What the hell? That extremely expensive shield from the shop at the end of the beach section... it's lower stats than the shield I have now. It's useless.
The Dragon Zombie boss is extremely easy, the only reason I died last time I got here was because I sucked at dodging the enemies in the mouse maze corridors and ran out of health from the timer. This time I prepared by grinding for a few potions at the Jungle potion shop, and I did way better at the mouse maze this time and got lucky enough with health drops that I didn't even need a single potion...
Next I got turned into a mermaid. I still have a sword and can shield projectiles by standing still like the mouse, but now instead of climbing checkered walls, I have a swimming ability.
Explored the underwater section of the beach... the only thing I found was this shop selling a new shield, and a path that's blocked off that I can't go to yet.
Then I went into the well again, and noticed on the way towards the door to the beach, I can swim up through another well and it leads to this unexplored part of town, with a door I can't get to until I can destroy certain blocks, and another door leading to a chest with money, and a drop off leading back down to the beach.
The only way to go now is to the volcano section, east of the desert. With the equipment I have now, I'm actually able to survive this crazy hard lava platforming section... even though I did really badly and fell in the lava a lot, the invincibility frames plus the potions I had stocked up were enough to make it through.
More than half-way through is the shop that sells the lava-resistant armor. This makes the rest of the volcano area very easy.
At the end of the volcano stage, you get to the transformation room. I like how this looks in the remake. It even teases the Tiger form which I don't have yet. It's very obvious what to do here, you really can't do anything else at this dead end besides turn into the mouse, and walk up to the chest to get the Thunder Ring. And then you are trapped up there until you realize that the Thunder Ring enables you to destroy those stone blocks, and that's how you get to the return to town door.
The Thunder Ring gives you access to another shop in the part of town that you can get to with the mermaid form. I only bought the armor here for now, since it's a much bigger stat upgrade than the new weapon.
Exploring the underwater beach section again... got to a new area and entered an upside down door leading to the sunken ship.
The Shipwreck stage is full of ghost enemies that only appear when you get close to them, and some only appear behind you after you have passed their spawn point, leading to situations where you're surrounded and need to act very skillfully to block everything... and also green moblin enemies that take like 10 hits to kill, and each time you hit them they get pushed back and then throw some arched projectiles at you. Also the ghost enemies get tougher different colored variations later on that take longer to kill. This level isn't joking around... I ended up dying after losing my last potion. I should've been using my items more frequently, but now I'm back to having nothing.