the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Door 3 (Castle of Illusion)

Door 3 (Castle of Illusion)

Out in a remote mountain range lies a beautiful castle.  It is a bit cliché, perhaps, but this secluded edifice is home to a good-hearted witch, corrupted by forces beyond her control. Bitter with the society that rejected her, she created this place in the hopes that no one would be able to find his or her way deep enough into it to harass her.  The castle itself features many doors, each of which lead to what appear to be other worlds, but are, in fact, empty rooms with obstacles set within them.  The illusions are said to have been created by powerful magic.  While the illusions are actually created by gems that act half as mind control devices, and half as projectors of sorts, the fact remains that the powerful illusions of this castle are the origin of its name.

While there are many whimsical worlds beyond the doors within this castle, my favorite remains the third that I encountered.  This illusion created by a yellow gem is hard to describe, as parts are non-descript, and the area as a whole lacks cohesion.  The second half of this world takes place in a temple bearing a strong resemblance to something the Aztecs would have built.  The spectacular sunset, of course, took place outside of this temple in the aforementioned non-descript first half.  While this area has no name, and is not the first grassy area I encountered in this castle, it is a unique world all its own.

To merely enter this door is to be ravished by a wondrous palette of bold colors.  The rocks beneath you are a simple gray, topped with grass of a light green-blue.  There are black rock tunnels ahead, some of which are flooded by swiftly-moving waters of a sky blue, even at dusk.  The true visual spectacle, however, is the burning sky above; while a simple pale orange, it is undercoated by a thick cloud cover painted in glorious shades of golden orange, vermillion, dark gray, and varying shades of purple, and the sky below it ranges from the color of the grass to a much darker shade thereof.

While I do not usually refer to the denizens of an area I’ve explored, in this particular instance, they serve only to enhance its beauty.  The first species I encountered is a sort of anthropomorphic mushroom.  I’d experienced variations of these in the first door I encountered; one was a red capped mushroom, whereas the other was a pale blue, ghostly variety.  These, however, had a pale purple stem, a deep purple cap, and a pulsating, luminescent glow that perfectly complemented the dark clouds and the skies above, tying the whole image together.  The other, more juxtaposed species was that of a red fish with a skeletal body.  While its face and coloration clashed a bit with the scenery, the macabre nature of its being accentuated the almost terrifying skies.

Traversing this area is quite an undertaking.  One must cross crumbling bridges, leap over large gaps, and find the proper tunnel leading to the exit.  Falling into a gap means landing in an underground lake, which drains into a flooded passageway with a powerful current that pulls you though and erupts somewhere else on the surface.  In order to reach the exit, you must enter the proper passage, which is in a less than intuitive location.  The lakes themselves are filled with aggressive fish, which are difficult to battle in their own environment, and even trickier to avoid in the strong currents.  The feeling, however, when you emerge near that wooden sign stating the close proximity of the exit is nothing short of triumphant, especially when the waterway launches you into that seething sky.

I once visited a tropical beach, where I witnessed a rare phenomenon.  There was a strange cloud cover that, rather than blocking the sun, eclipsed it only partially.  The result was an ocean bathed in perpetual twilight.  Part of what makes a sunset special is its fleeting nature, but such a thing makes it impossible to truly know it.  However, to bathe in its shaded light for hours on end creates a magnificent dream-like experience unlike any other.  It may seem indulgent to the point of ruining the wonder behind this daily spectacle, but it was the first time I felt that I had been given enough time to truly appreciate something so mysterious, yet so common, even if it happened to be a mere simulation.  To experience this brings an even greater appreciation for any other day’s end you might encounter.

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