This stage is unique in that there are devices that control the weather, which you can change using your various weapons. (If you've only beaten Overdrive Ostrich, you're stuck with the default weather for each area. Not that it really matters.) If you hit one with the Strike Chain, the weather will be normal. Not too hot, wet, foggy, or anything else. The Speed Burner will make it warm, the Bubble Splash makes it rain, and the Crystal Hunter makes it foggy. Enemies behave differently depending on the weather, but we'll go into more details as we encounter each enemy.
Anyway, right off the bat you'll find the world's easiest to reach heart tank.
Climb the left wall to collect the heart tank. Yup, that's it. Head right and meet a new enemy.
Since you definitely haven't changed the weather yet, these guys will just shoot three shots at a time at you and won't move otherwise. If it's rainy, the large frogs will hop around while the small ones will jump off of their backs and land where the large frogs were standing. They'll explode if you touch them. If it's hot, both frogs will overhead and explode. If it's foggy, they won't appear at all. They only take four shots to die, or just one from the fiery speed burner thanks to their cruddy cooling systems.
You'll reach a crystal that will turn the weather hot by default, and you'll meet another new enemy.
These only appear if the weather is normal or hot. There are actually two types, but you won't know which type you're facing until it attacks. One type fires lasers horizontally. The other fires homing missiles that will explode on their own after a time if you don't destroy them yourself. You can touch these enemies and stand on their heads without taking damage.
In this next area, it will start to rain. When it's raining, you'll constantly be pushed to the left. It won't affect you if you're standing still, but you'll move more quickly to the left and more slowly to the right than normal. You'll also be pushed to the left if you jump. You'll have to use these floating platforms and wall jumps to make it across this spiked pit, or take a detour and skip the spikes entirely while collecting a handy new item.
Time to find our first sub tank. Jump onto the first floating platform you see and use it to jump back to the tree you just came through. Wall jump up the tree and then move to the platform on the right. Grab the 1up you see and continue right until you find a sub tank sitting on the top of the platform. Sub tanks let you store any extra life energy you find while your life meter is full. They're very useful for bosses. There are four in all, meaning you can essentially carry 5 nearly-full life bars with you at a time. Head all the way to the right and drop down.
When you reach an elevator, go underneath it and to the right to find the door to the X-Hunter room. Don't fall into the bottomless pit the elevators are rising from! There's an energy pickup here, too, so it might be worth your time even if there's no X-Hunter here.
Ride the elevators up and past the Scrivers. If you stay close to the right wall, they'll jump right over you and through the elevator. Exit to the right as soon as you can, because there are spikes on the ceiling. Head right through some frogs and another weather machine. Here's another new enemy to deal with.
They fly around and drop lesser enemies for you to deal with. If it's raining, they drop Rightods. Rightods fly around and latch on to you, then summon lighting to damage you. They'll be shocked, too, and be destroyed. While you're being grabbed, you can't jump as high. Shoot them with a charged shot to destroy them after they grab you. If it's normal or hot, Sky Farmers will drop Sabotteins. Sabotteins are spikey vines that grow out of the ground. They grow tall if it's hot but don't grow very much if the weather is mild. If it's foggy, Sky Farmers won't appear at all.
Continue to the right past the Sky Farmers and frogs. Simply jump over any spiked pits you come across. You'll reach a stretch with Sky Farmers, Sole Solars, and small spiked pits. You can probably deal with all of these things easily at this point.
After this, you'll head inside and climb some ladders. Pick up the large life energy pickup. The top floor has Scrivers and an Aclanda, and then the boss door.
Wire Sponge isn't too tough with just the X Buster, though he changes his attack pattern after most of his life has been lost, so beware.
The Hard Way
When Wire Sponge spins his vine in front of himself, you won't be able to shoot through it with the X Buster. This also means he's about to throw his vine out at you horizontally. (He doesn't have to spin his vine before using this attack.) Jump over it. Grab the wall to help you avoid it if you want to. He leaves himself open to attack while he's throwing his vine. If the vine hits a wall, he'll pull himself to it. If he grabs the ceiling, he'll start gradually pulling himself upwards towards the ceiling while spitting seeds that turn into thorny vines on the floor and walls. These can be destroyed. He's easy to damage while he's hanging from the ceiling. He'll eventually become enraged and electrified. This will allow him to cause lightning to rain down. You won't be able to damage him until after he calms down. (He'll still be electrified.)
The Easy Way
Wire Sponge is weak to the Sonic Slicer. Its upwards trajectory means it's easy to hit him as he's hanging from the ceiling. The Sonic Slicer can also cut right through his spinning defensive vine. Since it fires in a pair, the first one will destroy the vine and the second one will damage him. You still won't be able to damage him when he's enraged. The only down side here is that the Sonic Slicer moves slowly, though even if you miss it will probably still hit him eventually. Plus you can fire more than one volley at a time.
The Strike Chain is your reward for beating Wire Sponge. It will shoot a grappling chain directly out in front of you. (You'll have to hold the Y button to extend it, otherwise it will just poke out a short ways before going back into X's arm.) You can use the chain to grapple onto walls and pull yourself toward them. When charged, the Strike Chain is much longer but works basically the same way.
You can use the Strike Chain to collect a heart tank in Crystal Snail's stage. We'll get to that later. More importantly, if this is the second boss you've defeated, the X-Hunters will start appearing in those X-Hunter rooms we've been finding. You can tell which stage each X-Hunter is in on the stage select screen by looking at the map. You'll have to defeat all three of them to collect Zero's parts and get the good ending. When you encounter one, check the X-Hunter section of the guide for a strategy to defeat him with.
NEXT: Wheel Gator