populated with various weird beasts. I suspect this will be the case for the rest of the game, but I don’t know.

There’s not a whole lot going on in here. I don’t have to use many attacks because most of the creatures here are non-aggressive. It’s rather calming.

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The snowfall has turned into a blizzard. It’s hard to see and I’m coming across more and more bodies buried in the snow.

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The snow went berserk and made it almost impossible to see when I reached the end of the level. When it started coming down like this I could tell that that my observation time was over, so I got to the end quickly.

There wasn’t much resistance from enemies. Actually, I didn’t come across anything living near the end.

ICE CAVE

icecave1

After having to deal with the blizzard, I’m somewhat glad that this level is “indoors”. I can’t go left for obvious reasons, so I head on to the right. The music is very odd – somewhere between “relaxing” and “mind-numbing”.

icecave2

These blue creatures are enemies that chase me around. They don’t deal much damage but I prefer to outrun them, trying to conserve my health.

There are numerous spiked pits I have to jump over, it’s a tricky to do so without running into the beasts. You can see me failing at that in the screenshot.

icecave3

I also have trouble with these things that use freeze breath. They seem to hone in on my presence and wait to attack at the most inconvenient spot.

icecave4

The level ends with a mini-boss fight against this crystal covered creature. There’s very little room to move without getting stabbed by icicles, though the boss doesn’t seem affected by them. He moves fast and can spin in the air, but he’s not much tougher than the other enemies.
ganimesfight1

The 1st real boss is a crab called “Ganimes”. Maybe that’s a Godzilla monster, I’ve never heard of it before.

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Fight was quite easy. The crab moves forward and back while snapping with it’s claws, then jumps and spits. I made short work of it by constantly kicking it in the face.

Things are going pretty well so far, but I’m only halfway through.

ISOLATION  ZONE

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This level is some kind of platform in space surrounded by floating crystals. Very slow, lonely sounding music playing in here. Some of the crystals have baby-like things inside them, which I can knock out by punching the crystal.

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zone3

When I punch an empty crystal, it takes me to a small, boxed-in area. I went into 4 crystal rooms, the first was the screenshot above, the second was the same except the room was empty.

The third sent me to a frozen corridor where I had to run past snake monsters that emerge from holes in the wall.

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And the fourth sent me to this little character. I walked up to him and a text screen came up, he had something to say;

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Um….citation needed? No seriously, I don’t get it.

And that was the end of the level apparently.
Another boss fight, this time the opponent is a giant turtle called “Kamoebas”.

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It’s slower than Ganimes and doesn’t have any ranged attacks. But it’s more damage resistant, and doesn’t seem to move in a set pattern.

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Sometimes it extends it’s neck out to bite me, but it’s easily avoided. I’m getting a little concerned by how low my health is. I can only hope the game increases my life meter soon.

LOST  WAY

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Lost Way is also a floating level like Isolation Zone, except with a cloudy background and numerous platforms. The music is gentle and calm, sounds like a lullaby. I proceed in the direction of the arrows (though I would have gone to the right anyway).

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This level has me on edge because I can’t always tell if I’m going to land on a platform when I jump or if I’ll just make Godzilla fall to his death.

It might seem like the platforms are densely packed from the screenshots, but it’s more like there are clusters of platforms throughout the level, some of which have wide spaces in between them. I’m having to make many “leaps of faith”.

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There are plenty of creatures here, some of which are enemies from previous levels. Among them is the ice breather(damn it). It’s easier to get rid of them here than it was in the caves, because I can make them fall off the blocks. I kill all the ice breathers I see to prevent having one of them freeze me mid-jump.

After wandering around for a few minutes I found this platform of gold blocks that moves up and down. It took me down to an area with a blue dinosaur (why is everything blue in Gelid?), which I thought was an enemy at first, but instead of attacking it started following me around.

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As the dinosaur and I march on, we see many other creatures wandering around, looking just as confused as us. That’s when I realized that the arrows don’t actually lead anywhere, they’re intended to lead the occupants of this place into dead ends.

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So now I’m ignoring the arrows, and instead looking for the gold blocks. I’ve got no idea which direction the exit might be, but I have a hunch that those will lead me to it.

There’s also something that looks a floating blob of snow. Don’t know what that’s about.

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After using two more gold elevator blocks we found this little guy, who spoke:

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I felt sorry for the poor whatsit, so without even thinking about it I blurted out “Sure.”

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He responded to what I said, and that freaked me out. I hadn’t pressed any buttons or anything, but “Usol” heard my voice…somehow.

It made me jump, but Usol seems harmless enough. So I’m gonna keep on looking for the exit.

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Aaand we found the exit. Took about 6 minutes of backtracking, the exit ended up being somewhere behind the spot where I started.

TEMPLE OF SILENCE

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Right from the start, an enemy comes crawling at me. It’s a slug looking thing with it’s arms tied and mouth sewn shut. It has no attacks except running at me. There is no music, or any other sound here.

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There’s lot of enemies in this level, I’m attempting to jump over/run past them. The temple appears to be nothing but a hallway of enemies.

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Got to the edge of the hall. There was a drop which put me at another hall beneath the first one, going back to the left.

I don’t have a lot to say about this level, except that it has some damned strange looking enemies in it, and the complete lack of sound gives me an uncomfortable feeling. Not to mention the statues.

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Here I am going through the end of the level. Lots of those ugly multi-face head things are floating around.

And that’s the last of the Gelid levels. Well, almost. Still have get through “SIN”.

Before I dive in there, I’m trying to figure out what this might be. The name is very vague, but suggests that this will be something unpleasant. The level icon doesn’t give me any hints.

..Yeah I don’t know. Here goes nothing –

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It’s a boss fight! I should have known. As soon as I heard the music I could tell this would be a boss.

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Got up close and heat beamed, but he kicked me. It didn’t do much damage, but I’ve only got 4 bars left so I can’t take too many hits.

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I try to run up and hit hit and get smacked aside, if I’m too far away he starts using a freeze beam out of his eye. The only way to beat him is to keep moving constantly.

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The “hyperactive squirrel” method of battle proved to be a winner. Lethar eventually grabbed Godzilla, and that’s when he got a heat beam to the face.

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After Lethar died, an image of a gate appeared on the screen. It had 7 holes, one had Lethar’s icon in it and the other 6 were empty…

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After pressing Start I’m sent back to the Title screen. Turning the game off for now.

Well, that was….insane. While playing the game I got so wrapped up in it that I sorta forgot that none of this should have been happening.

The game does seem to follow specific themes, with everything in Gelid being cold and blue, but for the most part… agh. I feel like there’s a traffic jam going on in my brain. I need to take a break.

The connection between the tv and computer is all set and ready to take screenshots.  I guess I’m ready to begin too. Here goes nothing…

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Okay, the opening screen looks the same. If this is like Zach’s game there won’t be anything noticeable until the first boss fight, but I’m gonna be disappointed if this whole game ends up playing normally.

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Only a few seconds in and already something’s off. I almost didn’t notice, but the “Last Game” option is gone.  I don’t know why, as usually it would have done the same thing as “New Game”.

Oh god, I really hope this doesn’t mean that I can’t save.  I don’t want to have to play this entire game in one sitting.

Maybe the world titles will work as passwords or something. No way to know until I start playing.

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It skipped the Solar System Intro entirely. That’s a shame, I like hearing that music.

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…What the? What is this? This isn’t what the Earth board is supposed to look like. And I don’t have Godzilla or Mothra?

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Holy shit!

Looks like I don’t have to worry about not seeing anything new. Nothing in that above screenshot was in the original game, besides the life meter. I don’t think any of it was in Zachary’s playthrough either. The only other thing that seems to have remained the same is the music.

My lone playable character is this dinosaur. Since the meter refers to it as GODZILLA, I assume this is him prior to getting mutated.  So no heat beam (yet). It can only attack by punching and biting.

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There isn’t much in this jungle aside from other dinosaurs. The pterodactyls divebomb me when I get close, most of the others either attack or run away. Sometimes when I kill one of these I get a health power-up, (which looks the same as the original).  It’s a short level, I got to the end in less than 2 minutes. I’ll try the blue and yellow icon next.

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This level is a beach, as you can see. Those little crabs are a pain, they jump and latch on while draining health. But they don’t take much punishment and give health when they die, so it balances out. Only problem is that they’re everywhere in this level. I try to jump over them when I can.

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In the second half of the level, there’s less of the crabs and more of these aquatic dinosaur/fish enemies that emerge from pits. I’ve played quite a few platformers in my day, so this is nothing difficult. It isn’t scary either, but it’s giving me a weird feeling. It’s hard to explain. It’s like if I hadn’t tried out the real game before, I might not have known anything was out of place.

For a “supernatural game”, so far it’s just playing like a normal game. But not the game that it should be. None of these dinosaurs or levels are supposed to be here, and I have no idea where they came from.

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This 3rd level is very glitched. No enemies at all, and my Godzilla dinosaur is flashing and his body parts are rearranging themselves with every step. The music is similarly distorted, it’s slowed down and has a lower pitch.

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I was going through the level, trying to figure what went wrong with it, when I suddenly got attacked by a very glitched Ghidorah! I almost freaked out because there was no way I would win a fight against Ghidorah like this. But then the game froze and made a loud buzzing sound, then it returned to the board like nothing happened. Weird.

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The last level type is another jungle. It has the same graphics, but this time its set at night. The dinosaurs here are different, and a lot more aggressive. They come from the left and the right sides of the screen, so I have to pay attention to both.

I’m attacking the small dinosaurs for the power-up and avoiding the rest, because I’m fairly certain the triceratops at the end of the board is a boss fight. I don’t know what to expect from it, but I don’t want to be low on health.

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The level is longer than the others, and I notice a strange kind of teamwork occurring with the enemies. The blue raptors will follow my dinosaur around and keep jumping at him, knocking me back into the path of the larger dinosaurs.

There’s another large dinosaur of the same color that does a similar thing, charging at me and inflicting damage until I either get away or kill them. It’s like these dinosaurs hate me for some reason!

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Here I am at the boss fight. There’s a nuke going down in the background, and the battle is timed at 1 minute. This must be the decisive hour when the dinosaur becomes Godzilla. I guess this triceratops must be the strongest animal on the island, a rival. Better take him down now, or else a very different King of The Monsters will arise.

He doesn’t have much attack variety, he seems to be limited to charging. I jump when he does it and then assault him with everything I got (which isn’t much).

He went down with only 4 seconds to go. No time to outrun the bomb, but it seems I wasn’t supposed to. A “cutscene” starts to play:

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When it ends, the game goes back to the Game Select menu. “New Game” has been replaced by “Continue”.

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And that’s World 1. For my first impression…. I’m not sure what to say. I feel a bit overwhelmed. Where did all of this come from? And why?

PROLOGUE

Hello everyone. My name is Carl, and I have just obtained a game with quite a story behind it. Maybe you’ve already heard about Zach and his NES Godzilla cartridge? I wasn’t aware of it until I saw the eBay auction, and it really grabbed my interest.

I skimmed through the recounting of what the game supposedly did. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but something about the whole thing just captivated me, and I decided to buy the game. I thought if nothing else, I’d get a new game and a nice conversation piece. I used Buy-it-now and got it for a decent price, $10 including shipping.

Zach sent me an e-mail and we talked for a bit. He seems like a decent guy despite being a bit loopy and dramatic. He made it clear that he was dead serious about the game being unnatural and dangerous. I still wasn’t entirely convinced, but I played along.

About myself and the game: I actually never played NES Godzilla, at least not with the actual cartridge. After I won the bid I played the game on an emulator a bit to see what it was like, and also so I could point out noticeable differences (if there were any) later on. The first 2 worlds were decent fun, but it got boring pretty quick.

I’m not a Godzilla expert. I liked watching the movies when I was a little kid, but that was a long time ago. I hardly remember any of the monsters except for the really famous ones like Rodan and Mothra. So if the game starts throwing a bunch of obscure Godzilla related stuff at me, I might not catch it.

And here is the game cartridge itself:

4c06706c61dad112420n

There’s nothing visibly wrong with it, no weird marks or anything that would make it stand out. If it got misplaced and sorted in with some regular games, you’d never know the difference.

I haven’t actually started playing the game yet. I’m still in the process of hooking up the tv to the computer so I can take screencaps in the event that things get interesting. For now, here’s a photo I took of the title screen starting up:

titlephoto

I am Zachary, and at the time I write this, it has been three weeks since the fateful night when I played the NES Godzilla game.

Going back to that night, to immediately after I turned off the NES. Once I was able to start walking around again, the first thing I did was unplug the NES, take out the cartridge, and put them in separate sock drawers.

I looked over at the computer. All the screenshots you’ve seen in the story were saved. I backed up all the images on a flash drive before I turned the computer off, just in case. After that, I hit the bed and instantly passed out. It was not a restful sleep, but one of complete exhaustion. It felt like no time has passed before I awoke again.

And what a day that was. The first thought I recall coming to mind was “…What the hell happened last night?” I thought about it for a short while, until it occurred to me to contact the person I got the game from to begin with – Billy. So I called him up, and told him to just come over to my apartment, which he did.

And I showed him the screenshots, and gave him a very basic summary of what had happened. At first he thought I was pulling a joke on him, but he soon realized that was not the case. Once it hit him that this was real, he was speechless.
He made it clear that he had absolutely not tampered with the game, and had no idea about any of this.

So then the obvious question was asked to Billy; “Where did YOU get it from?” I got the simple answer of “Another friend of mine that I trade games with.” He assured me that this was a trustworthy person, and he had never had any issues with games he got from him before. So then Billy called him. But when we told this guy the story, he was as shocked and surprised as anyone, except he abruptly hung up on us. This clearly was going nowhere.

Before Billy left that day, he asked me if I wanted him to take the cartridge and dispose of it. I sharply declined. He asked how I could possibly still want to keep the thing. I told him that I needed time to think it over, and that was that.
Billy and I haven’t talked much since. Even though I’ve told him this isn’t the case, I get the impression that Billy thinks what happened with the game is his fault.

After he left that day, I did a lot of thinking.

It was very hard for me to do anything else, really. I couldn’t stop thinking about the game, there were so many questions left unanswered. What WAS Red? Was Melissa really in the game? How did she get there? Why did all this happen with THIS game?

But the one question that kept me for many nights was:

“Red said he had ‘known me for a long time’. How?”

Ever since then, I can’t shake this feeling of being watched.

The game made me ask myself questions about death and reality in ways that I never wanted to think about. I’m not too sure of anything anymore. Constantly thinking about it soon began to have a negative impact on my life. I just didn’t care about anything else at this point. By comparison, all the other day-to-day activities seemed utterly pointless.

I eventually decided that I had to choose between one of two things: Try to play the game again, or destroy it. I tried several times to convince myself to try the former, but I never got farther than plugging the NES back up. Just touching the cartridge made me remember all the pain I felt during the fight with Red.

I wondered if perhaps playing the game again myself might cause something terrible to happen. I didn’t know anything about how this “game” worked, and it was too risky. I wasn’t sure I could stand another round of the game anyway.

So then it was time for the other option. Wanting to get some fresh air, I took the game with me and drove to the lake, planning to throw it in. I got up to the lake with the cartridge in my hands, and I look down on it and…I thought of Melissa. If what I had experienced in the game was indeed genuine, doing what I did may have been the only way to save her from endless torture. In a way, this warped game might have saved her soul.

Damn it. Once that thought came into my head, I knew then I wouldn’t be able to destroy it. So I just sat down at a bench, gazing at the lake for about an hour. Ultimately, I decided on a third option: selling the game on EBay.

It may be selfish, but I promise you that it has nothing to do with money. I don’t care how much or little I get paid for this game, believe me. It’s selfish because I don’t want the responsibility of owning this cartridge anymore. I cannot dwell on this forever, and the only way I can deal with this, is by putting the game out of my life.

So this brings me to the main reasons I created a summary of these events; first is to record the details while I can remember them, and second is that whoever bids on this game knows what they’re getting into. I can’t guarantee the safety of anyone else who plays the game, or that anything will happen at all. But to the new owner of the gamer, remember this; Be careful, and if you feel as if the game is literally messing with your mind, SHUT THE DAMN THING OFF.

After his seeming defeat by Solomon, Red had reconstructed his body into his gigantic Final Form, transporting us to a blazing inferno in the process. It was reminiscent of our first encounter. Except now the scenery,much like the true power of Red, had become very real. The music had erupted into a loud blaring sound, a furious drum of death.

Faced against Red’s insane amount of health, my own demise was imminent.

Final Red 1

Solomon was my strongest monster. But not even he stood a chance. It was like trying to fight a mountain.

Final Red 2

Within seconds Solomon was overpowered and dropped to the floor, when Red crushed him to death underneath his foot. The sadistic demon took his time as he snapped Solomon’s vertebrae and ribs like dry, brittle twigs. I could tell he was enjoying our pain.

Final Red 3

weak

“This is hopeless. I’m a dead man.”

I had to no choice but to send another monster to his death. We were all going to die. I only hoped they would forgive me.

Final Red 4

After decreasing Red’s health by a miniscule amount, Anguirus was also obliterated. Red unleashed a hail of blazing hot needles into his face, until he collapsed.

Final Red 5

Another moment of unspeakable agony, then nothingness as my ally faded away.

you cant win

I asked Red how he knew my name.

And then, he said it.

secret

red confess

For years she was being tortured by something nobody understood. Now I knew what it was.

Now I understood why I was mocked about Melissa’s death, and how the game knew about it. Because HE knew about it, because HE was the one responsible. And this time, he was going to kill me.

futile

I was taken back to the board to send Godzilla to his final stand. Barely anything was left of the board, just Godzilla and Red’s icons, and…

boardremains

…the fifth monster.

In the midst of everything that was happening, I had completely forgotten about it. I tried yet again to select it. I cursed, I begged,I screamed at it to do something, ANYTHING to help me. To no avail.

There was only one thing to do.

Final Red 6

Final Red 7

Final Red 8

Final Red 9

I knew Godzilla didn’t stand any more of a chance than the rest did. But maybe, maybe now that all the other monsters were gone, the fifth monster might finally awaken.

I managed to get the creaure’s icon selected, and I pressed the A button as fast as I could. The icon started to shake, as if it were trying desperately to move!

It was then that Red decided he was done playing fair, and before I could activate the monster, he went for the killing blow: paralyzing my heart.

My hands started to become numb and unfeeling, but even as my vision was fading away, I still tried to pressed the A button.

gameover

Red surely was breaking one of his rules, but he must have thought that if he could kill me quickly, then it would be too late for any consequences to matter, he would have won.

He was wrong.

gameover

 

notyet

stuggle

struggle 2

Red’s power was being challenged by another force. It prevented him from killing me, and when I regained my vision I saw a familiar sight:

blueangel1

“…Who are you?”

blueangel2

“What? How is that possible! I…Red told me that he killed you…”

blueangel3

blue angel 4

“But how will I be able to stop him now?”

blueangel5

blueangel6

Her words stirred something inside of me. I wasn’t going to die like this. And I had more to fight her for than just my own life, I had to fight to save Melissa, and the world she inhabits.

With her help, the 5th monster was finally unleashed:

thegoldenlight

It was time to end this, once and for all. Together, we would take this damned hellspawn out of existence.

AcaciusvsRed1

cantsaveyou

Acacius was by far the strongest playable monster in the game. He had to be, if we were to have any chance of surviving. His “punch” involved turning his hands into blades, which caused tremendous damage. But Red had more than enough life to spare. In the end, this would come down to pure skill:

AcaciusvsRed2

AcaciusvsRed3

AcaciusvsRed4

AcaciusvsRed5

AcaciusvsRed6

AcaciusvsRed7

AcaciusvsRed8

With one final strike, Red was destroyed. His body disintegrated and sank below, accompanied by a soar of triumphant music. Slowly, the paralysis wore off, and I was able to stand up again!

Reddeath1

Reddeath2

Reddeath3

Reddeath4

Reddeath5

We had done it. Melissa’s death had been avenged, and I felt overwhelming happiness…until I remembered all the death and pain that led up to this point. All the other monsters who had fought and died. I was about to mourn them, but the game had yet to conclude.

rise

ending1

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Tears of joy streamed down my face, and I broke out crying. I cried harder than I have in several years, maybe in whole life. All I had been through, all I had discovered, and now the game was coming to an end. But before she and the others left, Melissa had something to tell me:

ending5

 

ending6

ending7

ending8

“Oh dear god.”

That was my first thought on realizing I would have to fight “Red”, the creature that tormented me through nearly the whole game.How would I be able to fight something that can kill with one touch? It seemed totally impossible.

Thankfully, Red was no longer able to deliver one hit kills. But despite that, this was still the most difficult battle I’ve ever faced, in this game or otherwise. If I had any real comprehension of what I was getting into before I started the fight, I would never have done it.

I very soon learned what a horrible mistake I had made. Red reached out and clawed at Godzilla. And when those claws cut through him, I felt it.

First Blood

I know that it’s common for people to cringe up when their video game character gets hit or loses a life. But this was not that. This was genuine, physical pain.

When the pain struck me I paused the game. I hadn’t suffered any actual injuries, but it felt just like my shoulder had been clawed through. I had seen and experienced many unpleasant things at this point, but the game causing me real pain was where I drew the line. Yes, I would be disappointed that I wouldn’t get to see the ending, but the risk was no longer worth it. I was about to get up to take one last screenshot and turn off the NES, when I realized something else-

-I couldn’t get up.

I was paralyzed to my seat. The only muscles I could move were my fingers and thumbs. As the terror set in, a new message appeared on the screen.

youarenotleaving

I started to scream, but only a weak choking sound was coming out. I desperately tried to get my body to move, but it did nothing. I was looking every direction, and then I looked over at the computer.

Somehow, the computer was taking screenshots of the game on its own when I began the fight. I still don’t know how or why. Something in the game must have been causing it.

Since Red could hear what I was saying, I tried begging for him to let me go. From here things start to get hazy as I was under extreme stress at the time, but from what I can remember I said:

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I insulted you. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t know things would get this serious. Please just let me go. If you let me go I promise I will never tell anyone or turn the game on ever again. PLEASE!”

And Red replied:

toolatenow

onlyone

“Only one will survive.”

The statement could not be any more clear. If I couldn’t kill Red, then he would kill ME. Like an idiot I had played around with something I didn’t understand, and now it might cost me my life.

I stopped struggling to move and accepted the reality of the situation.
There was only one way to get out of this alive.
I had to kill Red.

Spider Red 1

It all went by so fast. If it weren’t for the screenshots, I might not have remembered any of this. Just like in the chase levels, Red moved at a horrifyingly fast speed. There was barely enough time to process a thought

Spider Red 2

And thus, there was no time to form a strategy. I had to rely solely on my wits and reflexes. To make things worse, there was no way to predict what kind of attacks Red might use, so I constantly had to be on the offensive AND defensive.

Spider Red 3

I felt every hit that Godzilla took. They all hurt. I tried so hard to avoid the damage, but every attack that I dodged left me vulnerable to another. And the pain would only get worse.

Spider Red 4

After he jumped over me, Red’s eyes started to glow. I moved as far back as I could and ducked, but there was no dodging this one:

Spider Red 5

When THIS hit me, I really did scream. I screamed so loud that someone else in the apartment should have heard me, but they didn’t. Just looking at the image hurts me, making me remember the incinerating burn.

I paused the game because it hurt so bad, but Red unpaused the game to attack me again, which made me furious.

I immediately counterattacked with the heat beam, again and again until the power meter was totally diminished. I wanted Red to hurt like I did.

Spider Red 6

Swimming Red 1

Just before the timer ran out, Red transitioned into his swimming form. I didn’t think the timer would still be affecting a battle like this. I’m thankful for it, because it gave me a few minutes to collect my thoughts and decide what to do next.

I chose to fight Red’s next 2 forms with the monsters I had encountered them with, so Anguirus was next. It probably wasn’t all that smart of an idea, but it’s what I did.

Swimming red 2

I jumped up and heat beamed Red in the face, and he moved offscreen where I couldn’t reach him. Then a wave of large mines started to fall from above.

Swimming Red 3

I felt this was unfair so I shouted:

“If you’re going to cheat, then why do you even let me use the controller?!”

therules

And then he came at me, rushing from the top left of the screen downwards:

Swimming Red 4

“DAMN IT!” Now I wouldn’t even be able to see where his next attack was coming from. Red continued to strike from random angles, I constantly moved to swerve around him.

swimming Red 5

Swimming Red 6

Another forty seconds went by and Anguirus was nearly gone, but together we had forced Red into his flying form, so it was Mothra’s turn next.

Flying Red 1

Deciding to fight Red with Mothra was a terrible idea. Mothra was instantly overwhelmed by Red, and the life meter was devastated in a mere fifteen seconds.

Flying Red 2

And once Mothra’s life was down to two bars, Red did something I didn’t see coming:

Flying Red 3

He reached out, grabbed Mothra, and ate her.

After Mothra was devoured I felt an agonizing pain, like being crushed to death. Mothra had been killed for my stupidity and I would share the pain.
It was a short transition from the battle to the board, but it felt like an hour.

The pain, combined with being unable to move was driving me insane. I wanted so badly for this to end. I never wanted anything so much.

But I still had hope. There was only one monster left that could be brought to full health by engaging Red in battle. Solomon. If any of them had a chance to save my life now, it would be him.

Flying Red 4

Solomon apparently had some history with Red, as when the fight started this dialogue happened:

traitor

solomon talks

Red took me by surprise again by immediately burning me with his demonic fire a second time:

Flying Red 5

As much as it hurt, it actually worked to my advantage: since Solomon started at full life he still had some to spare, but now Red had used up all his energy and could not use his ultimate weapon any longer. Now he would die.

As he drew close to the end of his life bar, Red turned his whole body to face the screen and flew upwards, then slamming back down in an attempt to crush Solomon:

Flying Red 6

Flying Red 7

When that failed to work, he tried to devour Solomon like he had Mothra. But he wouldn’t be eating my monster this time:

Flying Red Defeated

Red dead

I thought I had won. But something was wrong. Red wasn’t sinking to the bottom, and I still couldn’t move. Red was still alive…

not dead yet

ohno

final Red

notdone

 

And here we are, at the final world. I don’t like to discuss this part, and it still bothers me very much, but it’s something I have to do, so that I can put this behind me. People deserve to know.

At this point I was well aware of the game’s unnatural nature, but Zenith was different than the other worlds. While the others were certainly strange, and sometimes frightening, the world of Zenith was like a nightmare.

And I didn’t have to go any further than the board screen for an indication that something was wrong with Zenith. The first thing I noticed was the blood red texture of the board, and the music, which was an eerie whistling tune.

zenithboard1

I noticed that I had Solomon and Anguirus back, and I felt better for a second.
Then I scrolled over to the right to see who my enemies would be this time.

zenithboard2

This time it was Destoroyah and Ghidorah. But judging from the icon it was a different Ghidorah than the original, standing on the ground instead of flying. The grotesquely detailed pinkish red icon also caught my eye. I couldn’t tell what it was supposed to be, and I was afraid to find out.

Going back to my side of the board, I decided there wasn’t much choice but to do my usual “routine”, in going to the Quiz level before doing anything else. I was not ready for what happened.

facedead

I jumped back when this appeared, accompanied by a terribly distorted version of the password theme. It looked as if Face had fallen victim to some terrible glitch. Is this what he meant by “Will you miss me?” Did he know this would happen?

GETOUT

My thoughts were stopped short as I noticed the screen was glitching and seemingly falling apart while I was inactive, and so I quickly rushed out.

zenithboard3

And when I got back to the board, I had somehow gained a new monster. I hadn’t even been asked if I wanted one. I tried to select it, and this happened:

no

isolated

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!”

The game’s behavior was scaring me, and I hadn’t even started the levels yet. I couldn’t understand why I was randomly given a new character, and then denied use of it. But for the time being there was little that could be done, and I viewed the last TV Screen:

tvisbadforyou

No animation. No music. Dead.

Every instinct I had was telling me to stop playing, to just turn the game off. And something in the game itself might have been trying to warn me as to just how horrible this last world was.

But then, every stretch of the way I was compelled to give up. I couldn’t do that now, on the last world! Besides, after taunting me with memories of Melissa, I felt the game owed me some answers.

I noticed that the first level was a Red Temple, so at least I would be familiar with the level graphics if nothing else. And I went in with Godzilla, the monster I was most familiar with.

RedTemple1

Godzilla had been shrunk, the level and score meters had vanished, and the Blue Temple statue faces were back. The music was similar to the Blue Temple also: Strange, haunting vocalizations. I tried to get my spirits up by thinking “Well, If this level is like the Blue Temple, then that might mean there are no enemies to deal with.”

How wrong I was.

After a short walk, all the statue’s eyes starting glowing, and a pack of the beasts from Shadow Labyrinth came charging into me. Since they were coming from the right of the screen, I had to fight my way through them.

RedTemple2

This battle greatly tested my reflexes, but thanks to my speed I plowed through the beasts. They gave off health power-ups after dying, which helped recover the damage they had given me.

However, as I continued through the hallway, the statue’s eyes glowed again, summoning another wave. It seemed to be the same number of them, but I was less prepared this time, and took more damage. I had gone through four of these waves until I reached the end of the hall, where I heat beamed the last of the monsters over the edge into an abyss.

RedTemple3

At first it seemed I had reached a dead end, but after the statue’s eyes stopped glowing, a brick path slowly appeared before me.

I followed the path, which kept me moving towards the right until it stopped at a wall, where I was to go vertically by jumping up ledges. Along the way I encountered new creatures, and some sort of strange shrine, which had a statue of the Hell beast and some other creature I don’t recognize.

RedTemple5

RedTemple6

As I went through, the path took a downward direction. I had to carefully aim my jumps to avoid the enemies, which were plentiful in this part of the stage. They didn’t have many attacks, but they could easily shove you over the edge off a platform.

RedTemple7

At the end of this tunnel, there were a few small platforms floating above nothingness. I landed on one towards the left of the screen, and then something came down from above. It looked like the Blue Angel from the Graveyard, except now it was red and had a skull face.

RedTemple8

Any of the pleasant feelings I had from the Blue Angel were not present with this Red one, and as it hovered around, its eye sockets started glowing just like the statues, summoning monsters to attack me. Surely this was not the same benevolent being I encountered before, this must be some kind of impostor.

RedTemple9

The battle was nerve-wracking, as I started off with nearly half my health and had to deal with multiple opponents, as well as the threat of gravity. To make things even worse, as the Red Angel took damage some of the panels fell, until only 3 remained.

But my luck had not ran out yet, just when I thought it was over, I struck the Red Angel one more time, and it turned out that one last hit was all it could take.

RedTemple10

Just as the Red Angel completely disintegrated, the game instantly went back to the Zenith board. I moved Mothra over to the nearest stage from the Red Temple, which seemed be a garbled mess of letters spelling KILL, and began playing.

glitch land 1

As suspected, all the level graphics were made of jumbled letters. And Mothra, just like Godzilla, was shrunk to half size. I began to suspect that all the Zenith levels would be like this.

The background music was terrible, like if someone put all the sounds an NES was capable of making into a blender and then piecing them back together into a “song”. I had to turn the volume down because of it.

glitch land 2

Playing as Mothra made avoiding the enemies easier, but they were nonetheless determined to get at me. The first enemies I saw were headless Gigans, and later on there were hybrids monsters pieced together from previous bosses, like the Biollante headed thing seen above.

Five minutes had gone by as I didn’t see anything new, and the level shifted into another segment. The music changed from the loud and annoying beeps into something far more ambient and menacing. The level graphics also changed, now looking a blood drenched junkyard. The way everything in this level was red made it sickening to look at.

glitch land 3

glitch land 4

The enemies multiplied in number, never ceasing to follow after me, and became harder and harder to avoid. And at the end of the level, the situation reached a climax, as the swarms of monsters fused together in one enormous, terrifying hybrid:

glitch land 5

Once I had gotten through the initial shock, I discovered the way to destroy this thing: constantly shooting eye beams at the Hedorah cluster that formed its “heads”. If you attacked anywhere else, it would regenerate the damage.

glitch land 6

Even with that knowledge, this was an extremely difficult fight. I’d say it was as hard as fighting the Moon Beast was, if not harder. Its most common attack was lunging forward with its arms, covered with Gigan saws and blades, if they touched it would instantly drain health.

When it was over, the remaining monsters collapsed into a heap. Then they, and the ground below them, started to disintegrate and sink towards the bottom of the screen.

glitch land 7

glitch land 8

When I came back to the board, I thought to myself, “So far, the game has been putting the easiest levels first…if that’s the case, how bad will the rest of Zenith be?”

With two levels down and three to go, my monsters and I had taken our foothold in the world of nightmares that was Zenith.

Deciding what action to take next was more tense and difficult than ever before. But ultimately, I had no way of knowing what the next levels would be like, or how well my monsters would be prepared for them, so my only option was to guess.

I tried to to interpret what the icons of the next levels ahead of me were. The last level before the boss battles was obviously representing some type of volcanic area, with lava and open flames.

The middle icon I still didn’t get, except that it looked “fleshy”, and vaguely like an organ of some kind. Oddly oversized as well.

The one I was nearest to, and about to enter next, looked like thorny vines covering a puddle of blood. I guessed this would be a level with blood “rivers”, like the chase level of Dementia. As such, I went with Anguirus, because due to his rolling move he would have the fastest speed while submerged.

The level which I call “Blood Lake” looked like I expected. Rivers of blood accompanied by thorn covered vines, which were scattered along the sides of the ground. The music was rather faint, but I could hear a distinct drum beat, and a few other instruments. a lot of echoes, and sometimes it sounded like someone was hitting a drum underwater.

blood lake1

I was disappointed to see that Anguirus was shrunk just as Godzilla and Mothra had been, apparently all the Zenith levels would be like this. I felt less secure with my giant monsters no longer so giant.

I walked along without interruption for only a minute until my path reached a dead end.

blood lake2

There was a massive gap between the ground I was walking on and the ground to the right of the screen. I would have swam across it and continued walking to the right, but due to the huge mass of brambles in the way, there was nowhere to go.

Two creatures with gliding membranes on their arms, and lamprey like mouths were perched on outstretched vines and screeching at me, much like a crow does to an invader of its territory. Another unnerving display of possible sentience by the creatures of this game. If it’s even accurate to refer to them as being “of the game”, that is.

I descended into the blood, slowly sinking to the floor. Aquatic enemies were everywhere, and they were hard to avoid. The black shark in particular was very aggressive and hard to deal with, but thankfully I only encountered one.

blood lake 3

As the scene become more and more crowded, I swam up to the surface, to find that it was littered with floating corpses.

blood lake 4

“Creepy, but at least they’re not a threat.” Or so I thought…

blood lake 5

..Until they all sprang to life and leaped on me! They were trying to pull me under, and they were draining my health as they did it. They all attacked as a group, and when I got one off me, another would jump on me from behind. I had to curl up into a ball and roll for them to loosen their grip, and when they did I quickly retreated.

It wasn’t long before I had reached another land path. A note regarding the brambles, you can stand on them but it causes pain, and you can also destroy some of the vines, but only the thinner ones. I had to destroy multiple vines, as well as dealing with more enemies.

blood lake 6

I was interrupted by a screen:

mother

The screen was only up for about thirty seconds, then when it went back to the level, I was facing another dead end, and a pregnant humanoid creature being hanged from the top right of the screen, by a spine/umbilical cord.

blood lake 7

Instantly, the creature’s belly was split open from the inside!

boborevealed

And as the lower part of its body was ripped apart and fell into the river below, the Blood Lakes boss was revealed;

bobo fight 1

It came flying towards me, making a shrill, hacking scream. I was forced to move back.

bobo fight 2

The bat was a highly mobile boss, fast and difficult to hit. As I moved back along the ground , the monster opened its mouth and shout out a barrage of needles. I jumped over them and managed to give it a blow to the head, and it started flying out of my reach.

bobo fight 3

As the bat was flying, it shot a stream of fire from its eye sockets, and started trying to hit me with the flames. I rolled along the ground, which drained my power, but put us at equal speed.

This cycle repeated around three times, until the monster was defeated. With most of my health drained, I went back to the edge of the level, and the large bramble vine blocking the exit was now gone.

“Now, only two levels left to go. Who to send this time?” Godzilla, Mothra, and Anguirus had all completed one level, leaving Solomon. And also, the mysterious fifth monster. I tried again to access it, but with no luck. I chose to use Godzilla again for the next level, and Solomon for the final one.

The second to last level was what I refer to as the “Organic Level”, which was the most visually unpleasant of them all.

organic level 1

Right from the start I could see that the graphics where freakishly different. The atmosphere was gruesome and foreboding, with the addition of the loud, droning music. I was dreading what I would see in these levels, and it was only a few seconds before something appeared:

organic level 2

Two hideous…things. It’s hard to describe most of this level. Everything had this disturbing “semi-real” look to it. Most of the enemies look halfway between real animals, and misshapen lumps of gore with teeth.

It’s also worth noting that all of them were considerably larger than Godzilla, and although the majority were not very intelligent, each of them took around 30+ hits to kill. Due to this, it was a better idea to run away from them than fight, but it was never clear exactly what direction to run to.

While most levels involved going to the right to get to the exit, the path of this level was primarily going down, by walking to the edge of one platform and jumping down to a lower one. There was no way to make sure you were going the right way, nor any apparent means of getting back up to the higher platforms if necessary.

Also, certain enemies acted as if they were aware you had to jump down, and would stand at the edge of a lower platform, waiting for you. When this happened, I would have to walk back and wait until the monster would leave.

organic level 3

As I went on I came across platforms stacked above each other with little space in between, looking like a maze. This meant that I couldn’t jump, and it made escape from enemies difficult. Thankfully, the only enemies able to fit through these mazes were the four-legged beasts seen at the beginning of the level.

Adding to the difficulty were long, tapeworm-esque monsters, that would rise themselves up between the platforms and trap you. The only attack they responded to was the heat beam, which would cause them to shrink back down. But this was costing even more power, and I couldn’t afford to do without the heat beam for long.

organic level 4

While trying to avoid the abominations that dwell in this level, I found out that if you stand idle in one place for too long, the ground tries to absorb your monster;

organic level 5

I think it was about four minutes before the end that this level was making me physically sick. The tension was getting to me, and having to take in all these disgusting sights made me want to puke. I nearly did pause the game and look for a bag, but I was able to hold it together.

I also found a trick at the end of the level, though it was too late to do me any real good. If two different species of monster to run into each other face-to-face, they would fight each other and leave me alone. I didn’t intentionally cause this, it just happened:

organic level 6

Finally at the end, it was time for another boss fight. It was certainly ugly, but not quite as horrific as I feared it would be. But more important than dealing with its appearance was defeating it, and since I had less than half my health bar to start with, there was no room for errors.

Canidontrevealed

It was attached to the floor when I first saw it, but after ten hits it detached from the floor and began floating. It moved fast, and unlike the Blood Lakes boss he wasn’t impeded by any sort of gravity. It was even able to fly through the ground without any collision effect.

canidont fight 1

It used this to its advantage, and would float beneath the ground and spring up randomly to bite at you. But it stopped doing this after a few well aimed kicks to the face. The pink area on its upper jaw was a weak point, too many hits there would cause it to spasm uncontrollably.

canidont fight 2

The new strategy was to rapidly float up down while moving back and forth across the stage, trying to constantly keep its jaws aimed towards me. Health was getting critical at this point, and I spammed the heat beam, from which it had no defense.

canidont fight 3

In the last stretch of the battle, the monster had lost its mind, rapidly rushing back and forth and gnashing its jaws. I had to duck under it, and then strike when its back was turned. Twenty more hits, and it was destroyed.

canidont fight 4

“One last level to go…”

And then it was down to one last level. I didn’t hesitate, I selected Solomon and entered. Perhaps a little too fast.

inferno1

This last level was definitely the peak of disconnect between what the NES was graphically capable of, and what this game could create. The music also caught my attention, it was one of the only songs that appeared more than once – the horrible screeching from when the Hellbeast appeared in the graveyard.

As soon I started, there was already an enemy prepared to attack, a centaur wielding a whip. And it wasn’t alone.

When I started fighting, several more centaurs appeared. Coming from both sides at the screen at the same time, it was too much to handle. Solomon’s flight saved me from taking too much damage at the start of the level. The centaurs followed after, but seemed to be unable to jump.

inferno2

After escaping the centaurs I noticed gaps in the ground. While trying to avoid the jumping sword mouthed enemies in mid-flight I got close to the surface of the lava, and a creature emerged and tried to grab me. It didn’t succeed, but I was startled. Careful maneuvering would be needed to avoid instant death here.

inferno3

As new enemies appeared,the level soon became very difficult. A lot of the trouble came from stocky red demons that stood on top of tall, narrow mountains and spewed fire. I got by them by waiting till their back was turned, and hitting them with a flying kick, which made them fall into the lava.It was at this time I noticed that I wasn’t gaining any health from killing enemies.

inferno4

Not all the ground was stable. At one point, the ground was reduced to small chunks that slowly drifted towards the right. Some of them would sink into the lava upon landing on them, and there was no way to tell which ones would sink and which would not. Being so close to the lava added the threat of the lava creatures, and this was very frustrating.

inferno5

I was also feeling very hot, which made concentrating hard. If you’ve ever had a heat rash, it felt similar to that. I had periodically stop for water because of it. This was almost certainly due to the game, and not my imagination, but I kept pushing the thought out of my head. I didn’t want to think about it.

At the end of the stage, I encountered the boss rising from the lava, its arrival noted with a ungodly howling roar:

firebrand1

When it walked onto the land, I saw how gigantic it was, several times the size of Solomon. I was about to fly up and attack it, when it opened its mouth and let out a huge blast of fire:

firebrand2

firebrand3

I had to fly to dodge the flames, and then get close enough to the boss to fire a heat beam at its face, causing it to stumble backward. If it didn’t stumble backwards, it would have kept moving left until it forced Solomon into the lava, as there was no more ground within reach.

The beast had to wait between uses of its fire breath, as it seemed to cost a great deal of energy. I used this time to attack it. But fire wasn’t its only weapon, and I had to wary of the monster swatting at me with its clawed hands. As its health decreased, it moved faster,and the battle felt like a tug of war between the two monsters over this bridge of land.

After about forty hits, it was defeated, tumbling backwards into the lava from whence it came. And then, the final stage had been completed.

At last it was down to two bosses, and a final encounter with the Hellbeast.
For some reason I thought Ghidorah would be easier to beat, so I confronted him first.

The classic “Ghidorah Battle” music from the original started up as I was faced against the new King Ghidorah;

King Ghidorah 1

King Ghidorah 2

King Ghidorah was as powerful and unrelenting as ever. He instantly lashed out with Gravity Beams, which were more damaging than Godzilla’s heat beam. It became a struggle of constantly beating Ghidorah at every oppoortunity to keep him from using the attack.

King Ghidorah 3

But Ghidorah soon saw through my tactic and started using physical attacks as well. He would strike with each of his necks, knocking me backward and making it impossible to get close enough to punch him. But I had an idea, to wait for him to lunge with one of his heads, and immediately blast it with the heat beam:

King Ghidorah 4

King Ghidorah 5

It worked, and to my surprise the heat beam had actually obliterated Ghidorah’s middle head. It was only a few seconds before I realized what this would lead to, and sure enough…

King Ghidorah Transforms

Mecha King Ghidorah

…King Ghidorah was using the power of the glitch to transform into Mecha King Ghidorah. But what really shocked me was the sudden change of music. I had heard it before, but it wasn’t from the original NES game – It was from the game Super Godzilla, during the Mecha King Ghidorah fight.

Mecha King Ghidorah’s first attack was its most deadly: The Machine Hand. Very similar to Gigan’s Saw, it immobilizes the monster and rapidly drains the health bar. Fortunately, before Ghidorah could do a lot of damage, the timer ran out.

Mecha King Ghidorah 2

I would need to defeat Mecha King Ghidorah quickly to prevent him from using the Machine Hand, so I sent Solomon to fight him. The two monsters were evenly matched in strength.

Mecha King Ghidorah 3

But Solomon was faster, and by slashing and heat beaming without pause, the cyborg monster soon met its end.

Mecha King Ghidorah 4

With Ghidorah defeated, I was returned to the board. I now outnumbered the enemy by four monsters to one, and victory seemed to be soon at hand. The Base Icon had changed to a blood red color. I could feel hatred emanating from it.

ghidorahgone

I started the fight against Destoroyah with Anguirus, and the music was the same as Ghidorah’s. When the fight began, Destoroyah was in Microscopic form. After one hit it changed into the Juvenile, which had few attacks and was also dealt with easily.

Destoroyah 1

Destoroyah 2

The fight became serious once Destoroyah entered the Aggregate Form, gaining the use of large arms and the micro-oxygen beam.

Destoroyah 3

Anguirus’ roll attack, which had been very useful up until now, was rendered useless by Destoroyah constantly attacking me with his large arms when I tried to use it. For this part of the fight I had to rely on brute strength.

Just before the time ran out, Destoroyah had changed into his Flying form, which Anguirus was ill-suited to fight against. Going back in,I fought against the flying form with Mothra (which seemed fitting).

Destoroyah 4

Mothra was weaker than Anguirus, but was much better equipped to dodge and counter Flying Destoroyah’s attacks, so the fight was in my favor. However, the Mecha Ghidorah fight music started playing and Destoroyah changed into his Final form sooner than expected, which drastically turned the tables.

Destoroyah 5

Mothra’s attacks were doing very little to Destoroyah, and I had to move furiously to avoid damage while waiting for the timer to run out.

Even though it would be near impossible to beat Destoroyah with Mothra, I still had three other monsters. Final form Destoroyah was very resistant to taking damage, and the heavily armored foe would not be defeated without a long fight.

In the last part of the fight I wasn’t using much strategy, just attacking as brutally and as fast as I could.

Destoroyah  6

Destoroyah 7

Destoroyah 8

On its last bar of health Destoroyah tried one last counter-attack – a beam of energy from its chest.

Destoroyah 9

I don’t know how powerful it would have been, because just before it could fire I punched Destoroyah in the chest cavity, destroying him!

Destoroyah Dead

And then that was it – the last kaiju boss was gone. In the midst of all the excitement, I had briefly forgotten that there was still one last thing to do before the game would be over.

Last Icon

Seeing the icon again hit me like a ton of bricks, and I froze for a few minutes. I had come so far to get to this point. But I was terrified. I really did not want to know what this last encounter was going to be like.

Before I could let myself think about it any longer, I moved Godzilla over and began the stage. “You’re here now. This is the end. Just one last thing, and then it’s all over.”

And when the screen changed, there was…

dark

…Nothing.

Just Godzilla and a black screen. I walked back and forth. Fired a heat beam. Nothing happened, until I heard something – the faint sound of a familiar drum beat.

eyes

RED

 

In the brief instant before the transition between Entropy and Extus, I was hoping that I would get Godzilla and Angurius back. As the board appeared, I saw that my wish was half granted: I had Godzilla back, but no Anguirus. I would have preferred both, but despite Anguirus’s neat abilities I would have chosen Godzilla if I had to pick between the two.

Extus Board 1

Extus had two different colored temples, white and pink. A pyramid, what looked like some modern buildings, and two other icons I couldn’t figure out at the time. The new bosses were Kumonga, Gorosaurus, and Not-Ghidorah, (whom I was dreading to see, let alone fight.)

With Godzilla back, I was excited again and eager to explore, yet still cautious. I went to the Quiz level first, just as before. This time, Face’s questions were more random than ever:

; Quiz 4

<ol>
<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Do elephants breathe?
<br />Answer: Yes, Reaction: Weird Face #2</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Have you ever been molested by a family member?
<br />Answer: No, Reaction: Weird Face #6</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Have you ever raped anyone?
<br />Answer: No, Reaction: Weird Face #8</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Is green your favorite color?
<br />Answer: No, Reaction: Weird Face #10</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Is the computer the pinnacle of modern technology?
<br />Answer: Yes, Reaction: Weird Face #4</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Are you a tough guy?
<br />Answer: Yes, Reaction: Weird Face #12</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Can you fly?
<br />Answer No, Reaction: Weird Face #9</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Can you stand on your head?
<br />Answer: Yes, Reaction: Weird Face #7</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Do you hate raccoons?
<br />Answer: No, Reaction: Confused</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Do you feel blame?
<br />Answer: No, Reaction: Weird Face #11</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Would you like a new monster?
<br />Answer: Yes, Reaction: Surprised</li>

<li style=”margin-bottom:1em;”>Will you miss me?
<br />Answer: Yes, Reaction: Sad</li></ol>

I was happy that I was getting a new monster, but that last question bothered me. “Will you miss me?”

will you miss me

“Is Face referring to when I finish the game?” I thought. Since the revelation of the game’s truly otherworldly nature, I wasn’t sure what to think of Face, or anything else in the game. But something about that last statement gave me a genuine feeling of sadness from Face.

As I was thinking about this, the game had gone back to the board. I had a new monster, but I had no idea who it was supposed to be.

Solomon Appears

The sprite had a slight resemblance to Rodan, but the head was totally off. I moved this mysterious newcomer to a White Temple icon and started the level. When I started the level, this screen appeared with the text “FIND THE GEM”. Presumably instructions for beating the level.

find the gem

After that I got my first look at my new playable monster: A hairy, dark blue creature with bat wings and a skull-like face named “Solomon”.

whitetemple1

And I also found that my path was blocked by a beam of light, and a small pillar with a plate on it. I figured that this beam of light was blocking the exit, so I have to find the gem and drop it on the plate to deactivate the beam.

How exactly I was going to do that, I didn’t know. There wasn’t anything in the original game requiring you to find an item to beat a level. I’d have to find out when I obtained the gem. The only direction I had to go was left, so on I proceeded.

Solomon was an interesting monster, to say the least. He was capable of both flight and a heat beam, both of which proved to be very useful. He also could kick and slash with his wings, but he couldn’t duck.

The White Temple’s music was a vocalizing choir, or a videogame approximation of such. It’s hard to describe but it had a very “holy” sound to it.

white temple 2 enemies

It wasn’t long before I started running into waves of strange new enemies.
They did little to stop me, I ran past them while slashing and didn’t take any damage.

There was a “pause” between each wave of enemies, after you had killed about ten, there wouldn’t be any for about a minute, then the next wave would appear. After five minutes, I noticed holes in the floor and ceiling:

white temple 3

Guillotine mouthed creatures were rapidly flying up and down these crevices, so I had to time my jumps carefully, because I didn’t know if I’d get another shot at this. Luckily I managed to get through without a scratch. I’m just lucky, I guess.

whitetempleboss

After that I found myself at the end of the hallway, facing some kind of mini-boss monster. It moved fast and had some kind of projectile that it shot in four directions, but I killed it quite easily using Solomon’s heat beam. When the battle was over I had my gem, which was inside the creature’s head:

gotgem

I found that I could pick up and hold the gem by walking over to it and holding down B. I made the long trek back to the start, deposited the gem on the plate, which deactivated the beam.

whitetempleend

I left the stage, and was shown what was probably the strangest quirk relating to the “Solomon” monster.

STILL THE BEST 1973

Every time you complete a stage or defeat a boss with Solomon, this screen appears. I have no idea what “STILL THE BEST 1973” means. Neither the date nor the phrase has any meaning or significance to me that I can think of, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it.

The next level I played was one that I call “Bronze Pyramids”. I used Godzilla, and found he had been leveled up to twelve since I last played as him in Dementia.

Bronze Pyramids1

The Bronze Pyramids were fairly normal as far as these levels go, but the visuals were quite interesting, almost unusually colorful and lively. The music had a fittingly Egyptian style to it, it was slow and mysterious sounding.

I strolled through the level fighting off the various enemies, none were too difficult (although the ants could be a pain if you ran into too many at once). My favorite enemy was this giant reptile I encountered halfway through;

Bronze Pyramids2

At the end of the level I came to a giant pyramid and I engaged in yet another mini-boss fight. Although this was one was a bit different, because I had to fight two of these monsters at the same time.

giant pyramid

giant pyramid summon

pyramidbosses

Individually, I could have dealt with them easily, but fighting both of them at once was challenging. But I sped things up by tricking one of the twin beasts into barbecuing his brother by jumping when he uses his flame breath:

sorrybro

After defeating the twin monsters, I noticed something strange after returning to the board: I was now able to move my monster piece anywhere on the board, without limits. Normally Godzilla could only move three spaces each turn, and Mothra could move five.

I wanted to try out Solomon some more, so I moved his piece over to one of the brown pillar looking icons with colored dots and started the level.

totem 1

When I got to the level, I then realized what the level icon represented: Totem Poles. I was greeted by two of them right at the beginning. The music had a Native American sound to it. It seemed to be using the same instruments as the Entropy Forest, it was noticeably different but just as foreboding.

totem2

I walked around for three minutes with nothing else in sight besides the totem poles. I didn’t realize it until then, but I wasn’t expecting another level with nothing “alive” in it, after all the activity in Entropy. Walking by all those multicolored faces, this unnerving level left me feeling like I was being watched.

Only about ten minutes after I started Extus, I was already halfway through. After getting back from the the Totem Pole level, I tried out one of the TV Screens to see how strange they were this time:

Eagle

…Even more strange than before, apparently. The music for this was the Uranus theme.

I switched back to Godzilla to play another level, and this level was quite a surprise:

City 1

It was a normal City level! The colors were gloomy, but even still this was quite a shock. This was the kind of level I would expect to see in a Godzilla game, and I was kind of mad that I didn’t get to play it earlier. The music was the Earth theme.

City 2

I found it strange that a level fitting a Godzilla game would show up this late. But there’s no point crying over split milk, I suppose.

I moved Solomon over to a gray-ish green icon, which turned out to be a giant high-tech Laboratory of some sort:

lab 1

Lots of mechanical drones in this level, but Solomon cleared through them just like the White Temple enemies. The music was a gritty, industrial beat. There was also a strange, flying cyborg enemy, which was annoying because it would fly away when you jumped to attack it.

Also of interest were these large stasis tanks, holding some kind of monster inside. As you would guess, sometimes the monsters awaken and shatter through the glass.

I tried to get past the stasis tanks as fast as possible, because the monsters inside proved to be vicious little bastards upon release.

lab 2

At the end of the level was an elevator, which I used to go down to the bottom the level where the exit was. Along the way, I was shot at by security drones. I couldn’t leave the elevator, so my only defense was the heat beam.

lab3

The last level type was this simple thing that I call the “Heart Temple”, for obvious reasons:

heartemple

Nothing but a big hallway, filled with floating enemies shaped like human hearts.
They’re incapable of causing you damage, so what you do is run through the level smashing as many as you can to get all the power-ups. One run through these levels would get the life meter back up to full, and I would greatly appreciate these levels later.

The Heart Temple’s music reminded me of a circus tune, had an overly cheerful sound to it which gave the level a really weird feeling.

Having seen all the level types, I chose to fight Gorosaurus using Solomon.

goro1

The music for this fight was Gezora’s theme.
It was during this fight I realized that Solomon is overpowered: a single well aimed slash can take down as many as four of the enemy’s life bars.

goro2

Due to this, the fight was over very quickly. Gorosaurus had no projectile attacks, or anything else that could match Solomon’s deadly claws. But I kept the fight going just long enough to see if Gorosaurus would use his iconic “Kangaroo Kick”, and I was greatly pleased when he did:

goro3

Even though I knew Solomon was my fighting ace, I used Godzilla to battle Kumonga, just for variety. I briefly considered using Mothra, but of course Godzilla won out.

kumonga1

Kumonga was also a simple opponent, no heat beams or anything. He attacks by jumping on you, stabbing with his mandibles, and also uses his signature webbing stream to paralyze you. Once you get webbed, Kumonga will sometimes take the opportunity to attack, but it’s mostly a way to buy some time, like Gezora backing you in the corner until the time runs out. His music was Hedorah’s theme.

kumonga2

With Gorosaurus and Kumonga defeated I was at the end of Extus. Before I fought Not-Ghidorah, there was something I had to do.

I wasn’t expecting much from it, but for documentation’s sake I took a look at the other TV Screen. This is what it was:

MrFaucet

I don’t think there ever was much reason behind the Tv Screens. If I were to guess, I’d say its some random, uncontrolled manifestation of the cartridge’s abilities. Or maybe all this makes perfect sense to the “game”. Who knows. Anyway, Mr. Faucet’s theme was the Saturn music.

It was time for the opponent I had been dreading: Not-Ghidorah. Although I had gained courage with Solomon’s combat advantages, I was still nervous. And when I started the fight, I was immediately confused:

gez

My opponent was Not-Gezora. I defeated the imposter with a few strikes, and then Not-Moguera appeared. The it made sense; In order to get to Not-Ghidorah, I had to battle all the previous Replacements first.

And battle them I did.

mog

var

hed

bar

gig

mech

I tore my way through them until I finally made it to Not-Ghidorah who was…a Dorat.

dorat

Once I stopped laughing, I destroyed him with only two slashes. The music stopped, and I thought I was going back to the board. But the battle wasn’t over yet.

chimera1

 

chimera2

The real fight was against the Chimera, a monstrous hybrid of all the Replacement beasts. This was by far the most difficult boss yet, every attack of his would cut down whole life bars per use, while attacks against him were greatly weakened. Solomon’s slash for example, was now lucky to take away one half a life bar.

During this battle I gained a great appreciation for two things: The Boss Fight Time Limit, and the Heart Temple. Had it not been for those things, I might never have beaten this boss.

To take down this behemoth, I came up with a strategy. I would switch between Godzilla and Solomon, as one began to get dangerously low on health, I would take him through the Heart Temple, while fighting Chimera with the other. I should count my blessings that Chimera couldn’t regain lost health.

Chimera 3

A very interesting thing about Chimera was that the colored sections on his body corresponded to his different body parts, so each body part effectively had its own life meter. The head was invincible as long as the other parts were present, and would always be the last part to be destroyed.

Chimera 4

In addition to being difficult, it was also the longest fight so far. I tried to remember how many times I got taken out of the fight by the timer, but I lost count around thirteen.

Eventually I had destroyed all components but the head, which now flew around on its own at an incredible speed.

Chimera fought well, but I was extremely determined and once he was reduced to a head, he no longer had the power to defeat Solomon, and I heat beamed him into oblivion.

chimerafinal

And then Chimera was no more. I was exhausted after that drawn out fight, and worried that might affect my performance in the End-World chase level.

The Headquarters icon was replaced, but not by the Hell Beast Face. Instead, it was a crucifix.

crucifix

I was completely stunned. I wasn’t excited about seeing the Hell Beast icon again, but if there was only one good thing about those levels, it’s that they were predictable. I had a basic idea of what to expect.

But now, here I was at the end and the icon was completely different. What did it mean? And why a crucifix? It made me very uneasy.

I attempted to start the level with Solomon, but couldn’t. I got this notice that simply stated “SOLOMON CAN’T ENTER HERE”.

nogo

It didn’t say why. But I think maybe it has to do with Solomon’s demonic appearance. Since Solomon was out of the question, I went with Godzilla instead.

Once I saw the level, the crucifix made sense – the level was a graveyard.

graveyard

I was still on edge, thinking this was some kind of trick. The last level had always involved running from the demonic beast, and I wasn’t going to be fooled into thinking this would be any different.

So I started out running, but after a minute without interruption, I slowed down. It was during this time that the music caught my attention. I knew it sounded familiar when I first heard it, but it took a while before I realized what it was — An 8-bit rendition of “Prayer For Peace”, from the first Godzilla film. A very sad, powerful song, even in this form.

At two minutes into the level, I encountered something that I wasn’t sure how to react to:

angel

My first instinct was to run, but this blue statue-esque being simply floated in place.
And I felt compelled just to stare at it, for a time.

Since this was a grave, and it was floating over a chapel, I guessed that this was some kind of Angel, watching over the deceased.

It gave me a strange, but warm feeling. I wouldn’t say “happy”, but I felt that I was at peace, somehow. I had never seen this being before, yet it seemed very familiar to me.

Just as I was going to leave, The Hell Beast appeared, and it’s presence warped the music into a terrifying discordant screeching and transformed the level, desecrating the tombstones as a new ground appeared, comprised of blood soaked bodies:

ambush

I could feel my heart now beating out of control, I had no chance of escape with the monster that close! It lunged for the kill, but the Angel got in its way. The demon roared and started clawing through the Angel’s leg, and tears of blood streamed from its eyes.

sacrifice

I wanted to save the Angel, but there was nothing I could do. I had to honor its sacrifice and run. And so I ran through the hellish landscape as fast I could. The beast soon caught up with me, still swallowing the body of the Angel, whose legs it had torn off.

devoured

And this sight made my terror change into anger. I now found myself hating this horrible monster. There was no doubt in my mind that it was pure evil, and I wanted it to die.

When I got to the end, I remembered how it responded to my insult in Trance, I spoke to it and said: “You’re going to pay”.

This was its response:

eyes1

eyes2

eyes3

I had no idea how I would follow up on that threat.

And nothing could have prepared me for the horrors of the final world – Zenith.

zenith