the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Shooting Star Summit (Paper Mario)

Shooting Star Summit (Paper Mario)

Many adventurers have traveled to the Mushroom Kingdom, and many times each at that.  It truly is a special place, and a welcome destination for new or even first-time adventurers.  It’s almost an intergalactic tourist destination, inviting travelers from all walks of life, and I must confess that it was one of my first adventures, as well.  Many have seen the plains, the deserts, the forests, the jungles, the glaciers, and the infernos.  The real question, however, is what lies beyond?

There is a place just outside of the castle walls known as Shooting Star Summit.  Few know much about this place other than that it exists.  Even those living in the Mushroom Kingdom know little; the most esoteric among them know only that a fortuneteller and her younger brother live at its base, but little know of its zenith.  Legend has it that the very top leads beyond the stars themselves!  Well, my friend, it’s time to let you in on a little secret.

The road to Shooting Star Summit is just to the side of the Mushroom Kingdom’s castle.  Along the road, there are a few ruins of unknown origin, but the most notable feature is the lavender foliage.  Aside from the purple grass, there are plants with large leaves of this color, which have a star in their centers.  As you head further out, you reach an area that is bathed in perpetual night.  Across the bridge, you’ll see two different roads; one high and the other low.  The low road leads to the fortuneteller’s house.  The plateau walls have stars and crescent moons upon them, and their coloration is an indescribable shade of iridescent.  There’s a picnic bench out back that creates a very charming scene; I felt like I could’ve stayed there for an eternity.  Inside the house, the fortuneteller’s table has a magenta light pouring onto it, and it somehow showers the floor with star-shaped patches of light.  There’s a spiral staircase that goes around the entire house leading to the second floor, where her brother spends most of his time.

The high road leads to a dark rainbow wonderland.  The grass cycles through dark cool colors, and the sky is deep blue sprinkled with countless sparkling celestial bodies.  Shooting stars that seemed to be made of crystal periodically fell from the sky and tumbled along the ground.  The whole area has a spiraling path that leads gradually upward, and its walls cycle through every color of the rainbow, and are plastered with star-shaped lights that also move.  Small pink flowers are found periodically throughout the climb, though the low bushes are only found closer to the bottom.  I climbed up the natural stairs, eventually reaching the very top, and what I saw left me only able to stare in wonder.  There was a round stone tablet upon the ground; it was purple on the outside and cyan closer to the center, creating a gradient effect.  There were seven small circles around the outside, each of which had a differently colored star in its center.  At the very center of it all was a vertical column of turquoise light with white stars all over it that shot straight into space.  I stepped into the column and was lifted up into the stars.

There were stars of every shape and size everywhere around me, and I stood upon a circular platform of what appeared to be stardust.  It was white and powdery, as well as constantly moving.  A small trail broke away from the central platform and spiraled even higher.  I followed this path, climbing to unimaginable heights, and I eventually saw two clouds – which appeared to have eyes – and a tall column with two lanterns and a golden crescent moon adorning it.  It seemed that I had reached some sort of city among the stars, so I headed in.

Here, in this city known as Star Haven, the ground was like that in the upper are of Shooting Star Summit, but a bit lighter in its colors.  It was built of bricks of dark blue and bright green; an unusual combination that went surprisingly well together.  Near the entrance, there were two pale blue trees with stars of many different colors instead of leaves, though most of them were yellow.  Several staircases led to buildings where sentient stars lived.  I saw one that had an unusual item; it was a column made almost entirely of pale iridescent light with matching darker stars floating within it, almost like a cylindrical snow globe of sorts.  The floors of these buildings were made of stone tiles of varying sizes of quadrilaterals, and there were ivy-like vines decorating the outsides.  These were open-air buildings, since their walls were comprised of elaborate fences, rather than solid brick.  Their doors were panels that matched the column of light that was within the one house I’d mentioned.  In the sky, there was some sort of aurora, but it appeared to be made of glass, and was almost flower-like in its shape, rather than the shimmering curtain with which most people are familiar.  There was a pool of light blue sparkling water behind the main part of the city, and across it was a bridge that led to a small shrine.  Along this bridge were a few fountains spewing from the tops of columns, which had stars floating atop the water.  Ascending a glowing blue staircase, I entered the shrine to find seven large sentient stars floating atop crystal pillars.  The shrine was filled with the same sparkling water, and the path led up some stairs to a very small vehicle made for traveling through outer space.  The spirits let me take it for a short ride, and so I zoomed through outer space at blinding speeds, completely losing myself in the moment.

Outer space has such untold wonders.  Hints of them come out to tease us at night, when the sky becomes a window to the great beyond.  For centuries, humanity has told stories about what could be out there, whether they be myths about constellations or futuristic works of science fiction, but the truth is that what’s really out there is far beyond anything that we can imagine.  While the idea of outer space being infinite is so far beyond my comprehension, is it any wonder why people think it to be?  Our own planet is so immense that there is absolutely no way to possibly see every square inch of it in a single lifetime, or even in many.  Now, take that idea and imagine that our solar system has eight planets, many of which are larger than our own.  Now, think of every star in our galaxy potentially having another several planets caught in its gravitational pull.  Add to that the numerous other galaxies out there and the inconceivable amount of space between each of these things; beings such as we cannot begin to grasp how absolutely enormous this universe truly is, and while space cannot be as infinite as the mind, its reaches are still far beyond our comprehension.

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