the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Vanilla Dome 4 (Super Mario World)

Vanilla Dome 4 (Super Mario World)

The Mushroom Kingdom is part of an enormous world, even though most people see that small part of it.  This world, however, has so many unexplored territories and lost continents.  One such forgotten land is known as Dinosaur Land, which is a bit of a misnomer, since there are admittedly few dinosaurs inhabiting it.  It is, however, a rich, beautiful place with many deceptively food-named regions.  There are rolling plains, deep oceans, confusing forests, massive bridges, and deep caverns.  Today, I’d like to talk about the inside of a hollow mountain known as Vanilla Dome.

Vanilla Dome is a fairly diverse area, despite being mostly underground, for lack of a better word.  As I’ve said, a large mountain rises at the northwestern corner of the Donut Plains, and right on the front is a gate that leads inside to Vanilla Dome.  The inside is comprised mostly of a sparkling mineral that usually appears blue.  However, since I’d followed the Star Road – one of the entrances of which is actually in Vanilla Dome – I’d landed in a strange alternate version of Dinosaur Land, and in this version, the rock was more of a brownish-gray that’s more visually stimulating than its description suggests.  In here, you can find underground rivers of magma, a deep lake, a haunted house, a castle, and a mysterious palace, but there’s also something inconceivable and special here.

I happened upon an area with open sky; the sun had apparently set while I was inside, as I was greeted by the dark of the night.  There were tall, flat, tree-like platforms as are found in the Mushroom Kingdom, but these had plaid markings and looked a bit more like mushrooms.  The stars scintillated on the dim, bluish-green sky, and what appeared to be the sillhouette of a forest was visible in the distance.  While reflecting later, I wasn’t able to figure out just how I was able to see these things from the inside of a mountain, but it wasn’t something that had occurred to me at the time; I was entranced.  I collected my thoughts and began my perilous journey high above the world.

I didn’t make it very far before I saw a strange and beautiful thing that just made me stop in my tracks.  It appeared to be some sort of giant daikon radish.  It was the traditional white with a green leafy top, but it had large, pale blue spots all over it.  Not quite sure what to make of it, I climbed to the top and made my way onward.  Before long, I encountered another, this one with an orange top.  It didn’t appear edible, so I decided not to take my chances, but just behind it was yet another with a green top.  I hadn’t questioned the gigantic trees and mushrooms back in the Mushroom Kingdom, nor did I ponder their plaid equivalents here, but for some reason, I could not get over these gigantic vegetables.

Soon enough, I came to a makeshift staircase made of daikon radishes, these with golden tops.  It then occurred to me that these also follow the pattern of Dinosaur Land.  Dinosaur Land’s landscape has an odd fascination with a quartet of colors: yellow, green, red, and blue.  You’ll see pipes, temples, and even some of its inhabitants that come in these four colors, almost as if it is a source of power for the island itself, and these brobdingnagian plant roots were a part of it all, despite how odd it was that they were mostly above ground.  I knew that I would eventually reach some with blue tops if I traveled far enough.

It wasn’t terribly long before my prophecy was realized; I came to a blue-topped daikon radish in a line of several of them.  It was then that I found myself in a precarious situation; they had bars of small green spheres extending from their sides, and the only way to traverse this chasm was to use these bars as springboards.  Depending upon where I landed, I’d spring higher or lower.  I wanted to spring high enough that I’d cross the gap, but not so high as to lose control of my flight or to break my leg upon landing.  I carefully made my way across several sets of these, which was both thrilling and terrifying; I love flying through the air, but one false move would mean a long way down.

The next radish-themed obstacles reached seemingly insurmountable heights.  It would have been nearly impossible to climb them, but luckily, there were springboards attached to them, so I shot myself to the top.  This was a much safer way to soar, but was disappointingly short-lived.  At the zenith, I found a tall pair of white posts with a white bar in the middle.  Blue stripes – dark on one and light on the other – swirled up these posts, but surprisingly, they didn’t look as out of place as they might have.  I leapt, grabbed the bar in the middle, and let myself down more gently.

Before me was a long stretch of chasms, springboards, radishes, and pipes.  I knew that this was going to be intense, so I took a deep breath and charged forward.  Unfortunately, my foot slipped on the second daikon radish and I landed on my belly, perched precariously at the end of a springboard, which mercifully didn’t twang me into outer space.  I stared down into the pipe beneath me and saw a deep cavern filled with lava; a raft of skulls sat atop it.  I stood up, dusted myself off, and regained my focus, determined not to fall below.  Soon, I reached more solid ground, and stopped to admire a scene with an orange-topped radish, a springboard, and a mystery block; it just stuck out to me for some reason.   I rushed forth, running across a set of mystery blocks only accessible by a very dangerous jump from underneath.  At long last, I reached two large striped posts with a central bar moving up and down between them.  Recognizing this as my goal, I triumphantly burst through it, making my way to the castle beyond.

There’s something special about a starry night with basic colors sprinkled throughout it.  A simple palette like red, yellow, blue, and green adds a friendly smile to the cozy feel of the night wraping you in its dark blanket.  Add in some large, goofy-looking, but comforting objects, and you have a night to remember.  Maybe it will remind you of the soothing nostalgia of an old cartoon, or maybe of a soft, pleasant dream from your youth.  Whatever the case, it will likely become a memory that you call upon in in times of duress to bring peace to your tumultuous mind.

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