the artistry and psychology of gaming


Onion Ocean 4 (Kirby’s Return to Dream Land)

Onion Ocean 4 (Kirby’s Return to Dream Land)

My most recent trip to Popstar was a special one.  At the time, I’d begun to think that I’d already explored everything of worth in the universe, and was considering relegating my new adventures to old places.  All it took was one trip to that magical planet to reaffirm my faith in the beauty of the universe.  Not only did I find yet another set of beautiful regions on Popstar itself, but the trip also took me to another planet, which showed me beauty in a volcanic biome like I’d not thought possible.  When you get into an adventurer’s rut, Popstar is a good place place to go to revitalize your desire to explore.

The place of which I’d like to tell you today is Onion Ocean.  Onion Ocean might not sound like a pleasant place to be, but it’s quite stunning.  As far as I can tell, there is no strong odor there, as the name may suggest, though I have no way of telling, due to my anosmia; the water did not have an unusual taste.  At any rate, the beaches are nothing out of the ordinary; they’re pretty, but most beaches are, unless they’re covered in trash or dead fish.  The true beauty is found in the ocean itself.

The greenish-blue color of the rocks made it difficult to see the irridescent quality of the water, which gives a prismatic coat to everything.  In the distance, there were all kinds of different rocks – or perhaps they were coral – with starfish and other assorted sea life upon them.  I swam to the bottom of a shaft that seemed to terminate in a dead end, looking at the ornately patterned blocks before me; I seemed to have encountered some sort of Atlantean ruin.  I also noticed a switch behind me, and striking it caused the wall before me to separate and I was able to swim through.  I admired the patterns on the blocks as I did so, though it was a bit difficult to tell what was actually carved upon them and what was an illusion made by the ripples in the water.

In the next area, the patterns changed a bit, but it was hard to tell, as I was thrust into immediate peril.  There was a spinning bar – perhaps made of coral – that liked like a spiny sea cucumber, and it was right ahead of me.  Swimming past an underwater plant to get a better view, I watched it closely, and then swam past when the time was right.  Much to my dismay, there were several more behind it.  As the path twisted and turned, I was endlessly plagued by these traps.  Fortunately, I found a beautiful alcove in which I could rest my body, and more importantly, my mind.  This was not underwater, but rather, some kind of air pocket, and as I stood upon a pretty bridge of periwinkle and cyan, I could see what looked like aqueducts or a bridge in the distance.  I dove back in and made my way through the rest of the passage.

At long last, I was safe from the spinning bars, so I took the opportunity to look around.  There was a purple plant or coral of some kind, and some odd rock formations that I can best describe as twisted shells were visible in the distance.  I saw a door, and entered it, but it led me to a room that was mostly inaccessible.  Leaving, I swam around until I noticed a well-hidden door behind some seaweed, which led to the other part of the aforementioned room, so I explored it in earnest.  In here, I saw a blue pole with ornate green designs etched into it, though I could not read them.  A bit further on, I found another alcove with a bridge, this one underwater.  Purple columns with ornate markings seemed to hold up a beautiful structure with conch shells and a swirling lattice of light blue.

I’d just begun to relax, when in the next area, enormous, spiny seashells bobbed up and down in narrow passages.  Sighing, I pushed on, timing my movements in order to prevent being crushed.  The diameter of these shells was a bit less than my height, but hypothetically, I could easily have fit inside of one if I’d curled up.  I swam through for a bit, starting to become acclimated to this new hazard.  I hit a switch to destroy a steel wall in front of me, but I noticed that the sound of its destruction first came from behind me.  I turned around, and much to my horror, there was another shell easily twice the size of the others coming toward me, and the wall in front of me had not yet collapsed!  It did not move very quickly, but there were a number of obstacles in my path, making this a taxing swim.  Of course, said obstacles were instantly crushed by the juggernaut rolling behind me, so the encumberment was mine alone.  I was able to duck into a little alcove with a pretty pillar to let it pass harmlessly over me, but it wasn’t the only gigantic shell that I encountered in this passage; there was another one right above it!  Once I’d gotten past the hazards, I was in a vertical shaft with spiraling pillars and more of the swirled lattice; in its prime, this must have been a beautiful civilization.

The next area was completely out of the water, and seemed to be inside some manner of ruined edifice.  Strangely, the water seemed to be held back by some unseen force, since it was plainly visible through the missing parts of the wall.  From here, I could see other ruined buildings of the civilization, leaving me to the inevitable question of what caused its downfall.  The ground beneath me had a cyan stripe, the origin of which I could not discern.  In here were a number of ladders, which appeared to be crafted of purple coral; their shape was a little sloppy, but they were aesthetically pleasing nonetheless, and complemented the other colors of the area quite well.  Zigzagging my way to the bottom, I found the exit, and left this architectural wonder behind.

Abandoned civilizations at the bottom of the ocean fascinate me; there are so many questions to be left unanswered, even in addition to the usual wonderings of what caused its downfall.  Was this always an underwater civilization?  If so, then did its residents breathe water, or was there some sort of technology in place to provide breathable air?  What did its residents look like?  Was it once afloat?  If so, what caused it to float?  What caused it to sink after its downfall?  Even after all of these questions fade into unanswerable silence, it is still fascinating to think that the sea has now claimed the ghost town; its new residents – assorted sea life – swim through it, thinking nothing of these questions, and I begin to wonder what such an unawareness must be like, as well.  The wonder then begins to turn to that of the ocean itself; we say things like, “The ocean has claimed this abandoned civilization as its own,” but such expressions are completely metaphorical, as the ocean has no consciousness of its own; it is merely a collection of liquid molecules.

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