the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Magicant (Earthbound)

Magicant (Earthbound)

I’ve explored ancient worlds with massive towers, majestic castles, and mysterious pyramids.  I’ve delved into worlds that were very futuristic, having interstellar travel and high-tech facilities.  I’ve traversed worlds completely without native sentient lifeforms; worlds of sprawling deserts, exotic forests, and deep subterranean caverns with diverse ecology.  I’ve visited worlds too bizarre to even fathom; indescribable locales that take everything you know about nature and turn it completely on its head.  Every now and again, though, I end up somewhere completely mundane, but no less special.

The cozy little Eagleland is a very humble world; it’s not all that different from our own, aside from being mostly suburban.  Even the largest city, Fourside, isn’t that overwhelming or all that urban; it’s like the romantic ideal of a big city.  It’s really a lovely world to visit; aside from an alien invasion, their problems are relatively few.  Eagleland hides a secret, however: a small world lives inside of a young man named Ness.  I was fortunate enough to be able to travel into his mind and explore this beautiful wonderland.

Upon my arrival, I came to learn that, like another dream-like world I’d explored, this place was called Magicant.  There were no pink clouds here, however; it was a completely different place.  I landed in an area with green grass, conical checkerboard trees, and gigantic vegetables growing from the ground.  Looking down, I noticed that I was only wearing my silk nightgown and a pair of socks; evidently, this world places you in your sleepwear.  All around, there was a sea of purple zigzags, and occasionally, one could see twinkling stars.  There were green buildings like the skyscrapers in Fourside; in one, there was a telephone on a table and an ATM with a goofy face.  They weren’t real, though; they were just something that someone had drawn on the wall.  Despite this, they functioned completely normally.  Equally strange was the fact that grass and bushes grew inside these buildings.  I left and headed along a narrow path.

Halfway down this path, the grass turned to a pale yellow, and quite abruptly.  The giant vegetables were replaced by rocks the same color as the grass.  There were also snowmen and topless columns here, as well as ringed planets floating out over the sea.  I even noticed a house with no walls or ceiling; it was just a hardwood floor with some furniture.  After this, I found another path; this one passed a house with a layered conical roof and eventually went into a blood red desert.  I retreated to my point of entry, deciding to talk to some of the residents before moving on.  What I discovered was both shocking and beautiful.

In the green area, I came to another wall house without walls; I talked to the middle-aged woman – whose speech was surprisingly coherent for a place like this – on the sofa, and everything turned pink.  It was so pretty; I decided to talk to some of the other residents.  One turned the grass a deep purple with a neon green outline, which caused the large vegetation to turn completely black; it made the house look very special, and the wilderness turned white.  The next resident turned the world school bus yellow with black accents, but the division between areas remained; the second area was a lush green with a hint of blue, and the wilderness became a reverse contrast version of its original red.  The next one turned the world white, as thought it were snowy, and the zigzags became pink; the wilderness followed suit, but was peppered with pale yellow, almost making it look like a snow-covered desert.  Another change made all three areas uniform; it was a sickly brown and black with the zigzags turning black and dark blue, which was oddly beautiful.  The final coloration – because many of the residents have duplicate effects – was that of a soft orange, which turned the wilderness a pale green with some blue-green and purple accents.  At long last, I was ready to venture out.

The wilderness was nothing more than a long path with two branches, each leading to dead ends.  No matter what the color, the instability of this world caused the wilderness to revert to its original red before long.  Tall hills and bicolor planets speckled the landscape as I walked the narrow, gradual spiral.  When I reached the center, a strange curly tentacle – smooth, shiny, and gray – erupted from the ground.  Taking a cue from the way that I entered the other Magicant, I closed my eyes, touched the tentacle, and focused.

It felt like nothing was happening, so after a moment, I opened my eyes.  I was a bit shocked, having noticed the wild change in my surroundings.  I was in an area with tall brown grass surrounding an emerald area of unknown consistency.  It was then that I realized that I felt very wet; I looked down to see that I was neck-deep in water that pulsated from red to blue, and every color in between.  This had to be the Sea of Eden; it fit the description that had been given to me by one of Magicant’s denizens.  I could not go through the tall grass, so I followed the path, eventually encountering stalagmites.  These stalagmites were green with reddish-pink crystals, and they also pulsated with the sea.  Weaving around to avoid the bizarre sea monsters, I came to a dais of rock.  The it glowed along with the shining statue atop it.  Having nowhere else to go, I touched the statue on the forehead and focused.  I heard a deep voice in my mind, “This nightmare is not yours; you must go now.”  When I opened my eyes again, I was back in the physical world.

A journey into your own mind is a wondrous thing; when it manifests itself as an organized world, it becomes a place unlike any you’ve ever explored, and yet it is familiar.  Journeying into the mind of another is something else entirely; it is still unique, but you are no longer in familiar territory, even if you know the person very well.  There is absolutely no way you could ever know what connection anything has to the person’s thoughts, and that only adds to the mystery.  Best of all, you never know what parameters the world might have.  Will the colors change if I talk to someone?  If I sneeze, will the world change shape?  Will something seemingly innocuous that I do lead to an event that I could not possibly have fathomed without having first experienced it?  Just as I always say, the mind is the true final frontier; it is infinite in more ways than a mere three or four dimensions.

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