the artistry and psychology of gaming


Dangerous Dinner (Kirby’s Return to Dream Land)

Dangerous Dinner (Kirby’s Return to Dream Land)

Dream Land is a curious place; one would think it to mean the land where dreams reside, but this is not the case.  It is simply the name of a nation of yet another world among the stars.  The world in question is Popstar, which appears to be a yellow, star-shaped moon from outer space, but is revealed to be very ecologically diverse upon closer inspection.  It is a wonderful place to begin as an adventurer; there are dangers to be had, but very little is extremely life-threatening.  You can have very fulfilling adventures there even early into your career, and there are some puzzles that will truly challenge even veteran explorers.  I’ve been there a great many times, but during one of my adventures in Dream Land, I strayed a bit from the planet and wound up somewhere else entirely: a planet called Halcandra.

Halcandra is a very foreboding place; a veritable nightmare to some.  It’s a bit more dangerous than Popstar, and one can see that without even looking too closely.  The two sections that I visited are the strangely food-themed regions known as Egg Engines and Dangerous Dinner.  Egg Engines is a heartless factory area filled with cold steel machines that could easily spell one’s doom with a single misstep.  Dangerous Dinner is the region around the large active volcano, which is surrounded by a slew of other active volcanoes.  As far as atypical volcanic wastelands are concerned, it is beyond compare.

While most volcanic regions are mainly orange and black with some reds and dark browns, Dangerous Dinner is filled with a beautiful, red-orange-tinted rainbow of colors, providing some much needed visual diversity.  When I entered, the path before me was laid out in stones of red, blue, purple, cyan, and yellow, and was dotted with small white flowers that bloomed hot pink when touched.  Deep purple lava cooled in the distance, along with mountains that resembled the jagged trees in a spooky forest, some of which were active volcanoes.  The skies above were purple with pink clouds drifting through them.  Magma pillars shot high and violently into the sky, and several large rocks resembling old sea mines were found scattered about.  I was completely in awe and I hadn’t even truly begun my journey.

Pools of red lava littered my path as I traveled on, some of which had crimson lava geysers periodically erupting from them.  Giant hexagonal rings of rock floated high in the sky above me.  I eventually came to a bridge made of brown, purple, and red material; I could not tell whether it was stone or some type of wood.  The shape would suggest wood, but the fact that it did not burst into flames in these extreme temperatures suggests stone.  Along some of the bridges were more of the hexagonal rock rings, this time grouped closely together like some sort of volcanic honeycomb.  I was beginning to get used to the burning horror around me, or so I’d thought; unexpectedly, a massive eel of volcanic rock leapt out of the lava and tried to devour me.  Once my heart started beating again, I carefully made my way past its dwelling and continued to another area of Dangerous Dinner.

This next area looked like some sort of space expedition.  The skies were deep blue and purple, and the rock beneath me was geometric, giving it a Space Age appearance.  Massive, jagged rainbow crystals erupted from the ground, bringing lava with them.  In the distance were volcanic spheres, spinning enough to give them the appearance of cooling protoplanets, the largest of which had a powerful pink glow.  Thin tendrils of a yellowish gas twisted around stalactites and toward the large spheres.  This area was markedly more dangerous than the last, because it had gigantic balls of burning magma both falling from the sky and bobbing up and down as though caught in some odd gravitational pull.  Walls of solid purple rock rose in the distance, some of which had brightly colored geometric designs upon them.  Further on were platforms and ladders that were little more than squiggles; the ladders were only purple, but the platforms had light green edges to them. At the end of it was an elaborate, golden, winged door with a rainbow glow.

As an adventurer – particularly one interested in aesthetics – you sometimes get into a rut.  Some areas become so typical that you tire of seeing them.  In many cases, this is because there is little difference between most of them; grasslands are all usually very similar, as are many other biomes.  You get to noticing the little quirks that set them apart, becoming very attuned to detail.  Once you get into such a mode, it just has so much greater an impact when an area comes along in the same category that turns so many conventions right on their heads; it is a beauteous moment for which every adventurer longs.

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