the artistry and psychology of gaming


Forest Maze (Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars)

Forest Maze (Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars)

The Mushroom Kingdom has many wonders surrounding its borders, one of which is an area oddly known as Pond to Pipes.  While it sounds more like a description than a region, it is no less a place of wonder.  It has a unique array of features, including a waterfall, which spills into a lake, a path that has as many deciduous trees as it does palm trees, a tropical island off the coast, and a thick, labyrinthine forest.  At the edge of this forest is a village called Rose Town, and its residents enjoy the quiet of a small backwoods village, not unlike where I grew up.  It is a great place to be a child, because right in their own backyard is the greatest adventure a kid could want.

The Forest Maze is exactly what it says: a labyrinthine path through the woods.  I’ve seen many forests in my time, both similar to those in our world, and completely surreal, but this is my absolute favorite of them all.  Like Booster Tower, I first heard about it from another adventurer; a young man older than myself, whom I greatly admired.  Seeing those faded old pictures from his time there caused me to dream about visiting its dark, verdant corridors.  What I found there was far greater than I had imagined.

I first walked into a small clearing.  The dirt path was bordered by fan-like shrubs with giant leaves.  Many trees stood tall, and bore fruit that I’d seen in Dinosaur Land, a neighbor to the Mushroom Kingdom.  They were red and orange, and fairly round; yoshis like to eat them.  Moving a bit further, I reached a dead end with a hollowed-out tree stump.  A wiggler, which is a long, yellow, segmented caterpillar of sorts, emerged from the hole in the stump, crawled around a bit, and went right back down in.  Following the massive creature, I found myself in an underground area.

Down here were bushes from which mushrooms grew.  These mushrooms were red with yellow-beige spots; they were the type of mushroom most famous in the Mushroom Kingdom.  Most of them were unripe, but a few, which were more pinkish in color, were ready for the picking.  Unfortunately, while some were edible, others would get up and charge toward me in a surprise attack; these are known as Amanita.  Making my way through the underground passage, I made my way back to the surface at the other end.  Near here was a long clearing with seven hollowed out tree stumps, each of which led to an underground area; these were clearly wigglers’ dens.  A bit further back was another that led to a longer underground tunnel.

This tunnel had quite a few mushroom bushes, and even an area with a large crevasse in the center.  It is difficult to describe in words, but there was something particularly picturesque about this tunnel.  At the end, I returned to the surface, and entered the most confusing part of the Forest Maze: a series of interconnected clearings that have an unusual configuration.  There must be some sort of witchery going on in this area, because I could swear that some of the paths link to themselves in a giant loop, and that going southwest always took me out of it.  I stumbled upon a secret area in here; after wandering through this maze completely lost for quite some time, I came to a dead end with a hollowed-out stump; sunlight shone down upon it.  In here was a wonderful little den filled with treasures, which I left behind.  Eventually, I made my way through the maze, and into a clearing with 6 stumps, each of which had nothing beneath it, and a path which led out of the forest.

A forest is a mystery, and as such, it is very easy to get lost in one, unless you are well versed in their navigation.  I remember the first time I decided to explore the woods in my village as a youth.  It was as exciting to explore new territory as it was terrifying that I might get lost.  Still, my sense of wonder propelled me forward, and as I went, I discovered that distinguishing landmarks made navigation quite easy.  I spent so much time there that it became much like my own backyard.  To this day, I still enjoy the same sense of wonder almost every time I explore a new forest; their foreign familiarity is something that has never failed to intrigue me.

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