the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Maridia (Super Metroid)

Maridia (Super Metroid)

There once was a strange world by the name of Zebes. Despite all of its life forms, it seemed to be a desolate place, since none of its natives were sentient. In fact, many would act as though you weren’t even there, making them seem like moving parts of scenery. It was a world found to be very attractive for a group of space pirates and their leader, The Mother Brain. The strangest thing about Zebes is that most of its features and life forms lived beneath the surface, and even though most of its biomes were subterranean, they were rather diverse. There were caverns, jungles, and volcanic areas along with high technological areas, likely built by either the Space Pirates or the Chozo, an ancient species that had lived many places across the galaxy. There was one area of Zebes that always stuck out to me, though: the underwater paradise of Maridia.

Maridia was almost completely submerged in the clearest of waters, but being underground, it was also a dark place. To this day, I have dreams of swimming through clear, black water, likely because of my time there. Maridia is also enormous, so between the labyrinthine underwater caverns and the darkness, it is very easy for one to get lost. Combined with the sense of isolation and great danger of some of its areas, Maridia can be a terrifying place, especially for a young man or woman, but perhaps that fear is what keeps calling me back, challenging me to revisit what I saw.

As you enter Maridia, it’s very dark, as I’ve mentioned, but you can still make out the faint green of the rock and some of the aquatic plant life. There also appears to be some sort of ruins further back. What little can be seen looks like a series of brown obelisks. The first main room is a very long vertical climb, but a path along the bottom leads to a special area with platforms of a strange, light purple material, and sand cascading in from the rock ceiling. The sand collects at the bottom and you might sink into it, if you’re not careful. At the end, there is a vertical tunnel of rock, eventually leading to a wall of sand. If you reach the other side of this wall, you’ll find a system of narrow rock tunnels, leading to a small bunker with a statue of a sitting Chozo.

Should you decide to climb the long vertical tunnel near the entrance, however, you’ll be led to a large, open room much like it. It’s easy to lose track of time and space floating about in this chamber for hours on end. If you make it through this chamber, you’ll enter another large, vertical area, this time made of the strange light purple material mentioned earlier. Heading up through the hatch at the top leads to a wondrous sandy area with strange moss hanging from the ceiling. This is one of the few areas of Maridia in which it is possible to exit the water. There’s a cavern of sand further on, and it eventually terminates in a small chamber made of the aforementioned material.

Going down instead will lead to a large chamber also comprised of the strange, purple material, all suspended above a layer of sand. Descending into the sand exposes an adventurer to softer sand, into which, he or she will sink, pulling the helpless body into a small, dark sand chamber with a maze-like structure. Sinking any further will bring one right back to the area that features the sand cascades, explaining their origin. The purple chamber itself has many points onto which one can grapple, making it a fitness center of sorts, where one can practice acrobatics. The extra buoyancy provided by the water makes it much safer than doing so on land. Traveling further brings one to a similar chamber, but with a soft sand bottom. The area is much more open, too, so perhaps it was used for advanced aerial training at one time. Further below is what appears to have been a large warehouse, containing many unopened crates.

Maridia has one final area; one that is difficult to access, but can be reached by a long transport tube found in the middle of the cascading sand area. It’s comprised entirely of sand and the strange, hanging moss, and features some areas that are above the water. At the top, there is a passage that leads to a darker area containing another Chozo statue. There is definitely an unusual feeling in there brought on by a mysterious aura of indeterminate origin. Perhaps, the ghosts of the Chozo still haunt the area. The rest of the area has some unique features, such as a small island that floats atop the water. Across from said island, there is a tunnel containing strange pillars of vegetation, which are both short and sturdy enough to stand upon. Following this path will eventually lead to the planet’s surface.

There’s a unique beauty to Maridia that I’ve not found elsewhere. To most, the idea of being wet and caked in sand, while wandering through a dark, desolate area might seem far from preferable, but to this day, it offers me a feeling of familiar comfort that I cannot explain. There’s also a feeling of being lost, as well as that of isolation. It is terrifying to many, but if you release your fear, the experience has a level of tranquility that is difficult to reach elsewhere. If you stop caring about getting lost or the time that passes by, you’ll be able to reach a very deep part of your mind, which, after all, is the true final frontier due to its infiniteness. This, even more than the scenery is what makes Maridia so beautiful. It’s not something that can be fully conveyed with imagery; you have to experience it yourself. It’s just a shame that Zebes was completely destroyed in an explosion all those years ago. All that remains of it are the memories of its explorers.

2 Comments

  1. I like the idea of this post as one of the awesomest thing about video games is the exploring, and a video game travelogue makes total sense for those who couldn’t be there. I think it would work better for a game with 3-D graphics, though.

    • I’m glad you like my feature; I’ve long desired to share the many wonderful worlds within video games, but never really found an appropriate medium by which to do so until now.

      I’ve tried a few 3D games with mixed success. You can expect to see a few more of them once I find a decent capture device.

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