This installment’s trans-dimensional transmission comes from a troubled individual, a Sisyphean figure trapped eternally in a wartime purgatory, sandwiched between the fires below and the hordes of murderous enemies above. Join us, won’t you, as we step into the world of Vlambeer’s 2010 freeware platformer, Super Crate Box…
(Diary of Salvador Crowley, Year Unknown)
I woke up on the girder again. You know the one, propped up on beams and straddling that inexplicable, bottomless furnace. This makes…well, to be honest, I lost count a long time ago. As far as I know, it’s been years since I’ve woken up on anything that wasn’t that girder, on anything warm, or soft, or safe.
The fire is still warm, I can tell you that. I jumped into it again yesterday morning (of course, it’s always light out, so who knows what that word means anymore), to see if it would kill me. No such luck, as usual, only another morning with my face on cold metal. There was that nice moment of empty blackness in between jumping in and waking up where I forgot how to think, but that was mostly the unimaginable pain of burning alive that helped clear my mind. It’s therapeutic, I guess, but it’s not enjoyable.
Today I think I’ll fight for a while, stay sharp, y’know? I’m itching for a good scuffle, besides, and this time I think I can beat my record. Plus, when you fight back, you don’t know when the pain’s gonna come. I still haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or not.
What am I fighting for, anyway? Is it pride? Is it entertainment? Do I still think I can escape? Do I just want to avoid the pain? What is existence without an end?
And for God’s sake, what are they building here?! Seriously, I’ve been jumping around all over these platforms like a drunk monkey for years now and I’ve seen thousands of monsters, but never a single construction worker. This must be quite a blemish on this city, to have towering skyscrapers for blocks and blocks, and then some half-finished framework of a building crawling with beasts and heavy weaponry. If I lived in this city, I’d write a letter to my councilman or something. Lord knows these bazookas aren’t free, and I’m throwing them away left and right like Kodak disposable cameras. If that’s not a misappropriation of taxpayer dollars, I don’t know what is.
And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the questions I have about this place. Like, where are all of these monsters coming from? Obviously, I know they’re dropping down from the opening in the sky, but how are there so many of them? Is there some kind of green beast assembly line feeding them down to me from a breeding farm upstate? And why is it that they can pass through the fire unscathed (empowered by it, in fact) and I can’t even touch the stuff without surrendering to ungodly agony?
What if they’re conscripted infantry? What if, like me, these poor creatures are being bound by forces beyond their control to relive the same inscrutable torment, day after day, year after year, facing inevitable death at the hands of a gun-toting lunatic? What if I, after all of this, I am the monster, the beast that serves as the engine of their eternal Hell?
What if – oh crap, I just shot myself with my own disc gun. That…that’s pretty embarrassing. I uh…you forget how much it hurts to be bisected by a razor-sharp metal disc until it happens to you. It’s really quite a shameful way to go. And…yup, I woke up on the girder again.
If you enjoy Super Crate Box stay tuned to the Pop Modern YouTube channel, where this week I’ll be starting a series of streams of my run-throughs with miscellaneous commentary, called “Super Crate Talks.”