the artistry and psychology of gaming


Undersea (Final Fantasy 3)

Undersea (Final Fantasy 3)

There is a great deal of intrigue surrounding a world called Gaia.  While it is a common name for planets, it has multiple parallel realities happening simultaneously.  While some realities are similar, many are wildly different.  Some are in the Iron Age, while others have reached much higher levels of technology.  Some rely on the power of steam, some on magic, and some suck the life force out of the planet.  There are some that even use remnants of fallen hi-tech civilizations in conjunction with lower technology.  One thing they all share, though, is the widespread use of magic and large medieval weaponry.

This particular reality has such unique wonders.  I discovered a mobile floating fortress comprised mostly of tree roots and vines, a tower with a strange hi-tech furnace at its zenith, and several forests with large ostrich-like creatures, and that’s only on the Floating Continent, which hangs in the air far above the sea by unknown means.  The main world is also filled with wondrous things, but since most of the planet is covered with water, the greatest are found beneath the waves.

I first dove into the ocean by the cape east of the village of Leprit.  The ocean floor is covered in bright blue sands that shifted with the ocean currents.  Now, certainly blue is not an unusual color for an ocean, but the particular shade of this seascape holds an unspoken charm of ages past, almost as if it shares a collective consciousness with the days of my youth.  The landmasses and underwater mountains arise as alluring dark cyan crags.  Bubbles and tiny sea creatures periodically float by, such as tiny octopi and schools of fish.  The vast emptiness and gentle motion of the currents make this a placid paradise, despite the presence of gigantic sea monsters.

Just east of my point of entry, I found an enormous patch of underwater vegetation.  It grew in a large mass and almost resembled heads of lettuce.  This underwater forest almost certainly concealed small worlds of untold wonder, but the water pressure was a bit too great for me to have investigated them more closely.  Just south of there and to the west a bit is the underwater entrance to the Salonia Catacombs, hidden amongst a bed of coral.  Salonia is by far the largest city on the face of this reality’s Gaia, as well as that of many other realities; an medieval megatropolis standing proud.

Even further south, beneath the town of Dastar, is a large coral reef that surrounds the entire island.  Nearby are a green boulder and a smaller patch of the aforementioned vegetation.  At the very southern tip of the Salonian continent, the land curves to make a formation resembling the pincers of a large beetle coming together.  Nestled in the space within that is another small reef and the Temple of Time.  This sacred temple is hidden under the ocean to help guard its precious treasures, which include strong weapons, enchanted rings, armor made of diamond, and Noah’s Lute, which can awaken even those living in the world of dreams.

Far to the south, beneath the Floating Continent, is a small range of underwater mountains along with a few boulders and hills.  What makes this area truly unique is the pale, grayish-purple sands that surround these mountains.  The sheer beauty of this scene haunts me to this very day.  Far to the east, beneath the mountainous continent where the wizard, Dorga, makes his home, is a tunnel through the land that leads to a small lake.  This is the only way to reach the village where Dorga used to live, a place where magic of untold power is taught.  The final sight is underneath the triangular island east of Goldor’s Mansion.  There is a cavern beneath this island, and it contains weapons and armor of incredible power.

What is the ocean floor, really, but a desert beneath water rather than air?  Despite being mostly vast and barren, there are patches of strange vegetation not seen anywhere else.  There are also strange creatures that conceal themselves well from outsiders.  There are also landforms that make themselves known high above the ground.  Most importantly, though, they are environments in which it is easy for an outsider to become lost.  There is so much in both of these environments worth finding, but it is never easy to find them, unless you’ve become acclimated to your surroundings.  Perhaps it is this inaccessibility that makes them regarded as such rare and valuable treasures.  It’s funny, isn’t it?  Humanity has come together and made towns and cities that are planned out in a way that makes them easy to navigate, and in doing so, has lost touch with its ability to figure out where it’s going outside of these settlements.

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