the artistry and psychology of gaming


Norfair (Metroid)

Norfair (Metroid)

I’ve spent a great deal of time on the planet, Zebes, over many trips.  Never will I forget my first trip, though; I became so hopelessly lost in its inner recesses that I couldn’t find my way out. I became incredibly frustrated, panicked, and blacked out; I was so young.  When I awoke, I was at home in my basement with no idea of how I’d gotten back.  I’d vowed never to return, though that idea was dashed to bits when I’d returned a few years later, having heard rumors of incredible wonders of all kinds.  Of course, the subterrane was a great deal darker during my first trip, so disorientation was much easier, though the objects within it were much brighter and more colorful, creating a gorgeous contrast between the bright colors and the never-ending blackness, not unlike a black velvet painting, and I’ve always loved that aesthetic.

Though only two areas were accessible to me during this first trip, they were both shadowy wonderlands of color.  By far, the more beautiful of the two was Norfair.  Norfair has two basic levels, one deeper within the planet than the other.  Not only is Norfair more alien in appearance than Brinstar, but the powerful red base of this fiery pit provides such a beautiful dichotomy with the obscure caverns that likely run down to the planet’s very core; it stands out a great deal more than Brinstar’s heavy blues.  While I’m not usually a fan of the aesthetic of a fiery region, this was anything but the typical reds and oranges.

When I first reached the bottom of the elevator shaft leading to Norfair, I was in a dark area comprised of purple bubbles, which were solid enough to walk upon.  Some were clusters of small bubbles, some were large bubbles, and others were opaque clusters.  The stalactites were long drips with bubbles at their end.  They were quite obviously of sturdier construction than the bubbles to which I am accustomed; I could only guess at their chemical composition.  On either side of me was a bright magenta statue of a strange, Cyclops-like creature with yellow-orange accents.  They, along with the elevator platform, stood atop gray blocks with quadrilateral spirals engraved into them.  At the bottom of this chamber were two doors.  Heading through one, I entered a long tunnel comprised of fuzzy-looking blocks of a particularly gorgeous shade of purple.  Beneath was magma that was blood red in color, as opposed to mainly orange.  There was also some sort of flattened red metal dome on the ground just in front of me.  The tunnel eventually led to a dead end, so I tried the other door.

This path led me into another magma-lined area that reminded me a bit of a kitchen I’d once visited.  There were deep red blocks that appeared to be comprised of some sort of ceramic, which had simple patterns carved into them.  There were also floating platforms that looked like the heads of cotton swabs hooked together, and in here, some interesting fauna made its presence, known, though some of it seemed oblivious to mine.  This tunnel seemed to lead to a dead end as well, but I was able to locate some loose ground, and a few well-placed bombs got me down through it.  The bubbles must’ve been something organic, because they quickly grew back together after I’d passed through them.  Under here were a few corridors, one of which led to an area with different coloration.

On the other side of a synthetic corridor of red and blue blocks was an area mostly of red and white rock.  There were a few bubbles in this area, but they were of a dark green, rather than the usual purple color.  Some strange red pipes could be found, which served as nests for some of the denizens, though there appeared to be nowhere for them to actually reside, especially in such great numbers.  It eventually opened into an area much like Norfair’s entrance, except with the bubbles being green and the statues being absent.  At the deepest depths of this particular tunnel, in a magma-lined pit, I encountered the most beautiful natural formations in the area: a set of large bubbles that appeared to have large, red eyeballs inside of them.  Though it might sound as though they’re macabre or goofy, their strange appearance glowing brightly there in the darkness is quite breathtaking to actually experience.  Having reached the bottom, though, I had no choice but to back out and take another tunnel.  Back in the purple area again, I went deeper, finding some of the eye-like formations in this area as well.  These, on the other hand, were pink “eyes” encapsulated in purple bubbles; they were even prettier than the ones that I’d seen previously.  At its end was a foreboding natural formation that looked like some sort of hideous creature, made all the more intimidating by its red-violet color and blue eye formations.  Inside of its mouth was another elevator, which I used to descend into Norfair’s deeper half.

Down here, everything was the same red-violet color, and it was absolutely stunning; the fauna looked a great deal more intimidating, as well.  The blocks in some areas had quadratic spirals, tangled designs, and even red spheres in their centers.  There were also corridors of bright purple and blue metallic blocks.  These areas also featured a honeycomb design, perhaps for ventilation.  At its deepest, there was some sort of lair, though who or what could survive comfortably in such incredible temperatures is beyond me.  There wasn’t quite as much to the deeper part of Norfair, but what was there was absolutely marvelous.

By now, you’ve likely deduced that I am most comfortable in darkness, so it should be no real surprise that such an area would appeal greatly to me.  I cannot say why, but I have always felt safe in the darkness, especially in tight spaces.  In fact, we used to have a sofa bed when I was younger, and I used to like to pull out the bed, crawl into the space that led underneath the sofa itself, and sleep in there.  Sometimes, I would just listen to the sounds of my environment and watch the colors provided by my synaesthesia swirl before me in complete darkness.  Seeing bright colors in that darkness makes them stand out so well; they are in their purest form at that moment, unadulterated by any other kind of light, and that is experiencing the true beauty of color in its rawest form.  I only wish that you could see what I see…

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