the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Dive Man (Mega Man 4)

Dive Man (Mega Man 4)

Visiting the futuristic world of robots always makes me feel like a child again.  It’s not only because I spent a lot of time there as a child, but also because of the incredible mystery before me.  Think of a warrior from the Dark Ages visiting our present time; the gap in technology is so incredible that even everyday objects to us would be a complete enigma to such a person.  It’s that feeling of visiting a world in which the only thing familiar to you is the sky above your head.  All of this from a world otherwise like our own…

It was my fourth trip there that led me to the area of which I’d like to tell you today.  This trip seemed like a new era to me; one that seemed a bit less friendly.  Exploration seemed more challenging, and the world itself seemed so much less kind.  It’s almost like the world itself was telling me that I was starting to grow up, even though I wasn’t quite ready for that.  Despite this, I clenched my teeth and began this new adventure.  Of the many locations to which this journey brought me, it was a hydroelectric facility that I remember the most.

I landed on what seemed like endless machinery made of a cyan metal with a greenish tint.  The mechanics were extremely complicated, though I recognized a few familiar parts, such as fans and vents.  They seemed to be for regulating water flow, but there were giant glass cylinders filled with a red and orange material that flickered, almost as though it were liquid flame.  Before me were green metal platforms with blue spheres in the middle, which may have been anti-gravity devices.  I dove into the blue waters below, beginning my sojourn in earnest.

There were jets of little bubbles hidden somewhere, though the bubbles themselves were plainly visible.  The “ground” below was a thick pipe made of the same greenish metal, though there was a glass hatch in it, which was filled with the liquid flame.  Two vaguely cylindrical machines jutted out from this pipe as I swam along it.  As I progressed, I saw a longer glass hatch, though this one seemed to be empty; it was between two of the glass cylinders filled with liquid flame, and underneath some yellow spheres covered in deadly spikes.  It was then that it hit me: those hatches were actually windows to see what was in the pipes, which seemed to be used for sending the liquid flame to different locations.

I eventually swam to a wall, though there was a narrow space between it and the pipe.  I slid myself through it, my claustrophobia – something I hadn’t yet overcome at the time – making it seem much longer than it really was.  On this side, the water was much higher, but since the water pressure wasn’t bothering me, I stayed low.  After a long stretch of water and machinery, I came to an open area.  In here was a large mechanical whale, which was no doubt some sort of security measure.  Despite its size and angry expression, it wasn’t terribly intimidating due to its relative immobility, so I slipped underneath it and continued on, breathing a sigh of relief once I’d passed.  I eventually came to a vertical pipe with a ladder along it.  I climbed the ladder and, much to my surprise, I was out of the water.

As it turns out, the metal was more of a slime green color; the water had given it a more bluish tint.  On this warm, sunny day, I checked to make sure that no one else was around, stripped down to my skivvies, and hung my clothes on the ladders to dry out before moving on.  While I waited, I noticed two glass sections of the vertical pipe; they were filled by a sparkling blue liquid, not too much darker than the water.  It was then that I began to wonder what the pipes were actually transporting and whether this might bejust a cooling station for the liquid flame.  Perhaps it was even used to heat this water and operate the turbines, generating power.  Whatever the case, once I’d gotten dressed, I climbed up a bit further and headed along the top, noticing more glass sections of pipe with the same blue liquid.  Some even had valves on them, though they looked to be difficult to reach or operate.  After a short walk in the sun, I had no choice but to dive back in.

I swam a bit further, and when I’d passed a second robotic whale, I noticed a subtle split in the path.  Instead of swimming onward, I’d decided to go down the shaft before me.  More yellow spiny orbs lined the entirety of the path downward, which was framed by thick cables held in place by chains.  The further down I went, the darker the water around me became.  I eventually reached the bottom, but nothing was there, so I planted my feet on the cable and pushed off, rocketing myself back to the surface.  I dove back under and swam forward.

I entered the strangest area of all; the water level was constantly rising and falling.  Now, with mechanical regulators, this is a simple task, but nothing separated it from the areas that maintained a constant water level.  On the surface floated more green metal platforms, but on the underside were golden spiny orbs and on the top were silvery-blue ones.  While this may seem like only a deterrent to traversing said platforms, it also became a hazard as the water level receded and they came crashing down toward you.  Couple that with the red mines floating in the water, and the swim becomes quite dangerous.  I finally reached a gate, which I entered.  The inside looked like the hull of a submarine clad in purple metal complete with portholes.  For the first time since I’d reentered the water, the glass showed liquid flame, and when I entered the control chamber, it was much the same.  In here were shutters in addition to portholes.

Water is an interesting thing when you stop to think about it.  It has no consciousness or intended purpose, and yet it is so versatile.  Aside from being a place for marine life to live and a beverage for all land-faring creatures, it has also been used in a number of technological advancements.  It is a great insulator, its movement and weight can be used to generate electricity, and its presence in almost everything edible allows us to cook food with microwaves.  I sometimes muse at what water would think of all of this were it sentient, but it just goes about its business without any awareness whatsoever.

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