the artistry and psychology of gaming


World 3 (Mr. Sandman)

World 3 (Mr. Sandman)

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the sandman: a being who places sleeping sand on the eyes of the dormant.  This sand is said to cause dreams, and while I find this story to be highly implausible for several reasons, it did cause me to have a unique experience.  As meta as this may seem, I had a dream that I was, in fact, this sandman; this bringer of dreams.  It was almost as though I was dreaming of the Mushroom Kingdom, since it had a very similar feel to it, but the landscape was completely different.  While the clouds, fortresses, pipes, and tall trees with flat tops were all similar elements, their appearance was drastically different.

Exploring this barren landscape for a while, I reached the third region after making my way through the second castle.  The regions in this land of dreams do not have any clear distinctions between them; I could not see one particular area and tell you to which region it belongs.  However, they are all unique, and this third region was very special, even if its first area was extremely typical of this world; a realm caught halfway between a dream and a nightmare.  After its first area, it changed into something very special; something that is juxtaposed to the rest of this world.  The castle is also quite beautiful, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I came out of the second castle to empty black skies.  The ground beneath me and the castle itself were both comprised of a black and dark cyan checkerboard material.  Just ahead was a structure of jet black, but outlined in cyan to make it visible, as are many structures in this world.  A single black cloud outlined in dark cyan caught my eye, and as I stared up to it, a large ball of flame with a melancholy face upon it leapt into the air.  I made my way through a narrow passage as more and more of these flames leapt up at me, their hearts too deep in despair to goad them in my direction.  I went around a sort of vertical loop, and landed upon a disproportionately cheery red-and-white checkerboard platform.  It began to sink under my weight, and when it sank beneath the ground, I panicked and jumped up to the surface just in time, and continued along this depressing landscape.

I came to a springboard before an object I’d come to know as the pipes of this world; it was outlined in white and had upon it a strange face with downward arrows for eyes.  In between two of these walked a dark cyan skull; bouncing upon these only causes them to crumble and immediately reassemble themselves, so I slipped by instead.  I soon came to a lovely bridge of white and cyan outlines; the water below was black, but was also outlined in cyan.  After crossing this bridge, I came to an open span of nothingness; carefully leaping across the gigantic chasm, I landed near another simple labyrinth.  I went down inside, moving quickly to avoid the skulls marching toward me, came out the other side, and entered the small fortress.

In the second area, the checkerboard motif remained, but it was black and a rust color instead.  I climbed a black-and-white striped rope and headed through a passage to come out on top.  Taking a running leap, I cleared another impossible chasm, and ran through a large hall that was empty aside from strange munching creatures that materialized out of nothing.  I passed a pipe at the end and came to another small fortress.  I lowered the green flag and went inside, preparing for the third area.

Here, the checkerboard was still brown, but I was in a flat treetop area, and the leaves were just the same spring green that they always were; no checkerboard.  The placement of these tall trees was quite beautiful; I took in the scenery as I leapt around them.  At one point, the tree-like structure broke down and turned into a set of cliffs, almost as though it were some manner of mountainside.  This illusion was perpetuated by the fact that the checkerboard motif was so surreal, that it wasn’t unreasonable to think of these as mountains.  Eventually, I came to a large brown checkerboard castle, and I went inside.

In the castle, the checkerboard was white and gray.  I jumped across thin poles with spinning bars comprised of balls of energy ready to fry me.  I made it across and through a tiny labyrinth and stopped before a pool of lava.  The lava, like nearly everything in this world, was black, but had a deep red outline.  As I charged through the increasingly dangerous obstacle course, blasts of fire began to come toward me.  I finally reached the bridge to find two spinning bars – one long and one short – that shared their point of origin embedded in the bridge, but no apparent source for the flames.  I grabbed the key, allowing me to leave the castle, and I was off to another region.

Dreams can be a funny thing; your mind attempts to make sense of the nonsensical.  In the conscious reality, were there to be a nightscape comprised entirely of black objects, there would be no way to visually perceive them.  You’d not know that they exist, so you would likely bump into them.  However, a dream is created by your mind, the very engine of your perception, and so you do know that these invisible objects exist.  Such a paradox cannot occur, and so your brain finds a way to make these things perceptible, whether by outlining them in a bright color or giving you extrasensory perception.  In any case, I find it fascinating how the mind creates and then perceives its on creations, over which it has complete sovereignty.

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