The SNES was my first very own console. Before that, I played several games for NES or PC at my friend’s places, or took turns with my brother on our Amiga 500+, but the SNES was mine and it was in my room. I had bought it from a friend with a handful of games, but at some point I heard about a very special game that was different, bigger and more impressive than any other game. It was an exaggerated schoolyard story, but when I finally found the game at some shop, it wasn’t just one of the usual small cardbord boxes; it was gigantic and beautiful. It was Terranigma.
Of course, the game did not fully live up to the bloated schoolyard stories, and yet I was captivated by it. Up until then, video games were mere colorful worlds of fun and challenges, but never presented me with stories of such significance. It wasn’t just another case of leaving a peaceful village to hunt down an evil wizard. I had to bring the sunken continents back to the surface, travel them and gradually bring life back to the barren planet. So many ethical and existential questions were thrown at my innocent soul and I loved every one of them. But while things were relatively harmless during the first half of the game, everything changed with a night in an ice cave. After an avalanche, I fell into a deep hole with no escape. I was woken by a goat. It led me to the body of her companion, who died in the fall.
The game gave me control to find a way out, but it was an idle task, because it was virtually impossible to escape. The goat had no way out either, but at least a plan for the night. I was offered to snuggle up in her warm fur and eat her companion for breakfast the next morning. The protagonist protested, he wouldn’t do this, but the goat explained, that it was exactly what they had to do to survive. The way the goat spoke about her dead companion, with deep affection, melancholy and also determination, was one of the defining video game experiences of my childhood. It wasn’t cheesy, it wasn’t badass, it wasn’t pretentious, it was just deeply sad and a little bit beautiful.
Even though the game had raised difficult issues up to this point, this scene really got to me. I think I was learning something significant about the world in that moment and a part of my childhood shattered. Well, in a positive sense. I think back to this scene to this day and prefer not to look it up on YouTube to remember it exactly as I experienced it back in the 90s.
Finally, the goat found a way out for me, but she couldn’t climb the steep wall herself. When I came back to the cave to save her, I found her dead body beside her companion.
Terranigma was released in 1996 in Europe for the SNES and completed the Soul Blazer trilogy. It was published by Enix (at that time not yet merged with Square). It was never released in the United States.
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