the artistry and psychology of gaming


Mushroom Kingdom (Super Mario Bros. Rebirth)

Mushroom Kingdom (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.

Nearly every single part of this dream was nothing short of a wonder, but to tell it all now would take far longer than we’ve afforded ourselves, so I’ll relegate this particular tale to a small fraction of the full experience, saving the rest for another day.  The first part I wish to tell is the first of the eight worlds, in this dream known simply as the Mushroom Kingdom.  This seems like a strange amalgamation of the entire adventure in the real world, almost as though each of the areas were slammed together.  Each of the four sections are quite different, as well.

The first section begins much like the original adventure did, except that the color was different.  Hills were draped in scarlet, and shrubs were of a burning orange.  It appeared to be late afternoon in the plains, and that’s just how it began.  Progressing, I saw enormous flat orange mushrooms with red spots erupting from the ground.  I’d seen these in the real world, but they stood like mountains, rising from the ground below, whereas these stood a short distance off the ground, emerging from the solid stone of the paved roads.  It was surreal to see them in such a way, but stranger still was how abruptly the road ended; a small, but deep, body of water, rose higher than the road, yet stayed there, as though some invisible dam held back the flood.  Further on, I encountered some of the iconic pipes, but these were also cast in red and orange, a color in which I’d never seen them before.  Further still, a pipe of this nature rose high from the center of a deep body of water.  Down one of the many pipes here, I found an underground area with a springboard used for reaching the shimmering treasure above.  Eventually, I reached the fortress and moved on to the next section.

This section, rather than being the underground area that so many adventurers remember so well, was underwater.  The black skies above allowed for a beautiful contrast against the blue waters, green stone, and even large, flat, orange mushrooms with red spots.  Indeed, the mushrooms were now also found in these unfathomable depths, though their stems were green with algae.  The coral was now black and orange, with a strange red area around it in the water.  It was almost as though someone had drawn a red rectangle around it and filled it in.  Seeing such a thing is almost unimaginable because it is so far removed from the laws of reality, and yet, there it was, indescribable to those who’ve never seen it.  This underwater garden of gigantic mushrooms and psychedelic coral also contained long bars of fire.  Now, I’d seen bars of fire underwater in Bowser’s castle before, so they weren’t that unusual to me, but here, they were so beautiful, likely due to the aforementioned contrast against the sky.  Believe it or not, the warp zone was also present, and looked very strange in this new context.  I instead opted to return to the surface.

The third section was one of floating bridges above water.  The slight hue of gray in the blue sky above reminded me of a lovely day at the harbor.  Of course, the harbor I used to visit as a child didn’t have gigantic, murderous fish leaping out of the water or anti-gravity bridges, but the atmosphere was much the same.  A few springboards also floated in the air, adding to the chaos even further.  In between a stone wall and a tall green pipe was one of the tree-like platforms found in the real world equivalent, but it was very short.  Further along, there was a set of girders attached to a pulley, and beyond that was a solid stone road with a bridge cryptically floating above it.  Ascending the stairs near the castle, I noticed that the middle was missing and the void filled with water.  I entered the castle, only to be surprised yet again.

There were pale gray and white bridges floating above the lava within.  It might not sound like anything special, but truly, this was a marvelous sight.  There was also a solid stone bridge, which would otherwise have been just a floor, but there was a small alcove underneath it, which was filled halfway with lava.  The chaos continued as I encountered bridges attached to pipes with bars of fire spinning above them.  Once I reached the drawbridge that held the false Bowser, though, everything normalized for a short while.  After rescuing the Mushroom Retainer, things became strange again, but that’s a story for another time.

Sometimes, a dream is so vivid that it seems real.  You might even remember this dream years later, and the familiarity of its having run through your mind several times may even lead you to believe it to be an actual memory.  I certainly have this problem; some of my memories are merely dreams that never could have been.  Then again, who’s to say that these aren’t real, just because they aren’t physical manifestations.  We have the power to create worlds, whether or not anyone else will ever be able to experience them; such a gift should not be denied.

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