Level 8: The Island
by Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo
As I start this level, I notice an obvious shift between this level and the past levels. Not only is the background for the image of this stage a slight shade of purple as opposed to the beige that has colored the images for levels past, but as this stage begins, a somber flamenco-sounding guitar begins to play as Catherine Zeta Jones speaks: “In front of you, through reeds and water is an island. A slasher bird nests there. If you step too long on the island, it will swoop and peck you through your skull. Collect the notes and escape in the hot air balloon.” The note this time sounds almost like a violin or an oboe, alternating between two different notes continuously. “Get in the water in order to get close to the notes,” she suggests. The note appears to be towards my left side. As I move forward, it sounds like I’m walking first on gravel, then through reeds, and finally on a marshy ground. I hear a bird cawing loudly on my right side and then on my left side. As a frog croaks on my right side, I suddenly plummet in deep water as I collect the first note. As I press the left and right foot on-screen I hear splashing noises instead of footsteps, which I immediately notice is significantly noisier than the sound of walking. I hear a bird cawing to my right as the second note begins playing, a slightly higher pitched variation on the first musical note. “Good. Now collect the second note.” I splash toward the second note and collect it. The last musical note, alternates between three notes, and I swim to collect it using the same process as earlier.
As I suspected when I first got in the water, this particular environment has certainly made locating the notes much more difficult because the sound of the splashing now masks the sound of the musical notes and enemies, which I can only hear briefly as I let the controller go. My fear about the slasher bird finding me and pecking through my skull forces me to move about frantically without taking time to listen to where each sound is coming from. I spin the wheel and push the feet on the screen in order to move rapidly around, hoping to hear the sparkling exit sound. As I get back on land, I run across the island, moving on what sounds like gravel, possibly over sand (it’s nearly silent), over swampland and then back into the water. Periodically, I hear the exit sound ahead of me but it is impossible for me to locate it above the splashing sounds. Finally as I hear the exit sound getting noticeably louder, I swim towards it. She whispers, “Be careful,” as I swim closer to the note. Unsure of what she means by “be careful” in this context, I swim forward, when suddenly I hear a bird shrieking loudly in my left ear. In an instant the screen freezes and I hear the sound of a bird pecking furiously at my skull as my character screams. Catherine Zeta Jones chimes in “Your brains are bird food.” I will come back tomorrow.