the artistry and psychology of gaming


Aqua Star 4 (Kirby 64)

Aqua Star 4 (Kirby 64)

The world of Popstar is unlike any other as far as its position in the universe.  It seems to me that it drifts in and out of regions of deep space.  I base this assumption on the many different sets of worlds I’ve seen in close proximity to it.  Perhaps Popstar is an intergalactic wanderer, or perhaps Dream Land is more apt a name than I’d thought, in that it floats in and out of dimensions.  Whatever the case, it always brings me to beautiful places, even outside of its own borders.

I’ve already spoken of the planet, Rock Star, with incredible ecological diversity for a desert world.  Today, I’d like to talk about Aqua Star, an appropriately named world covered in endless water.  The first few places I explored were islands and beaches, and even a long river, which were nice, but nothing out of the ordinary.  The last stretch of my journey took place in a set of underwater caverns.  What I discovered was a subterranean submarine wonderland inexplicably filled with coral.

When I first splashed into the water, everything around me was a light blue with sunbeams streaking in.  The walls around me – I am unsure as to whether they were rock or coral – were a lovely purple, and coral of the same color was growing everywhere.  As I descended, my surroundings began to darken.  At the bottom, the water was a dark blue, and there was a cave entrance before me.  It was solemn, eerie, ominous, and inviting all at the same time; I went inside.

Before me was a vast open area that seemed to stretch for miles.  Flat topped mountains in the distance had a lovely purple gradient as their backdrop.  There were circular pits all over, each glowing a different color and periodically emitting bubbles.  Rocks of very basic geometric shapes fell from above; I could not tell whether I was inside or outside, so their origin remained a mystery.  Getting lost in the vision before me, I absentmindedly swam forth, eventually reaching another opening, through which I swam.

The next area was fairly dark, except for the sand that had settled at the bottom, which was the same color of that which you’d find at most beaches.  The bluish rocks were nothing special, though they gave the appearance that I was inside.  Dark green seaweed outlined in a lighter green was waving in the strong currents here.  This area was small, except vertically, so I swam upward.  The current zigzagged as I ascended, pushing me helplessly from side to side.  At the top was another passage, which I followed to the next area.

I was in a tunnel with a swift current; it was one that I was unable to fight, no matter how hard I swam.  The tunnel shifted from blue-green to yellow to a dark area with dull orange spots of light as I was pushed along.  When I reached a pink area, I found a bar of some sort, and held onto it with every ounce of strength I had.  From here, I was able to get a better idea of what was ahead, and when I was ready, I let go and allowed the current to carry me to the end.  I wound up in a round room with a current that took me in circles.  There was a giant sea creature – some kind of blowfish, I believe – in here, which I did my best to avoid.  I carefully made my way out of this chamber when the current had brought me to the opening.

I was in a long tunnel of dull green that had a mean current.  Several of the geometric rocks blasted by me as I did my best to swim out of the way; somehow, they were moving more swiftly than I was, despite their greater weight.  I was occasionally able to duck into safe pockets where neither the rocks nor the current could touch me.  After a while in this dangerous tube, I found a pocket above with an opening that had a red glow coming from it.  Ominous as it seemed, when I went inside, I was out of the water in a peaceful area; the perfect spot for a picnic lunch!

In nature, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between inside and outside, but what is inside, really?  Completely enclosed within walls with a ceiling overhead and a floor beneath is certainly inside, but what if only some of those conditions are met?  What if you are under a roof with no walls?  What if you are surrounded by walls but there is open sky above you?  Does that mean you’re just on the other side of a wall?  Part of the issue is also semantics; one might argue that I was inside a body of water the entire time.  The question is indeed difficult to answer because nature, in fact, does not ever make such a distinction; in such a case, we are applying our own rules to something outside of our boundaries.

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