the artistry and psychology of gaming


Crystal Castle (Castlevania: Belmont’s Revenge)

Crystal Castle (Castlevania: Belmont’s Revenge)

There was once a simple countryside that led a decent existence prior to the 11th Century C.E. Reports of its actual name vary, but Warakiya is the one with which I’m most familiar, so let us refer to it thus.  It was your typical grassy countryside with a few mountains and forests; nothing too out of the ordinary, but in the 11th Century C.E., a powerful vampire was struck down, and his demise brought to life one of the most reviled creatures to have ever lived there: a vampire known as none other than Count Dracula.  Dracula has spent centuries upon centuries of his eternal life terrorizing the countryside, making it a miserable existence for all of humankind.

Dracula has been defeated many times, only to escape as his equally mystical castle crumbles in the distance, but during this particular reign of horror, he concealed his magnificent abode, nestling its entrance among four other distinct castles.  The particular one I’d like to talk about today is the Crystal Castle.  This castle, as its name suggests, was constructed almost entirely of crystal.  The crystal itself was not uniform; different types were used for different structures.  I happened to visit this castle on a stormy day, but I imagine that it could be nothing less than gorgeous when the sun shines through its translucent pillars.

As I began, I noticed several open structures in the distance that had columns, rather than walls, and pointed roofs.  They sat majestically atop tall hills, and there were many freestanding columns among them; possibly towers of some sort.  Before me, there were several monster head statues along the ground, which had water running from one mouth to the other.  The water was waist-deep, and the current was quite strong.  There were many crystal columns with gargoyle busts adorning their crowns along the way.  I had to make my way across several crystalline ledges – some of which were too fragile to support me – in order to make it to the rope at the end.  I climbed the rope, bringing me inside to a room with large crystal mirrors adorning the walls.  I made my way to the top of this room, and entered the door at the end.

Emerging outside once again, I made my way along more crystalline ledges high above a sparkling lake.  The lake itself seemed bottomless, and was inhabited by strange, anthropomorphic fish creatures.  Careful not to fall, thus staining the clear waters below with my blood, I made my way across, climbing the nearby rope to another interior area.  What I found was a long shaft lined with crystalline spires that pointed right at me.  The walls they lined would thrust forth, then retract, making it a precarious slide down the ropes lining this vertical corridor.  Reaching the bottom, I breathed a sigh of relief, and entered the door.

At this point, the path diverged vertically, so I surveyed my options: up or down?  I’d heard tales of the lower path containing a large lizard-like being equipped with throwing knives and fast moving streams containing horrible mutant frogs and leading to a very deadly plunge.  With this in mind, I decided to climb up, which led me to the tops of several crystal pillars.  It was a long way down, but the winds weren’t strong enough to impede my progress, and the worst creatures I encountered were some large bats, which were more of a nuisance than a threat.  I headed down at the end, through a hall with a strange crystal marquee, then through the door at the room where the two paths converged.  Outside again, I progressed a bit to what seemed to be a large floating site of what I can only imagine has some sort of religious or mystical significance, though I was unable to discern any specifics.

Of the four castles, I found this one to be the most beautiful.  It is one of several places I have visited to make me appreciate the gray aesthetics of a cloudy day, at times even more than I enjoy the sun.  Sure, Rock Castle had some neat drawings upon its ancient walls, Plant Castle was pretty with all of its twisted vines, and Cloud Castle had a tremendous view, but Crystal Castle is one of those rare structures that actually succeeds in demonstrating the beauty in extravagance.  I’ve seen so many dismissals of natural or rustic charm in favor of an ugly decor, just because it is expensive.  It may seem intuitive, but true beauty is something that goes beyond an item’s monetary worth.

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