the artistry and psychology of gaming


Crateria (Super Metroid)

Crateria (Super Metroid)

I have been to a planet known as Zebes several times.  It is one of the most unusual planets I have visited in that, while the surface appears to be a barren, rocky wasteland, the planet’s subterrane is quite diverse.  The underground jungle of Brinstar has many plants in atypical colors, since they would not need to absorb sunlight.  The burning magma pools of Norfair have a surprisingly high population of creatures that thrive in the incredible heat.  The dark, eerie waters of Maridia, of which I’ve already spoken, have all manner of unusual construction.  Today, though, I’d like to talk about the surface.

Crateria seems completely inhospitable, and is perhaps not very diverse, but what makes it so special is the perpetual cloud cover.  Never have I seen even a single ray of sunlight break through the gray skies of Planet Zebes.  Despite this, my memories of its colorless beauty are among the reasons I love cloudy days so much.  Now, some of Crateria is subterranean, but I’d like to focus completely upon its open areas today, despite the caverns’ fascinating fauna, large mushrooms, and intriguing ruins.

Crateria itself is broken into six basic areas, each assigned a letter.  Area A is the best place to land a ship, so it is a good place to begin exploring.  Upon landing, I was greeted by the light gray cloudy skies of a moderate rainstorm.  The rain itself was a bit unusual in that the raindrops fell in clusters, almost like a tight falling mist.  The lightning occasionally streaked across the sky far from my location.  I could only stare into the horizon as the ripples in the cloud cover cast their monochromatic haze upon the distant mountains.  Close up, I could see that the rock beneath me was of a purplish color with flecks of a pinkish color that is quite hard to describe, and faded to a dark blueish-greenish color in the distance before eventually melding into the gray of the mountains.  Occasional patches of green grass spotted the wonderfully dreary landscape.

Looking straight up, I could see rock walls stretching into the sky on either side of me.  I went into the only obvious passage and entered the cavern.  Returning several hours later, I found that the rain had stopped, which had caused the sky to darken.  This time, I decided to scale a pillar of rock with small steps jutting out of it, then made my way down a series of steps and floating rock platforms.  I made my way through a tube and a small cavern, emerging into Area E: a large, ruined area, which had a lake at its bottom.  Within the waters were some fish of the same species found in Maridia and very tall sponges of green.  I made my way across a veritable jungle gym of scaffolding, the dark clouds blanketing the atmosphere around me.  At its end, I entered a door, taking me into a ruined spaceship.

Coming back out of the wrecked ship, I was at a higher elevation of Area E, the skies now darker due to my increased altitude.  There were a great many floating rock platforms here, and at the far end, in an alcove, was a tiny maze of rock, into which it was difficult to fit.  Perhaps this was some sort of warren for some of the smaller native species.  Passing through a small cavern, I came onto a closed bridge, spotting a rare race of one such creature above me.

On the other side of the wrecked ship, I came to Area F: a small open cavern almost entirely submerged.  This was unlike most caverns in that, while it had a rock ceiling, it had no walls, and one could still see the mountains in the distance, making it a weird amalgamation of interior and exterior.  This led to a closed cavern with an extensive rock maze, which, unsurprisingly, leads to Maridia.

While most who know me know that I am an ardent lover of bright colors, and generally hate gray, I do love cloudy days, with or without precipitation.  I believe that the reason for this is one of two, or possibly a combination thereof.  For one, I love seeing things in different colors, and a cloudy day is a rare change in the sky’s color, which would also explain why I love sunrises, sunsets, and cloudless nights beneath the stars.  The other reason is that it is a natural gray, rather than an artificial one.  One can traverse the same static metal corridors endlessly, but there is something to be said for a natural monochrome subtly casting its influence upon the land below.  One thing is for certain: my fondness of Crateria was only augmented by my having returned to it several times during a single adventure.

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