Waterfalls in video games and the strange behavior they cause in players
Waterfalls, mysterious and captivating to begin with, are a sight one can frequently encounter on the game field, and over the years, they seem to have become almost a standard spot for hiding valuable secrets of games. A Japanese mangaka recently shared a short comic on their X/Twitter account, in which they relay their experience with waterfalls in video games. The comic soon went viral as the relatable story resonated with an overwhelming number of users, who could all identify with what the author refers to as “being under the curse of waterfalls.”
In the short comic by @natsumemori, a character playing video games can be seen hurtling their character at every waterfall they encounter in-game, almost as if trying to enter them. When asked why they feel the need crash their body into each and every waterfall they come across they reply, “If you experience discovering a hidden passage behind a waterfall even once, the curse of feeling uneasy until you’ve tried charging at every waterfall will befall you.”
Indeed, among the various elements that appear in the game field, waterfalls seem to be one of the favorite spots to hide secret passages, special places, items, treasures and similar. The eureka moment one experiences when discovering a game’s valuable secret behind what seems to be just another part of the landscape for the first time is so bewildering (and satisfying) that one keeps expecting it to happen when they come across waterfalls. However, this leads to the curious behavior of vigorously body-slamming unsuspecting parts of the landscape, which, when viewed from a non-gamer’s perspective, must seem quite insane. On the other hand, potentially not checking out the back of a waterfall in-game leaves the possibility of missing out on something of critical importance, why is way too anxiety-inducing.
There really is no such thing as a unique experience, is what many must have thought as over 25k users gathered in agreement around the aforementioned comic, one user commenting, “I relate to this to a maddening extent! Most of the time there’s nothing there and it just ends up a fruitless effort, and sometimes when I try too hard to look around at weird angles, I end up seeing the shabby waterfall polygons and get disappointed.”
The topic also caused many to reminisce about the most iconic video game waterfall moments they’ve experienced, with The Legend of Zelda series understandably being the most popular example. In particular, the 1991 title, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, seems to be where a lot of players first learned to suspect waterfalls, keeping their eyes peeled for cracks that can be used to break down walls. For Zelda, the waterfall-surprise tradition never stopped, with Breath of The Wild and Tears of the Kingdom also rewarding players with the habit of investigating vertical currents of water with hidden Shrines and similar.
Another series many users immediately thought of was Final Fantasy, with the initial titles of the series in particular including a lot of thrilling waterfall investigation. On the other hand, a particularly bitter waterfall memory for some was the waterfall in Earthbound, which hid behind it an item necessary to proceed in the game, but was only accessible after clearing the tricky gimmick of keeping idle for three real-time minutes after being asked to provide a password.
Players also gave examples of other actions they cannot go without performing in-game if they want to preserve their peace of mind, such as – charging at walls, breaking all breakable objects, checking both paths of forked roads, opening all chests, trying to push any boulder they see, stepping on any differently colored piece of the ground and many more, all weighing down on players with the power of a curse. Although, at the same time, this curse also brings the reward of sweet satisfaction once you discover a great secret. Perhaps the balance of making players feel like they’re tinfoiling only to reward them with their “I knew it” moment is what made some of the games mentioned so memorable for the community.