The next round appears to have been constructed entirely out of vague geometric shapes, just like 7 Stage in Hard Head 2. Grrrreeeaaat.



And funnily enough, 'vague geometric shapes' really is the best way to describe this level, as there's a noticeable lack of enemies- instead, your foe is the level itself. The orange walls are back with a vengeance, and they're here to make your life a living hell. The first section of the level is nothing but jumping over these moving walls on to moving platforms, and the collision detection does everything in its power to screw you over. If you lightly tap the orange walls, you'd better get ready to start this section over again, because it will count as a hit, and you will fall to your death. The only minor perk of this section is the abundance of Red Orb items, so you might luck out and get the 7560 one. Sure, the score's pointless, but it's a perk nonetheless. The rest is rather frustrating, as nailing these jumps isn't as easy as it should be.



After the initial orange walls segment, we've got more precarious platform perils (mercifully without the orange menace) before we finally hit some solid land... To be assaulted by these weird tower things which launch up to five disks at you, 'til they're nothing but a harmless and destructible head. Fortunately, their shots are really easy to avoid. There's also some completely harmless giant dice (which I didn't get on this round, but it's on the intro page if you're that desperate) which don't seem to attack you at all. However, the enemies here are really easy to handle, so this section goes by pretty quickly.



Then, we return to the platform hopping. Gah. With no enemies in sight, a huge mess of disjointed platforms await you, populated by lines of bullets that spin around, like the fire chains from Super Mario Bros., which will probably kill you if you brush them, given the tiny size of the platforms you've got to get past. Like the opening section, this part is pretty tough, and you've got to keep moving to avoid the chains. This section drags on for a bit, but eventually...



Haha, freedom! Escape from this horrible level is within my grasp!



Ah, now this boss is a little bit different. The fight starts out with five giant disks flying around and firing loads of bullets at you. After a while spinning around, they'll form together, launch out a circle spread of bullets, and, well, that giant red thing shows up. Hey, haven't we seen that before? It's a Dharma doll, which also appeared on John Smith's shirt in The Outfoxies, but that's not the point here. It seems that Namco's forgotten that this is supposed to be Alice in Wonderland, not Alice in Doki Doki Japan World! Where the hell is the Cheshire Cat? The Caterpillar?! The Mad Hatter?! The literature geek within me is fuming right now. Fuming. Back to the task at hand, the Dharma doll doesn't really do much at this point in the battle, but while he's standing on top of the disks, they become easy targets.



Keep at it, and you'll destroy the disks one by one, making the fight less chaotic each time you take one out. By the end, the little doll guy is all on his own, and all he really does is hover around a bit while firing bullets at you. He's not nearly as bad as the Giant Chicken Thing, though, so count your blessings. He goes down pretty quickly.



Another round, another mirror. Where to next?



If the map is anything to go by, our next location is Super Fun Metal Things Land!



Well, close enough- the ground's metal enough. The major enemy that debuts on Round 4 is the Skull Turret- these things just sit still and bombard you with bullets. They also take about 5 shots to kill, so they don't go down without a fight. Lucky for you, there's hundreds of these assholes peppered about this round. Have fun with that, and have even more fun with the platform action shown in the screenshot on the right- this jump appears several times in this level, and it's just as hard to get right each time. Sodding isometric perspective.



Fortunately, the game decides to give you a break pretty early on, and there's a chequered platform that leads to a small area with a White Rabbit item and- alright!- a Balloon! Super-useful. With these items in tow, you've now got to run a gauntlet, assaulted from both sides by the Skull Turrets. Fortunately, they're neatly arranged in rows, so you can take them out by charging up a shot, one for each side.



As we get further on, while the attacks from the giant rectangles (clearly stolen from Xevious, no less) get more intense, you can easily see that the insane platform negotiation from the last round, aside from the cruel jump at the beginning, is mostly absent here- these big platforms move around a bit, but they're not as bad as anything we saw in Round 3. Additionally, we see the return of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as well as some new Robot enemies. I'd point out that there were no robots in the original books, but you know what? I've given up hope of seeing anything from the books in this game at this point, so let's soldier on.



Ooh, three in one. This level drags on a bit, so I wanted to end this as quickly as I could. Alice makes her way across a long thin catwalk (on the left side, you'll find a Red Orb, on the left, a Yellow one) then past the Robot hordes amid some non-threatening moving platforms (seriously, you don't even have to jump for these ones) and finally, she ends up in a very strange area with holes in the floor and platforms that don't seem to go anywhere. We also get a pretty intense firefight with the Robots, who pile in and are pretty relentless... Despite the odds, though, it's a little too easy. Shame.



And after all that malarky, it's that time again! Boss Time!



... I'm not going to make a 'Robo-Cock' joke...

Oh, screw it. It's a giant blue robot with a crotch-mounted ball cannon, what more can I say? Do I really need to ruin this with more words? Well, OK then. Let's not focus on the robot's 'equipment' and look at the attack pattern. Continuing in the Bullet Hell tradition of the last few bosses, this robot floods the area with bullets, while moving about a bit. Like, I don't know, every boss up to this point. You might want to use the 'jump and charge' technique to make things slightly easier, but there's plenty of gaps between the bullets... If you want to be a show-off.



So, we're at roughly the half-way point now. Only five rounds left.

Is the Cheshire Cat on the next page? Please?!