the artistry and psychology of gaming


Ice Land (Super Mario Bros. Rebirth)

Ice Land (Super Mario Bros. Rebirth)

I believe that the number of dreams I’ve had of the Mushroom Kingdom is second only to the number of dreams that I’ve had of the futuristic world of robots.  It is hard to say which I like better, but the dreams of the Mushroom Kingdom are usually far more surreal.  I suppose that might be because the Mushroom Kingdom is such a bizarre realm, but it is certainly not for me to attempt to understand dreams, especially mine.  This particular dream was a bit different from many of the others, however.  While most dreams use the source of their inspiration as a mere shell to provide a new experience, this one seemed almost as familiar as the memory itself.

I’ve talked about this dream before; we’ve already explored the Mushroom Kingdom and the Battlefield together.  Today, I’d like to continue on, talking about the next world: Ice Land.  I’ve seen wintry worlds in this part of the Mushroom Kindgom in the liminal world before, but this was different.  There were things here that I had never seen in a frozen context before, and when I awoke, I’d wondered how I could know what they’d look like.  These subtle twists are what made this area so special, despite being otherwise quite mundane.

I began under open skies of pale blue with a few clouds overhead; fairly standard for the Mushroom Kingdom.  Beneath me was the same stone road and silvery pipes to which I’d become accustomed.  What I’d never seen before, though, was foliage in a wintry area such as this.  There were bushes covered in snow, which made them look like clouds that had fallen and lost their luster.  The hills in the distance were the most intriguing; the frost had painted their grass a dark gray color.  I wish that I could have explored them, but unfortunately, the dream did not take me there.

Traveling a bit further, I encountered the tall, flat trees that I’d often traversed, but these were covered in snow; I’d never seen them like this before, at least not with brown trunks.  The leaves crunched beneath me as I ran across the treetops – a significant change from the sound of rustling – until they ended abruptly at another brick road.  Further still, there were a few small trees above a chasm, which really stuck out to me for some reason.  The terrain soon became a bit more complicated due to the inclusion of springboards, which were used to reach more treetops.  Within these treetops, I found a cluster of many different types of floating blocks.  I’ve seen plenty of floating block formations in my time, but these were so tightly grouped that I had difficulty getting through them.  Soon, I managed to reach my goal: a solitary fortress.

The second stretch was a long, flat road covered with adversaries.  For most of the journey, there was nothing really out of the ordinary, and between that and the relatively obstacle-free terrain, I was able to travel very quickly.  There were a few small, snow-covered plants, and a number of fences, but nothing that I’d not seen outside of this dream before.  Despite that, it was still very picturesque, though I did not quite realize it until reflecting upon it later.  Near the end, I found something that was out of the ordinary: a floating bridge near a vertical line, along which girders traveled.  I had seen this in castles before, where there is a ceiling to which it can be attached, but never under an open sky.  After making my way through, I reached the second fortress, and took a brief respite.

The third section was nothing out of the ordinary; it was very similar to the third section of World 6 in the physical Mushroom Kingdom, complete with night sky, reddish clouds, and gray, frost-covered landscape.  The inside of the castle itself, however, was quite a sight to behold.  This was an open-air castle; one could see cloudless skies for miles around.  Not far inside, I found a lava pit, but this one had a stone bridge over it; the true danger came from the leaping balls of fire that came from it.  Over this bridge were also bars of chained fireballs, which rotated endlessly; their tight grouping made it very difficult to make it through unscathed.  Much of the rest of the castle was above a deep chasm, so I had to make a lot of flying leaps, sometimes landing upon blocks with the spinning bars of fire attached to them.  After a high-speed marathon of flying leaps, I came to  the drawbridge at last.  There was no lava beneath the bridge, which I found strange, but as always, this bridge meant the end of my journey in this world.

Anything that your mind can conceive is possible in your dreams.  Your brain can take elements from two different things, including landscapes, and combine them, making a very believable landscape, despite its lack of tangibility.  In my early childhood, I had a dream that combined my grandmother’s yard with a frostbitten version of my own yard, littered with reddish plant detritus from the end of my street, and it still remains a very vivid memory to me, even today.  It is because our brains absorb more information than we consciously realize; it breaks the world down and anayzes it, almost as if reading code from a computer program.  This understanding can then be used to combine elements in a way that seems plausible.  The queestion remains, however: is our world structured like a computer program, or are our brains merely structured as such, and can therefore only process information in such a way?

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