Updated: Jan 3, 2019
DISCLAIMER: This story will have graphic imagery. If you are squeamish, I highly recommend not reading any further.
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 that I have to do, so that I can put it 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. 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 color of the board and the music was an eerie whistling tune.
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. This time, my enemies are Destroyah and Ghidorah. Judging from the icon, it was a different Ghidorah than the original, which is standing 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" by going to the quiz level before doing anything else. I was not ready for what happened.
I jumped back when this appeared accompanied by a terribly distorted version of the password menu music. It looked as though Face has fallen victim to some terrible glitch. Is this what he meant by "Will you miss me?" Did he know this would happen? 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.
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:
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!"
The game's behavior was scaring me and I had not even started the levels yet. I couldn't understand why I was randomly given a new character and then denied use of it. For the time being, there was little that could be done.
I viewed the last TV screen and this appeared:
No animation. No music. Dead.
Every instinct I had was telling me to stop playing. To just turn the game off. 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 the first level was a red temple, so at least I would be familiar with the level graphics if nothing else. I went in with Godzilla, the monster I am most familiar with. Godzilla had been shrunk, the level and score meters are gone, and the blue temple faces were back. The music was similar to the blue temple also. It was strange and had haunting vocalizations. I tried to get my spirits up by thinking, "Well, if this level is like the blue temple level, then that might mean that there are no enemies to deal with." How wrong I was.
After a short walk, all of the statue's eyes starting to glow and a pack of the beasts from the shadow labyrinth came charging into me. Since they were coming from the right of the screen, I had to fight my way through.
The battle greatly tested my reflexes, but thanks to my speed I plowed through the beasts. They gave out health power-ups after dying, which helped recover the damage they had given me.
However, as I continued through the hallway, the statues eyes glowed again, summoning another wave. It seemed to be the same number of them, but I was less prepared this time and took 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.
At first, it seemed as if I had reached a dead end, but after the eyes from the faces 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 going to jump up on the 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.
As I went through, the path took a downward direction. I had to aim my jumps carefully 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.
At the end of this tunnel, there was a few small platforms floating above nothingness. I landed on the 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.
Any pleasant feelings I had from the blue angel were not present with this red one. As it hovered around, its eye sockets started glowing. Just like the statues, it summoned monsters to attack me. Surely, this was not the same benevolent being I encountered before. This was some kind of imposter.
The battle was nerve wracking as I started off with nearly half health and I had to deal with multiple opponents as well as threat of gravity. To make things even worse, as the red angel took damage some of the panels fell until only three remained. But my luck had not run 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.
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 to be a garbled mess of letters spelling KILL, and began playing.
As suspected, all of the level's graphics were made of jumbled letters. Just like Godzilla, Mothra was shrunk to half the size. I began to suspect that all of Zenith's levels would be like this.
The background music was terrible. It was like if someone put all of the sounds that the NES was capable of making into a blender and then piecing them back together as a "song." I had to turn the volume down because of it.
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. Later on, there were hybrid monsters pieced together from previous bosses like the thing with the Biollante head.
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 like a blood drenched junkyard. The way everything in this level was red made it sickening to look at.
The enemies multiplied in numbers never ceasing to follow after me and it became harder and harder to avoid. At the end of the level, the situation reached a climax as the swarms of monsters fused together in one enormous terrifying hybrid.
Once I had gotten through the initial shock, I discovered a way to destroy this thing. I had to constantly shoot eye beams at the Hedorah cluster that formed its "head." If I attacked anywhere else, it would regenerate the damage.
Even with that knowledge, this was an extremely difficult fight. I'd say this was as hard as fighting the Moon Beast, if not harder. Its common attack was lunging forward with its arms covered in Gigan's 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.
When I came back to the board, I thought to myself, "So far, this game has been putting the easiest levels first...if that's the case, then 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 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 flames.
The middle icon I still didn't get, except it looked "fleshy" and vaguely looks 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 in 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 what 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 down just like Godzilla and Mothra had been. Apparently, all of the Zenith levels would be like this. I felt less secure with my giant monsters no longer being 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 membranes meant for gliding on their arms and lamprey like mouths were perched on the 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 lake, 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 became 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...
They sprang to life and leaped on to me! They were trying to pull me under and they were draining my health as they did. They all attacked as a group and when I got one off of me, another would jump on me from behind. I had to curl up into a ball and roll for them to loosen their grip. When they did, I quickly retreated.
It wasn't long before I reached another land path. A note regarding the brambles, you can stand on them, but it causes pain. You can destroy some of the vines, but only the thinner ones. I had to destroy multiple vines as well as dealing with more enemies.
Now, all I could think of was getting the hell out of this level as quickly as possible. My heart was racing and my thumbs were straining from the stress of pounding on the buttons on my controller to get to the exit as fast as possible.
Suddenly, I was interrupted by this screen:
The screen was up for about thirty seconds. Then when it went back to the level, I was facing another dead end and pregnant humanoid creature being hung from the top right of the screen by a spine or umbilical cord. Instantly, the creature's belly was ripped open from the inside!
As the lower part of its body was ripped apart and fell into the river below, the Blood Lake's 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 its mouth and shot 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.