the artistry and psychology of gaming


Green Hill Zone (HyperX)

Green Hill Zone (HyperX)

There is a mysterious landmass somewhere out there that has sentient animals among the others.  No one knows for sure how they came to be, but they are far from the only special creatures living there; even the local avians have a mild capacity for temporal distortion.  In this land, nature and technology collide, leaving long stretches of open country outside of high-tech facilities.  There have even been those who have used the apparently intelligent woodland creatures to pilot machines.  The rolling hills, however, are perhaps the greatest wonder of all.

The Green Hill Zone is one of several hilly areas with one of the most unusual configurations I’ve ever seen.  It looks less like an open plain and more like a natural roller coaster.  There are long stretches that go downhill, with the upward inclines much further down the line, by which point anyone wishing to travel quickly would have reached an incredible velocity, causing minimal deceleration.  Adding to the chaos, there are flips, jumps, and loops put in everywhere, along with powerful springboards that can launch anyone into the sky and come in two varieties: red and yellow.  Of the two, the red are more powerful by far.  I’ve been told that the sentient animals love to race through here, and as far as I can tell, the formations are completely natural, aside from the springboards, of course.  As dangerous as it is, this area is unparalleled in enjoyment for those who love traveling at breakneck speeds.

Long after my time there, I had a dream that Green Hill Zone wasn’t quite so green, but an indescribable combination of gold and flaming orange.  The brown checkerboard dirt wasn’t colored any differently, but the blazing grass and palm fronds gave it the illusion of being a lighter color.  The stems and leaves of the large flowers were this color as well, and their purple petals stretched and spun in the sunlight just as ardently as ever.  The golden, spinning rings were much more yellow, which met the new aesthetic quite well.  Even the totem poles’ faces had adopted this new palette.

I headed forth, running as fast as I could, while still taking in the scenery, much more attentively than usual.  I noticed – possibly for the first time – a plant that resembled the agave, except crystalline and, of course, flaming orange.  The first one that I noticed was near some levitating chunks of ground – complete with grass on top – that floated up and down, providing transportation to the higher levels of the hills.  I stopped when I reached a rope bridge to admire the massive body of water all around, as well as the shimmering waterfall in the distance.  Further out, there were lots of mountains, which cryptically seemed to have no vegetation.  Noticing this for the first time, I realized that I’d never been out that way.  After a moment, I continued down the track.

Eventually, I reached a solid wall with a yellow spring in front of it.  I leapt upon the spring, which sent me skyward.  I landed upon a land spur, which began to crumble beneath me, so I quickly dove into a tunnel.  I entered a bit too hastily, which caused me to tumble down a long, winding shaft, and when I emerged, I was still rolling much faster than I’d have liked, but was laughing hysterically nonetheless, much as when my pet shoved me down a flight of stairs for her own amusement.  I was fortunate enough not to have crashed into a wall and broken my neck.  I mischeivous spark caught fire in my mind, and I’d decided to run full tilt through this area.

Through the land I ran as fast as I could; my silver hair whipping about in the gale force winds created by my speed.  It was such a thrill, almost as though I were flying, despite remaining earthbound.  A massive loop unfolded before me, and I’d decided to charge right into it.  Just before colliding with the sharp vertical slope, I had one of those “what am I doing!?” moments; if you’ve ever taken someone up on a dare as a child, then you know exactly what I mean.  I hit the wall, ran up it, along the ceiling, and down and around the other side; the feeling was incredible.  I kept screaming through the plains, laughing as I went, but suddenly, I had to stop; there was a massive waterfall right in front of me!  I was too late; as my heels rent hunks of grass and sod from their resting place, I slid ever closer to the powerful cascade, eventually crashing right into it.  Standing up, soaked to the bone, I’d realized that it was time to slow down.

Having had my fun, I moved on – a bit more carefully now, no matter how tempting it was to give my hair a natural blow-drying – until I encountered a large boulder.  I’d seen dozens of these when I was awake, but their shimmering periwinkle color was so much easier to notice now in contrast to the golden orange all about.  Just on the other side, there was a caramel-colored orb floating in the air.  Attached to it were several links of chain to which a platform made of a few planks, which swung back and forth like a pendulum, was attached.  I leapt upon it, riding it to the other side; having learned a valuable lesson when I was very young, I quickly leapt to solid ground to avoid motion sickness.

After a time, I reached a solid wall that had a strange appearance to it.  I had the option of using springs to ascend the cliffs, but I knew another way.  I attacked the wall, smashing through the softer dirt and creating a tunnel to the other side.  I tumbled through another small tunnel, which spat me across a chasm with sharp spikes at the bottom.  As I rolled forth, I panicked and dug my heels into the ground, successfully this time.  I’d stopped just before touching a red spring, which would’ve thrown me backward to my grizzly death.  As I pushed on, I passed a lamppost, the head of which spun and turned from blue to red as I passed, and I ran at a consistent speed to keep safe from the next obstacle: a long, rotating pole with thorns in a spiral pattern.  The trick is to run inside of the curve in order to avoid stepping upon the sharp spines.  Soon afterwards, I reached two small floating platforms in an open area.  I climbed onto one, sat down, and admired the view as it gradually faded in my waking moments.

Sometimes, we have much more courage in dreams than we do when we’re awake.  It’s that dulled sense of inhibition and the unfiltered wild thoughts bombarding it that make even the most suicidal of stunts seem like a good idea.  These are not necessarily bad ideas, however; they allow us to experiment with things we ordinarily would not in a relatively consequence free environment.  These might lead to new explorations within our own mind or even translate to new-found valor in real life.  The irony, of course, is that doing so when you’re aware that it’s a dream causes no such revelation; when you’re aware of your situation, then you have control over the details, potentially changing the results of your actions.  Paradoxically, it is the illusion that teaches the most real of our lessons.

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