With two levels down and 3 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.
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;
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 it's 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.
As the scene become more and more crowded, I swam up to the surface, to find that it was littered with floating corpses.
"Creepy, but at least they're not a threat." Or so I thought...
..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.
I was interrupted by a screen:
The screen was only up for about 30 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.
Instantly, the creature's belly was split open from the inside!
And as the lower part of it's body was ripped apart and fell into the river below, the Blood Lakes boss was revealed;
It came flying towards me, making a shrill, hacking scream. I was forced to move back.
The bat was a highly mobile boss, fast and difficult to hit. As I moved back along the ground , the monster opened it's 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.
As the bat was flying, it shot a stream of fire from it's 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 3 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 2 levels left to go. Who to send this time?" Godzilla, Mothra, and Anguirus had all completed one level, leaving Solomon. And also, the mysterious 5th 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.
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:
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.
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 4 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.
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;
I think it was about 4 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 2 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:
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 it's appearance was defeating it, and since I had less than half my health bar to start with, there was no room for errors.
It was attached to the floor when I first saw it, but after 10 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.
It used this to it's 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 it's upper jaw was a weak point, too many hits there would cause it to spasm uncontrollably.
The new strategy was to rapidly float up down while moving back and forth across the stage, trying to constantly keep it's jaws aimed towards me. Health was getting critical at this point, and I spammed the heat beam, from which it had no defense.
In the last stretch of the battle, the monster had lost it's mind, rapidly rushing back and forth and gnashing it's jaws. I had to duck under it, and then strike when it's back was turned. 20 more hits, and it was destroyed.
"One last level to go..."