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So a month or two ago, I talked about Thardus, an enemy from Metroid Prime, and in the process mentioned that the original Prime is much better than the sequels. And in some ways it is, but Metroid Prime 2: Echoes does have one advantage in that the forces Samus faces here are far more present and eerie. The first game primarily has Samus fight wild animals, mutated creatures made from Phazon, and the Space Pirates, but the latter aren’t all that central to the plot, and are merely profiting from the presence of Phazon. Not so with the Ing.
The story of Echoes is that there is a planet, Aether, where a species called the Luminoth once lived peacefully. But a meteor struck their world, much like with Tallon IV in the previous game, completely altering the world’s geography, but also altering in on a deeper level, creating a twisted, dark version of it called Dark Aether. And on this dark world is evil version of the Luminoth, the Ing.
While the Luminoth are large, spindly moth-like beings, the Ing are can shapeshift into a variety of shapes, and are apparently somehow molded into certain shapes as they develop in their society. Some Ing, such as Bladepods, simply serve as stationary containers or the like and are generally harmless. However, those that can move all share the abilities to change into a shapeless blob and move along any surface, and the power to possess other creatures.
This is what makes them actually dangerous to the Luminoth- that they can create portals to normal Aether and come out as a sort of mist to possess other creatures. Normally, dark creatures cannot survive in the light world, and vice versa, as the Ing discovered through a couple of attempts.
But by possessing light creatures, they can survive there, and take the possessed creature’s powers. In fact, the vast majority of Ing you’ll face are stronger, possessed versions of normal animals and enemies. However, no matter what form they are in, all Ing are weak to the Light Beam, for obvious reasons.
In Dark Ather itself, however, they do not need to possess other creatures, nor do they generally, instead fighting in their own forms. The luminoth, in their efforts to battle the Ing, have placed various Crystals and Beacons that make light energy. These hurt the Ing when they enter their field of effect, and heal you. It is only through these that Samus can enter their world at all- otherwise she would be constantly exposed to the toxic atmosphere and either be forced to flee or die from exposure once her shields burnt out.
Setting that aside, what do normal Ing looks like? Well, the very first variety you’ll bump into are harmless Bladepods, which look about like you would think. The next, however, is the Inglet. Inglets look like black stalks that raise to make a blobby ‘head’ with a red mass inside.
This red mass seems to be their brain, or nerve cluster, or something like that. In other Ing this would also appear to be their eye, though again, it may just look that way. Inglets can shift into their blob form to move, but when in their normal form they cannot move at all. Their only method of attack is to fire a small blast of dark energy at Samus, which does minimal damage. A single charged shot, or normal Light shot will kill them instantly.
As you might have guessed, Inglets are not the fighters of the Ing Horde, but instead their workers, moving things here and there, performing needed tasks, that sort of thing. As such, they are weak, easy to destroy, and very common. You’ll definitely run into more of these than any other. As the Logbook says, “They seldom travel alone, and can be dangerous in large numbers.”
The Warrior Ing, in contrast, are the soldiers, and accordingly are far tougher and have more varied abilities. They look rather like a black hand of sorts, or maybe a five-legged spider, topped by a glowing red ‘eye’. They can run very quickly when they want to, or change into that blob form to move along walls or ceilings. Up close they slash at Samus with their razor-sharp limbs, and if you engage them at a distance they can open small portals of some sort to fire lasers at you, both to hit you and push you out of any safe zones. They can also launch themselves at an enemy to try and possess them. However, thanks to an item that Samus found near the beginning of the game, this is impossible for them- the most they can do is cause Samus damage before jumping off.
Some Warrior Ings attack Samus earlier in the game, stealing her items, and two of these are later fought in their natural forms, noticeably bigger and stronger than before, with far more health and one new attack based on the item. They both appear identical, looking like larger, bulkier Warrior Ing. They retain all the same attacks, but they can take far more damage.
The Jump Guardian, holding onto Samus’s Space Jump Boots, will battle her in a large-ish room with high platforms you cannot reach and a Light Crystal, which you will be staying near the entire time to heal you from its attacks and to stop the poisonous atmosphere for doing the Jump Guardian’s job for it. Aside from the usual attacks, Jump Guardian can also form a energy field around it that deflects attacks, then boost up to the higher platform, sniping at you with blasts from there. After a while he will jump back down, producing a large shockwave.
The Boost Guardian, on the other hand, seems to have picked an arena that give it a very different advantage. It’s special ability is that it can move into a copy of Samus’s Morph Ball and boost around at high speeds, and there are four pillars in the room that it can bounce off of, those it occasionally destroys one, leaving behind a power up for you.
More importantly, this is the first boss to face you where you have no Light Crystals or Beacons, meaning there are no safe zones to heal you or keep you from taking constant damage. Even worse, the boost attack it uses is very damaging, capable of inflicting 50 damage, assuming you got the Dark Suit. It can be forced out of its ball form with a bomb, but given its speed it’s quite hard to hit it, and nothing else ill harm it at all at this point. For this reason, Boost Guardian is regarded as one of the game’s most difficult bosses.
Later on in the game, you’ll run into the final ‘common’ variety of Ing- the Hunters. The Hunter Ing are very, very different from their brethren, being a coiling mass of tendrils with a red core inside, ending in four tentacles that they use to attack. They also possess the unique ability to phase in and out of reality, making them impossible to hit. They can also float through Samus while like this to scramble her visor, possibly another attempt to possess her. When they phase out they might seem to teleport, but they can be tracked with the Dark Visor.
They are more durable than Warrior Ing, and are intelligent enough to phase out to dodge charge shots. In addition, they are the only Ing allowed to possess Pirate Commandos. When possessing them, they retain their power to teleport, as well as the pirate’s weaponry, inclusing EMP grenades to scramble Samus’s Visor, a dagger for close-range attacks, and a dark enemy blast. However, I find these actually pretty easy to deal with- they can’t dodge blasts like they normally can, and a charged Dark shot will freeze them. Add in a missile to shatter them and they’re done.
While these are the main forms of Ing you’ll see, there are also a few others- Ingstorm, incredibly small Ing that appear in certain spots and, unless you have the Light Suit, can rip through your suit in short order. There are also Ing Larva, which are exactly that- harmless juvenile Ing that move in swarms for protection.
What is missing, I noticed, is virtually any indication of their culture. The Luminoth, the dead Marines who landed on Aether, and the Space Pirates all get Lore that you can find throughout the game. The Ing, on the other hand, have no such thing, being put into the role of a silent utterly alien menace. In a way this makes sense- they certainly don’t have hands, but it is a little annoying to me.
However, what we do see is that they function a lot like ants, grooming their young to do certain jobs as they mature, to do their particular part for the Horde. What we see outwardly is alien monsters with tactics, but no morality, but likely they are just as sentient as the Luminoth- but given their leader wants to conquer Aether, and their society is a rigid caste system, odds are they cannot speak out against this, and they have no reason to– they’re taught early on that anything else is the enemy, and to depend on each other, nothing else. They’re taught that all other creatures are possessions, literally, to use and discard for the betterment of the Horde.
As for the one who started all this, their Emperor, he is the final boss of the game, as one may expect, and a very difficult, long battle. However, I do not have time or space to talk about him today, so that will be the next article. I hope you enjoyed, dear readers, and I’ll see you then.