I’ve sunk many replay hours into several notable gaming series: Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Grand Theft Auto, to name a few. But I don’t think any of them come close to the time I spent replaying a “trilogy” of its own: Metroid: Zero Mission (remake of the original Metroid), Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion. While Super Metroid came first, when I was heavily into the Nintendo DS, I played the other two games on repeat. They each became go-tos in their own way, but if I had to rank them, Metroid Fusion would take the top spot. It built well upon what had come before it, presented a fantastic story, and it was dramatically scary, too! That last was thanks in part to the introduction of Samus’s soulless doppelganger, the SA-X. But it was also thanks to in inclusion of some very nasty monsters, including the absolutely unforgettable Nightmare.
In Metroid Fusion, Nightmare (called that for good reason), resides deep within Biological Space Labs. It’s initial appearance is mechanical and robotic, but it’s organic underneath, and the thing wields the power to manipulate gravity. Unlike other enemies, Nightmare isn’t tethered to any particular space. Its presence is made known as passing, ominous shadows when Samus reaches its particular sector in the game. At a certain point, facing off with the creature is inevitable, and the ensuing battle is intense.
I’ve faced off with plenty of challenging enemies in my time, but “hard” and “difficult” don’t even begin to describe the Nightmare battle. It was a boss that required exact timing and mastery over Samus’s arsenal and movement. And like most boss fights, the Nightmare fight happened in stages that got progressively more difficult. During the fight, Nightmare would unleash is gravity-distorting power to make it feel as if Samus was acting in slow-motion. As Nightmare, armed to the teeth, wove and bobbed through the air with Samus being stuck on the ground, the whole thing felt, well, somewhat unfair…at least to begin with.
To make matters worse, at least visually, as Samus damaged the Nightmare, it began to “bleed” green goo. More damage equaled more goo – so much gross, dripping goo! – until Samus caused enough harm to destroy Nightmare’s face plate, revealing its horrible and piteous form. At that point, the battle is all about putting Nightmare out of its misery, if only it would stop flying around so wildly for a moment! Adding to the heart-pounding battle is incredible sound design that makes the battle feel intense and deadly, which is certainly is if you don’t know what you’re doing.
While I did eventually learn how to take down Nightmare, in all my time with the game, I was hardly ever able to take it out without dying at least once. In the other Metroid games, I came to welcome and enjoy their boss battles – developing that process that took time, believe you me – but that never happened with Nightmare. I dreaded that fight to my very core for as long as I had the game, and it remains singular in that regard. (Or, at least until I meet something similar in Metroid Dread, which very well may happen.) Credit where credit is due, Nintendo did a good job embodying true fear in Metroid Fusion, making Nightmare live up to it’s name, and then some.
Lede image taken from Metroid Fusion (© Nintendo) presskit on IGDB.com.