the artistry and psychology of gaming


Overworld Fortress (Kid Icarus)

Overworld Fortress (Kid Icarus)

I once visited a place known as Angel Land.  Angel Land is comprised of three main regions: Underworld, Overworld, and Skyworld.  Underworld is a dark place beneath the land where ruins can sometimes be found.  It is a bit perplexing, but trees grow down here, despite the absence of light.  Overworld is comprised mostly of rolling plains and beautiful blue skies.  It is the surface of this world, and has quite a bit of diversity in its biomes.  Skyworld, as its name suggests, is a place high within the clouds.  The clouds range from cyan to pink as you ascend, with white ones at the very top.  Structures built against this region’s gorgeous black skies are crafted from strange organic-looking material.  Skyworld has a beautiful palace, but each of these regions also has a fortress; perhaps the most remarkable of these is the one found in Overworld.

The fortresses are dark, labyrinthine places with denizens completely unlike those of the areas outside of their respective walls.  While they have certain elements in common, they are each different in a number of ways, even their internal construction.  Each also contains a legendary treasure, which is guarded by a powerful beast.  The fortress in Overworld is constructed mostly of ice blocks, and is guarded by a large serpent known as Hewdraw.  Such a place can be frightening to some, but if you keep a sharp eye and have good navigational skills – or don’t mind becoming lost – it becomes quite a pleasant experience.

The entrance is a grand chamber crafted of blue bricks, and the floor has a red and black checkerboard design upon it, which matches the red pillars and statues quite well.  Descending the ladder leads to a junction in a large empty room.  In here, there are doorways and little else; the vastness of the chamber is really quite wonderful.  One of the doors leads to a chamber with some red liquid filling its bottom.  I believe it to be some sort of poison, but regardless of its composition, it is deadly to the touch.  One must cross the floating bricks of ice to get through, slipping past a tall red pillar.  You’ll eventually reach a dead end that’s slightly more literal than you might imagine.  There are pools of the red liquid and red devices that contain extending poles, which will shoot forth and impale anyone too close to them.  There is a ladder at the top of this chamber, but it is just out of reach.

From the original junction, descending the ladder leads to a different area, one which holds its own sense of wonder.  There are festive-looking platforms with zigzag designs upon them, which resemble scaffolding.  Some of the ceilings have pinkish-red pots within them with the mouths facing down toward the ground.  They have blue zigzags upon them, but it is wise to stay back; tiny winged serpents often drop out of them in seemingly endless numbers.  At the bottom, there is an area built of larger blocks of ice, which also contains more of the spear traps.  From this room, one can reach a medical center; a vast chamber of white brick containing a nurse, who can cure adventurers of the eggplants’ curse.  When I was carelessly turned into a walking eggplant by one of the wizards within this fortress, I found myself backtracking here.  While it was not a painful experience per se, it did make me feel a bit funny to have my upper half transformed into a vegetable; I’d tentatively recommend it if you’re confident in your ability to quickly reach one of these nurses.

Climbing back up, I eventually reached a very chilly room; icicles hung from the ceiling and large chunks of ice hung in the air.  Just above there was where I’d had my encounter with the Eggplant Wizards, but slipping through a narrow passage, I managed to make it out of the room with my form intact.  Adjacent to here is a hot spring, which is built of white bricks similar to those in the medical center.  Considering all I had encountered, I was a bit hesitant to touch the pale orange waters, but eventually found their healing properties to be incredible, and so I stopped a bit to soak and regain my stamina.  Crawling over to the other side of the fortress, I descended deep into its belly, passing through another medical center.  I reached an antechamber with several statues upon pillars and a great deal of the ornate checkerboard flooring; I knew that the Hewdraw’s chamber was nearby.  Entering against my better judgment, I found it to be relatively safe.  There were ice bricks floating in the air above pools of the dangerous red liquid in this small room.  The Hewdraw evidently sleeps in this substance, but fortunately for me, it was asleep, so I quietly made my way back out of the fortress.

I sometimes wonder if it is irony that places some of the brightest colors in some of the darkest places, where they are unlikely to be seen.  I certainly doubt that such happenings are intentional, as coloration is not crucial to survival in places with little light.  Whatever the reason, I find this coincidence to be absolutely wonderful; nothing is more striking than a bright color against pitch black.  Such stunning imagery makes even getting lost in dangerous places a memorable experience.  It just goes to show how even bad memories can evoke feelings of nostalgia, especially in the heart of an adventurer.

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