Metagame 1

Triforce

In The Legend of Zelda (1986), there are two locations that explicitly defy the logic of the Cartesian grid: The Lost Woods and The Lost Hills. When traveling through these single-screen mazes, Link finds himself endlessly looping, temporarily arrested by a classic gaming trope. Like Asteroids (1979) and Pac-Man (1980), if the player’s avatar exits the edge of the screen, it seems to appear on the opposite side as if teleported from one side of the screen to the other—a counter rolls over from 255 to 0. The mathematical certainty and programmatic simplicity of The Lost Woods and The Lost Hills generates complex and sometimes paradoxical topologies. Whether the player realizes it or not, each looping space maps not to the flattened grid on which the rest of Hyrule is organized, but instead to the three-dimensional topology of a torus. Triforce is an original piece of software that explores the topology of The Legend of Zelda by visualizing the 8-bit game in three dimensions (see Figure 1.10). To download Triforce, go to http://manifold.umn.edu/triforce.

Figure 1.10. Triforce is an original metagame by Patrick LeMieux and Stephanie Boluk that maps the two-dimensional spaces of Hyrule onto three-dimensional topologies.

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