the artistry and psychology of gaming


2300 AD (Chrono Trigger)

2300 AD (Chrono Trigger)

I once had a very strange experience in a mostly unremarkable world.  It is something that I simply cannot explain: I was able to freely travel through time.  I know that time travel is impossible, and yet the different eras to which I traveled had too many historical events in common to suggest otherwise.  It was a group of adventurers who had allowed me to try this out, and their method of four-dimensional travel was really quite spectacular.  They had this strange, egg-shaped craft with wings on its sides.  It was capable of flying so fast that it broke the barrier of time, allowing them to travel back and forth between eras.  It makes absolutely no sense from a scientific standpoint, but the allure of a flying time machine provided an adventure so unforgettable that I didn’t think much about it at the time.

Not every era was in good standing, however; the year 2300 A.D. was a desolate epoch.  As it happens, a horrifying creature had fallen from space tens of millions of years prior, and in the year 1999 A.D., it had resurfaced to destroy everything.  No one has any idea as to its motivation, but it stopped feeding upon the life force of the planet simply to fire copious energy beams into the sky, only to have them rain down upon the hapless victims.  Society was completely destroyed, most plant life died out, and those few who survived lived in rags, scrounging up what food they can, trying to utilize what little of their technology wasn’t broken.  While the cracked streets and broken domes were nothing short of depressing, the outside world had a bleak sense of visual wonder to it.

Thick debris permanently blocked out the sun, coloring the oceans a dull gray.  The ground beneath these eternally cloudy skies was naught but desert; an endless sea of brown sands.  High winds constantly blew, carrying this sand through the air, and making a sound so sharp that it cuts through the ear drums.  Entire contemporary cities were in ruins, leaving skyscrapers diagonal at best, but usually on their sides.  Large mountains rose from the ground, and a few dome cities – clad in orange and a dull blue – spotted the landscape.  More than anything, though, was the vast number of craters, both large and small.  In a mere three hundred years, an affluent, futuristic world was rendered a barren, lifeless wasteland.

The biggest landmass has the most to see.  On the western end are Trann and Bangor Dome, which contain very little space that isn’t covered in rubble.  Just north of Bangor Dome is Lab 16; I am uncertain of its purpose, but it is a long stretch of shattered streets inhabited by berserk robots and dangerous mutants.  On the eastern end is the Proto Dome and the factory where the R-Series – a group of powerful, intelligent androids – are manufactured.  Despite there being no humans to tend to the factory, it is automated, and runs without them.  To the west of the factory is Lab 32, another desolate stretch of damaged roadways, this one long enough that drag races are commonly held there by a cyborg named Johnny and anyone willing to challenge him.  In between the two labs sit both the Arris Dome – the only place on the planet still inhabited by humans – and the Sewer Access.

The Sewer Access is exactly what its name implies, and the sewers lead to a smaller landmass just to the south.  Here sits the Keeper’s Dome, a place of great mystery.  The adventurers told me that an old man in flashy garb once lived there, and that he is the one who built their time machine.  North of the Keeper’s Dome is Death Peak, a foreboding mountain of black, covered in snow rendered purple by the haze above.  Violent winds whip through this place, and immature versions of the creature who destroyed this world once lived there.  The adventurers told me of an event that occurred there during a solar eclipse, but you’d never believe it if I told you; I certainly didn’t.

There are three small islands strewn about the ocean large enough for only one major landmark each.  To the south of the Keeper’s Dome was an island that had a cave within its mountainside.  Inside this cave was the Sun Palace, a place where a wondrous artifact is guarded by a being of mysterious origins.  To the east of the Keeper’s Dome is a factory cryptically known as the Geno Dome.  This is where the Mother Brain that controls the R-Series is located.  The Mother Brain has gone haywire in the last three hundred years, and is issuing commands to all robots to eradicate any and all humans on sight.  Far north of the Geno Dome is the Sun Keep, where the mysterious object in the Sun Palace is to be left; it is a small cave within another mountain, this one having only a hole in its roof through which sunlight constantly pours, suggesting that the artifact in question is solar-powered.

My time spent with these adventurers gave me cause to wonder: if one could foresee a disaster capable of ending the world, would it be prudent to rectify it?  The adventurers gave the obvious answer of yes, but I’m not so sure.  In nature, prey animals have no saviors from their predators any more than plants have saviors from herbivores.  This creature’s motivations were completely unknown; perhaps it was just propagating its own species, or perhaps it was destroying this world in order to save many more, because this particular world would cause their destruction over time.  Perhaps it was even the case that the planet was better off without human life, because they had been polluting it.  To assert that humans alone deserve to survive is nothing short of arrogance, and perhaps they were missing the bigger picture; who can say what is truly right?

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