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 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
- Do elephants breathe?
Answer: Yes, Reaction: Weird Face #2
- Have you ever been molested by a family member?
Answer: No, Reaction: Weird Face #6
- Have you ever raped anyone?
Answer: No, Reaction: Weird Face #8
- Is green your favorite color?
Answer: No, Reaction: Weird Face #10
- Is the computer the pinnacle of modern technology?
Answer: Yes, Reaction: Weird Face #4
- Are you a tough guy?
Answer: Yes, Reaction: Weird Face #12
- Can you fly?
Answer No, Reaction: Weird Face #9
- Can you stand on your head?
Answer: Yes, Reaction: Weird Face #7
- Do you hate raccoons?
Answer: No, Reaction: Confused
- Do you feel blame?
Answer: No, Reaction: Weird Face #11
- Would you like a new monster?
Answer: Yes, Reaction: Surprised
- Will you miss me?
Answer: Yes, Reaction: Sad
I was happy that I was getting a new monster, but that last question bothered 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.
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.
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".
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
I left the stage, and was shown what was probably the strangest quirk relating to the "Solomon" monster.
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.
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;
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
...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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
The last level type was this simple thing that I call the "Heart Temple", for obvious reasons:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
I tore my way through them until I finally made it to Not-Ghidorah who was…a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.