Part 5: Dive Man
I fucking love this stage. This is how you do a water level, designers around the world. Mostly by not making it all water all the time, lining the ceiling with spikes. That's dumb. Spikes are still there, but they never require perfectly heighted jumps (which I hate), instead thinking ahead and, as always, a clear head.
The beginning part has basically two ways to go, with the upper path becoming mandatory after a short while. As said in the video, the fish are perfectly placed to annoy you the most, if you don't believe in Barrier power, luring them out is a must or you'll eat damage. Fortunately, though, getting hit is not a death sentence because we don't play MM1 anymore. I really don't mind instant-kill if there's an out even if you make a mistake. Two in a row should get you killed; getting killed because of one time and time again in a hard spot gets frustrating pretty fast.
The Mets add an extra layer of difficulty, again put on precarious terrain and with the fairly stationary Metroid-lookalikes in order to be as much in the way as possible, but always plenty dodgeable with the right positioning. I don't much care for the whales, but seeing as spamming is an option, they go down fast enough. The middle part is a nice breather with Eddie, providing a short time out of the water that's nice for variety; this is no bland stage that relies on the same terrain all the time! After that, more Whale and a little secret. Too bad that you appear on the normal respawn point...meaning you have to fight the Whale again. But you get healed for aquiring the (spoilers!) Wire. So no problems there.
Then the real meat of the stage starts. The rising and falling water can fuck you over if you're not careful, but there's almost no situation where you really have to wait for it to rise fully or something. It supplements your jumps, rather than being a crutch in order for them to succeed at all; a gimmick I can get behind.
The only real dick move is if you go overboard with jumping...and scroll right into the spikes on top of the last screen. Happened often enough to me. Apart from that, most of the difficulty comes from the Rays, because those hit hard and sneakily. Charging is recommended if you don't peruse special weapons!
Still don't know what up with the red stuff, though.
This fucking asshole.
Dive Man has cost me probably the most Game Overs playing through this game the first time, apart from maybe that jump in Bright Man's stage (we'll get to that later!). He's at the end of the stage, though. I'm very glad that I love it and the music, else I'd have to hate the boss even more.
He's got, as is somewhat regular, two attacks. One is to simply ram Mega, only stopping under or in him, which will deal insane damage. Four hits and you're a goner. The second is shooting out his homing Dive Missiles, three at a time, which will trail Mega; they also will never go away, so shoot them or block them with your face. Having one or two on-screen following you lovingly, with slow underwater jumps and an insane Dive Man trying to give you a power hug is...pretty damn chaotic, to say the least. You should never let this happen, else I certainly won't blame you for losing your cool. Results seen in the video.
The trick for dealing with him is just...spamming the buster. It will get rid of all missiles he shoots before they begin their homing routine, then it's just a matter of jumping over him and sliding away in order to be ready to shoot them out or jump over him again. It's trivially easy if you don't miss a beat and take too long to shoot out the missiles. The problem, as always, is knowing the trick. He's one of the best examples for being nigh-impossible without exploiting his pattern, because his weakness (Skull Shield!) is very much unsuited to deal with a guy focused on meleeing you.
- Garyoby: This game's Spine variant is quite sturdy and at the moment can only be killed by Dust Crusher (we'll get two more weapons to deal with those). Also, stunning it is no longer a matter of shooting it; only a charged shot will do the trick. As always, they accelerate when level with Mega and are placed as "nicer pits", where falling down doesn't kill you but land you on or near one. I kind of like that, see the "instant-kill" argument above. Light punishment is far better, in my opinion.
Jumbig: He < Dust Crusher. 'nuff said.
M-422A: The latest incarnation in the series of the first game's Wily 3 boss alterations, those are basically vertical obstacles. When you get near, they'll bop up and down. It's all about the placement here. They're also fully invincible.
Mantan: So they are called Mantas, damn it! Those guys are surprisingly brutal, especially in numbers and in conjunction with mines and spikes. They'll dip down or up when near Mega in order to hit him, which can catch you by surprise; as they take two shots to kill, your first might hit, the second miss and you'll get a faceful of Stingray. They also deal lots of damage, so charge it up or crush them.
Moby: DURR I'M A WHAEL. Two attacks: A torpedo that's a bitch to dodge because you can't really see it coming, and mines that will slowly fall down and pose no thread whatsoever, except for him sucking you in while they do it. Best opportunity to spam him into submission though, so no problem there. Even less with Rush Marine.
Met Swin: Shooting the normal three pellets, they're kind of tough because they use water physics to their fullest against you. Shoot quickly or use the water even better.
Gyotot: Look at them, they're so happy! Just as in Toad Man's stage, coupled with precise jumps over spikes they can be quite the problem.
Sea Mine: They meander up and down slowly, flashing before exploding when Mega comes near. Most enemies in Dive Man's stage are controlled by how near Mega is, thinking about it...that's going to ensure they're placed as much in the way as possible. Thankfully, you can slide under those harmlessly.
- Dive Man - My favourite track in the game. It's so jaunty, catchy and has such a great tune that I catch myself constantly whistling it. Definitely kept me going even after the fifth time in a row Dive Man annihilated me back in the day.