the artistry and psychology of gaming


Rock Star 3 (Kirby 64)

Rock Star 3 (Kirby 64)

Popstar is an interesting world all of its own, even beyond being star-shaped, but there are other worlds that exist near it in outer space.  Though many of them also bear the name “star”, they are not star-shaped.  Also unlike Popstar, they do not feature diverse landscapes; they are usually relegated to a single biome.  Though Neo Star – the mountainous world – isn’t intuitively named, the oceanic Aqua Star and the frosty Shiver Star are exactly what you’d expect.  Rock Star, the world I’d like to discuss today, is a bit different, however.

Rock Star is covered by desert and ruins, which makes its name slightly appropriate; while it conjures the image of a rocky world, sand is technically pulverized rock.  This world is great at hiding wonders out in the open, too, though I suppose that’s to be expected when your terrain is completely open due to a dearth of vegetation.  While exploring the vast emptiness, I found – in addition to the long stretches of desert – not only stone ruins in a surprisingly verdant area, but also a floating pyramid with astonishing technology inside and an elevator to a platform with holographic projections to boot.  These wonders were all out in the open, but the greatest wonder of all was actually hidden in a more orthodox manner.  Believe it or not, there was another desert of sorts underground.

I fell into the opening unwittingly, and was immediately overwhelmed by what I saw.  The sand beneath the sand, protected from the light, took on a light purple glow.  There were also colorful shards in dark pastels that twinkled just sitting on the ground.  Strange blocks that appeared to be from some sort of ruins sat half buried in the sand.  There were also cascades of sand coming from above as well as strange, coral-like formations erupting from the ground in purple and orange.  All of this and I hadn’t taken a single step from my point of entry.

Making my way through the cool sands, I began to encounter gray versions of the coral cacti that I’d seen earlier.  Not too far in, I also saw the skeleton of some kind of dead reptile with enormous teeth; it had become some sort of a miniature cavern in its posthumous state and held a glittering object in its mouth, but I wasn’t heavy enough to break my way inside to get a closer look.  Moving on, I saw mounds of sand that moved as cascades dumped more and more sand atop them; some even had depressions in the middle, making them resemble little volcanoes.  I came to something of a dead end, seeing only a swirling sand vortex before me.  I took a deep breath and leapt down into it…

I came into a very cozy circular chamber that was more blue than the previous area, likely due to there being even less light down here.  There were two different vortexes from which to choose; the one I elected to enter eventually brought me to a pair of stone walkways.  Sand still cascaded and piled in mounds down here, but in between the paths, a rupture in the stone wall poured a greenish water into the gully.  Leaping into the opening in the sand mound at the end of this half-bridge, I found myself in an even more incredible area.  There appeared to be a stone floor down here and upon it were brightly colored shapes in green, blue, purple, pink and orange; I couldn’t even begin to guess what they were, but their beauty was astonishing.  Pushing on, I realized that there was less sand and more water down here; I must’ve gotten deep enough to reach the water table.  The sand vortexes were also much larger down here, and gigantic antlions erupted from them periodically to try to catch me as their next meal.  After crossing above them, I came to a few pools, taking note that the water became extremely pale toward the bottom, likely due to some sort of dense mineral.  In a more shallow pool – one that barely came above my ankles – I noticed a hole, so I swam down into it.

I’d expected to be underwater, but instead, I came down a cascade – this one of water – into a pool apparently lacking the aforementioned mineral; it was clear and beautiful.  Crossing more large vortexes – these without floating bridges of sorts – I noticed another reptile skeleton in the distance.  At the end was yet another pool; this one was so clear that I could see straight to the bottom, and I noticed an opening, so I dove in and swam through it.  I came out of a mouth-like structure into a shaft of deep purple.  I swam down this shaft and up another one, dodging what seemed to be pieces of a spine as I ascended.  After fighting the current, I finally ended up on dry land again.  Not even bothering to dry myself off, I exited the underground wonderland and headed back out into the hot sun.

Such beauty and natural wonder enchants the desert at all times of the day.  Sometimes, though, the greatest of wonders are the ones that lie beneath.  As we are unable to pass through solid ground, such places are largely inaccessible to us, making them more of a rarity to our experience.  Because of this, things almost inconceivable to our minds are found in these subterranean pockets.  Truly, wonder is a thing born from the most mundane parts of our experiences.

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