When someone says, “excuse me while I kiss the sky,” they don’t mean it literally. But in video games, metaphors are literal, and you can not only kiss the sky but you can also walk on the clouds.
This level is called “Above the Clouds.”
I’m not a scientist but I’m pretty sure that walking on clouds is physically impossible. Unless you can walk on water, I don’t think you can walk on clouds. But silly things like physics have never stopped game developers before. Honestly, how realistic can we expect a game about a guy who can find skateboards and axes inside giant eggs to be?
Master Higgins is high – literally – in the Troposphere or Stratosphere.
Platforms that look like clouds are one thing, but there are entire levels that take place on clouds with quite a few variants that are worth looking at.
These are common in games like the Super Mario Bros. franchise, Adventure Island, or DuckTales. These levels are usually a bonus section where you collect as many items as possible in order to get a great reward, such as a special item or extra lives.
You will likely be dying a lot here, because these levels have a lot of pits to fall into. Considering that you are at least 20 kilometers off the ground, it makes sense that you die if you fall. Forget about the fact that you’re walking on clouds; it all makes perfect sense.
These levels are not exclusive to only Nintendo and classic games.
As opposed to delving into the science of walking on clouds, let’s look at some ancient mythology and legends that deal with this concept.
We know from R.E.M.’s Losing My Religion video that angels are beings that live in the clouds. But many different cultures share a similar mythology. For example, Raijin the god of thunder of the Shinto religion is a giant humanoid creature that’s sometimes depicted on a cloud, along with Fujin the god of wind. These gods from Japanese mythology are likely the inspiration for many of these cloud ideas in video games.
Raijin and Fujin being badass as hell.
A concept shared by many cultures is that heaven is a place where only deities reside, so it is little wonder that we often encounter castles and palaces in heavenly video game levels. However, you will rarely encounter a deity in these levels. Here is a list of awesome things you typically don’t see in cloud levels.
1-No Stairway to Heaven
The Led Zeppelin song doesn’t involve pipes and clouds – at least not these kinds of pipes.
You never get to a cloud level by walking on a stairway, and that’s very sad to me. The closest thing to a stairway was the vines in Super Mario Bros., which is actually a reference to Jack and the Beanstalk. The tower in World 5 of Super Mario Bros. 3 is a reference to the Tower of Babel, except for the fact that this tower actually works (as long as you ignore all the enemies and traps in the way). Who knows, maybe some badass plumbers will find the historical Tower of Babel one day.
2-No Care Bears
I was never a fan of this show.
I’d love to murder a Care Bear. Is that so wrong? Unfortunately, we won’t find any enemies that look like these creatures in cloud levels. Adventure Island doesn’t have any bears, but it has frogs (?), fire, and angry clouds. I want to kill some bears!
3-No Angels or Gods
The original design was too risque for us.
Atlus is a development company that makes most of their games about God vs. the Devil. I’ve played some of their games (except the Persona franchise – not my cup of tea) and I’ve been in purgatory, hell, some weird tower of creation, but never in heaven, and I don’t know why.
The closest thing to deities in video games are the Kaminari Goro from Megaman 2, a robot model of Raijin that actually resembles the character, and that’s pretty awesome. Even more awesome is the level 4 boss of Jackie Chan’s Action Kung-Fu; by far the most badass battle ever.
Cue epic music here.
My ideal version of a cloud level in a video game would probably look something like this.
Slayer-Quest: Heaven or Hell?