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Nintendo eShop Humble Bundle Offers $88 Worth of Games for Pennies

Of course, you should pay as much as you can, because HIB supports great causes. 

This bundle includes eShop classics like Woah Dave, Guacamelee and Mighty Switch Force. Pay a little more and you get The Fall, Moon Chronicles and Olli Olli. I didn’t realize Christmas was coming this early! Go getcha some games here!

Buy: Nintendo Systems and Handhelds, Mario Plush
The Lanayru Sand Sea

“Some of the stories come from the land, whispered by the sand and echoed in the rocks and told again in the moist breath of the water and the low conversations of cottonwood trees …” 

         – Sarah Schlanger

Picture Credit: http://madmen.deviantart.com/

As with Faron Woods, a return journey through Lanayru Province uncovers new and stirring vistas. This time, the Hookshot allows us entrance into a series of ancient caves above a waterfall of sand, which culminates in a view that truly seems to extend until forever. Within these initial caves, Link once again meets a wandering Goron, who serves as one of this world’s first historians and archaeologists; as with previous Goron travelers, this one relates information that is part myth and part history, yielding the gravity of age to this already ancient land. These caves are interesting for another reason though, in that some being has posted warnings, travel advice, and almost journalistic notes concerning the mysterious land sea beyond and the enigma of the Timeshift Stones. Who exactly published these, and to what end, is unclear, but they do signify that there has been prolonged interest in this region of the Surface, at least among certain explorers in certain ages. This is potentially an interesting phenomenon, as it hints at a network of academics and explorers that perhaps existed in earlier times – at those who wished to understand the world and its peoples, and who sought to document and analyze both culture and history.

The cave mouth empties out onto the viewing platform of one of the robot colossi mentioned in the previous article dealing with Lanayru Province. When Link first lands in this province, and before he gets his first glimpse of the tiny, collapsed forms of the Ancient Robots, he is met with an almost uninterrupted view of the distant desert. The only things imposing upon this landscape are the truly gigantic statues that stand, like Pharaonic monuments, miles off in the hazy distance. Now, though, we find ourselves not miles away from these monoliths, but upon them, and we are met with very familiar items and designs. Shipping belts, crates, and ducts litter the distribution area below this viewing platform, and the circular designs from Lanayru Mining Facility are once again found everywhere. The Ancient Robots are, of course, still present in the art of this region, and the continuity throughout this province should remain striking. The only path forward leads downward, and ends at the very edge of the Sand Sea.

Above: The Ancient Harbor and Sand Sea of Lanayru Province.

It is here that Link meets the most advanced system of artificial intelligence yet encountered in this world. Upon activating the Timeshift Stone that serves as the power source of a small nearby boat, the robotic form Skipper is once again bestowed with animation, even while the burnt yellow sea gives way to a pastel ocean of greens, blues, and purples. There are few contrasts more memorable within this game than that which exists here, where life has been forcibly dragged from the past to assert its dominance over death. Within this nuanced scheme, Skipper fits beautifully. It is through this robotic lifeform that we gain knowledge of a people, of a culture which is as close to humanity as we get within Skyward Sword. And nowhere is this humanity more on display than at Skipper’s Retreat.

Skipper’s Retreat

The Retreat, which functions as Skipper’s long-time home, is numbingly surreal. As with most of the AI architecture within this region, this dwelling takes on the shape of Skipper’s head, in layers, complete with both eyes and mustache. The house itself rests atop an enormous tor, and overlooks the sea in every direction. The inside of the house is colorful, and lightly decorated with childish drawings of butterflies and fish. An ancient ship wheel, nautical map, and anchor adorn the walls, while listless painted clouds float across the ceiling. In addition to these very human elements—the art of one’s children, and symbols of one’s trade—the sparse furniture pales in comparison to the profusion of pictures of crew and ship that take prominent place within this home. Handwritten notes from Skipper’s appreciative crew and children are framed near these pictures, and by now a thought should be forming in the mind. That thought hopefully is some permutation of this question: who created such life, and why bother instilling in it such human desires, thoughts, and concepts? We need only look around this room to reaffirm the human element inherent in at least this class of robotic life. Why else would one surround oneself with memories of family and friends unless one had the faculty for memory, appreciation, and the desire for interpersonal connections? When Skipper speaks to Link, he recounts memories from his golden past, and even acknowledges that without the power of the nearby Timeshift Stone, he could not exist. He knows of non-existence, then. And this brings to life the unimaginably tragic. Also within his home, alongside the hand-created pictures and hand-written notes, are two small figures lying at the foot of the far wall. It takes little imagination to realize that these were once his children. And, with such memory and feelings as the Skipper has, he doubtlessly knows what became of them. What he must be feeling as he approaches what was once his home we can only guess at, and try to understand the nature of how these feelings manifest themselves in a form of life unlike us, and yet so eerily like us.

Lanayru Sand Sea, like the Great Sea of The Wind Waker, is a large expanse of relative emptiness dotted by isles and atolls of varying interest. The original dock and Skipper’s Retreat are examples of these small cultural remnants, as is the Shipyard, which is the largest complex of buildings to be found in this region. The Shipyard is a mass of towering buildings clustered together and connected by rail carts and zip lines. To me, the only notable thing about this nexus of mine cart tracks is the introduction of a wave motif that serves as the embellishment on many of these buildings. Link is unable to access the vast majority of these structures, so they remain enigmatic in purpose and design.  

The Shipyard

The Pirate’s Stronghold appears to have sprung from the same font of architecture as all these various structures, adding to the cultural continuity of the region. It is incredibly similar in color and theme to the designs of the Ancient Robots, but with harsher wave motifs, and blocky skulls on every surface instead of the familiar robot image. When the Timeshift Stones are activated, the colors come to life, in intense reds, oranges, and warm browns. Strange, mad-eyed sun discs and columns resembling nutcrackers mark the walls and doorways, and the overall design scheme of this stronghold is that of a more vicious ocean, whereas only the gentler aspects of the sea are present in earlier structures. Most prominent of all, though, is the massive shark’s head that opens and closes to prevent and allow access into the stronghold itself; the power source necessary for this must indeed be prodigious in energy, especially to raise it up and keep it in place. It is strange that there should be artificial intelligence in this region that is evil, however, and this fact begs a few questions. Were these pirates created by a rival faction of creatures to set against the Ancient Robots, or was their programming simply corrupted? What kind of history was there between these two factions of sentient life, and how did they view one another?

The Pirate’s Stronghold and Sandship

The primary temple dungeon of this region takes the form of a great ship. Seldom do we meet moving dungeons with The Legend of Zelda series, and this ship proves to be among the largest. Yet, for its size, it is curiously empty in terms of architectural invention or creativity. While there are the same designs found elsewhere in this province within the ship’s interior, and though they are made of a different material (being wood instead of stone or metal), there are few innovative embellishments that build upon already-existent patterns or images created by the Ancient Robots. Like everything touched by the temporal displacement of the Timeshift Stones, the past is vividly brought to life in both color and newness. The Sandship is no different, in that it springs to life with cyan, orange, and a rich blue echoed both on walls and carpet. The layout of the ship is almost labyrinthine in its current state, and fully exploring its passages takes a great deal of time. But, one can still trace the functions of each room, whether it be a prison, an engine room, or a simple storage bay. Ultimately, we must remember, that even though this seems to be one of the most prosaic of ships, its entire purpose was to protect one of the Sacred Flames, and that each element of the Lanayru Sand Sea seems bent to that overarching goal—once again speaking to the designs and forethought of the goddess Hylia.

New Post has been published on http://www.sanitarium.fm/archives/8068

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