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Sometimes characters become so synonymous with their series that they are the first thing anyone thinks of. Usually that character is the hero, but sometimes, it is the villain that takes center stage. For me, Ridley is synonymous with Metroid.
Ridley is the nemesis of Samus Aran, general of the Space Pirates, and he simply will not, ever, ever, ever stay dead. The reason he is so associated with the series as a whole is because you can caught the games where he isn’t present on one hand, and he always returns to fight Samus, no matter how many times he is defeated.
It is rather like Bowser, except Bowser rarely dies. It has happened, but usually he is shown to survive. Ridley, on the other hand, like just about every other boss in his series, violently explodes when beaten. Presumably they clone him or something. Today I’ll be looking at Ridley in Metroid: Zero Mission, Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion.
Zero Mission is a remake of the original Metroid with updated graphics and so forth to match up with the rest of the games. This makes a lot of sense, because it is odd comparatively. While Mother Brain doesn’t look too different from her more modern appearance, Kraid and Ridley were both about Samus’s size, Kraid seemed to have green fur along his back, and Ridley could only hop, not fly. Both could be harmed by any weapon, but took an absurd amount of hits.
Luckily, here they’re brought back as their usual selves. Kraid is so large Samus has to use the spikes he fires to reach his head and shoot him in the mouth. Ridley looks like a dragon of some sort, able to fly and lift Samus off the ground.
Anyway, on to Ridley himself. As I said, he’s a general of the Space Pirate forces, and he and Samus have some history. He lead the raid on K-2L, her home, and slaughtered everyone there, her parents included. So as you might expect, it’s rather personal. Not that you’d know from Zero Mission, as Samus doesn’t mention it herself.
Still, he is definitely a tough battle, and actually tries to trick her- you can run into the boss room, but he isn’t there. The door onward is open, so you go in and get the item. However, being unknown, your suit cannot use it, so it is of no help except it lets Samus destroy certainly blocks. There’s on behind her, so shoot it, and go through the false wall to get an Energy Tank. This will restore any health you lost on the way to Ridley, and make you that much stronger to face him. The Chozo Statue will also restore health and ammo.
When you go back out of the item room, Ridley drops down on you for a surprise attack while you’re facing away from him. The edges of the floor will crumble as he lands, meaning you can fall into lava on either side. Ridley cannot be harmed by Samus’s normal shots, only charge shots and missiles. However, the regular blasts can counter his fireballs, allowing you to stop them before they reach you. When he is firing, that should be your main objective.
When he is done, he will fly up, allowing you to shoot him while he is above you. He will also take the time to shoot bigger fireballs which will linger as they hit the wall, another good reason to stay under him. He sometimes will drop down on you or rise up, seemingly at random. As he starts taking damage, you can tell by his coloration, and he will start swatting at you with his tail as he keeps firing. This means he can hit you even if you are under him, and potentially knock you into the lava if you are not careful. The tail itself is immune to damage, meaning he cannot be hit from behind, and he may swipe your attacks away harmlessly.
If you do get behind him, he will fly backwards and stab down with his tail along the ground, meaning the only way to dodge at that point is to use the Morph Ball to roll under the attack with good timing. He then resumes his usual pattern. He also can pick you up by swooping down on you, which does constant damage, and he will breathe fire on you, but you can make him let you go with blasts on your part. If you have a good amount of energy tanks, odds are he won’t really have much of a chance of defeating you.
His death lets Samus move on to face Mother Brain, and so continue through the game. After that, Samus actually crash lands and has to traverse Ridley’s own spaceship to find a way off the planet, but I’ll save that for another time. For now, let’s look at Super Metroid.
Here you meet Ridley very late in the game, at least if you play through it the way you’re meant to. Of the four main bosses, he is the toughest and last you must face before Mother Brain. He is also the first enemy you see, appearing the prologue where he steals the last surviving Metroid and flies off with it, though not before you get in a fight with him.
He fights much as he will later on, but he mostly keeps to the right side of the room, shooting fireballs. They are very hard to dodge giving how well they are spread out, and even after they hit something they ‘spread’ over the surface a bit, meaning the best way to dodge them is simply to go to a different spot entirely via jumping.
The room is small and cramped, so it may be best to move about as much as possible. He will also ram you and lash out with his tail, but this battle is just a preview. If you hit him enough or your health gets too low, he flies off, because a self-destruct mechanism turns on, forcing both of the adversaries to retreat.
When you face him much later, it will be in Norfair, specifically a section so hot that you need the Varia Suit just to survive, after getting through what seems to be a special variant of Space Pirate with ninja-like powers, capable of somersaulting and drop kicking you. They are normally invincible, but when they jump they are vulnerable.
Onto Ridley himself, you do not have health or ammo restoring devices before the fight this time, and as before you fight on a platform over lava. He comes out of the shadows, once again trying to sneak attack you, and generally will fly over you on the massive shaft above the platform, shooting fireballs down on you. He will occasionally descend to try and stab you with his tail, which still is immune to attack.
You can use the Space Jump to attack him in midair, but I personally find that taxing to manage, and prefer to simply wait for him to come down to me, as I cannot easily shoot him back. He prefaces all his blasts with a roar, so you do know when they are coming. He can also grab you and simply swoop down and ram you, but the tail and fireballs are certainly the biggest threat.
He uses much the same tactics as in Zero Mission, but he has much more health and moves far more quickly. He also seems to be smaller in this game, which works in his favor by making him harder to hit as well as faster and stronger. After he is beaten, there isn’t actually a item reward, just a room with a broken canister that once held the last Metroid. Probably left there by Ridley just to spite Samus in case he lost. The room does, however, contain an energy tank just under the door.
Moving onto Fusion, here Samus is tackling the threat of X Parasites, organisms that infect creatures, destroy them from within, and turn into copies of them. The space station the game takes place on is to study life forms from SR388, but you might have the first sign that something odd is going on when you run into a freezing room. Samus normally takes damage, but with the Varia Suit you can enter, and you see what can only be the frozen body of Ridley.
You cannot reach him then, but later on you’ll come onto the room from behind. At that point the seemingly dead Ridley will open an eye… only to them crumble to pieces as an X Parasite flies out of the room. Either his restored corpse was stored there, or he was frozen alive and then infected. Neither sounds pleasant, but regardless, his new copy fills his usual role of the game’s semi-final boss.
Neo-Ridley, or Ridley-X, looks a bit different than regular Ridley, with noticeably bigger hands and body. In fact, he is bigger than either of the monster’s previous battles, making him easier to hit. He doesn’t try to surprise you- in fact, he actually rars in Samus’s face before the battle starts. Samus also charges her shots much quicker than in Super Metroid, and since she will have the Plasma Beam her shots will literally rip through the huge Ridley to do more damage, making it actually more useful than missiles, unless he grabs you, in which case they will be needed to get him to let go.
All of his fireballs are bigger than they were in previous games, but they do not spread on impact like in Super Metroid. He also either shoots fireballs, or attacks with tail swipes, not both. The chamber is wider, giving Samus more room to maneuver, so all in all this ends up being an easier battle than previous ones, likely due to the X Parasite’s lower intelligence in tactics and by it making Ridley bigger.
A good idea in most cases, but not when facing Samus. Also, I like to think it’s not just intelligence, but drive. The X have nothing personal against Samus, since they don’t have emotions. Ridley outright despises her for all the times she has defeated him, and the feeling is mutual, so one of the reasons he was so difficult to beat in Super Metroid could be that he was that determined to beat her.
Facing the X does mean, however, mean the fight doesn’t end with Ridley-X dying. The parasite will return to normal on Ridley’s defeat, and will try to ram Samus. However, it produces more X you can use for health and ammo when shot with your beam, and a few good missile shots will put it down, allowing Samus to obtain the Screw Attack from it on victory.
Looking at these three games, you can kind of see a progression- Ridley started out as a crafty and powerful foe, only becoming more so in Super Metroid, quicker and stronger. After his death the X Parasites copied him, but it was merely a pale shadow of the one creature that could be called Samus’s nemesis.