This month, we were able to step back into Moto’s Super Adventure Box for the first time in the two and a half years since it was last open to the public. On returning to the Box, however, features that once appeared innocent now take a more ominous aspect when viewed through the prism of our recent return from the dangers of the Heart of Maguuma. Did Moto know more than he let on about the contents of the western Maguuma? Is there another ulterior motive behind the Box besides hypnotising players to sabotage the work of his former krewe? And could the Super Adventure Box contain hints as to where Moto would like us to go next?
Players initially step into a verdant, sunny glade, as may be found in multiple locations in Kryta or the eastern Maguuma. As the journey continues, however, striking resemblances to the western jungle become clear.
On completing the first stage, players find themselves among the blocky roots of a dark wood, which can only be navigated by jumping onto elastic mushrooms to launch the player into the canopy above. Adventurers and Pact soldiers returning from the campaign against Mordremoth will surely recall the bouncing mushrooms that grow there, commonly used to reach high places that cannot be reached by ordinary means, or simply as a shortcut.
This forest soon gives way to the tangled depths of a dank swamp, a locale possibly inspired by the Maguuma Jungle’s understory. Here the water changes from a clear blue to a poisoned green. Before long, the player encounters sticky vines and giant flytraps that entangle the unwary, leading up to an encounter with a giant King Toad that fights by catching the player with a lashing tongue and pounding the ground with its weight.
Moto claims that his device is purely educational, but who is he trying to teach? Jumping off bouncing mushrooms, clearing grasping vines, and dodging the lashing tongues of giant frogs would contribute little to the standard curriculum of asuran progeny. Instead, they seem perfectly suited for adventurers preparing an expedition into the dangers of the Maguuma Jungle. If, that is, one was to assume that the main threat was going to come from the Nuhoch. What does Moto have against them?
While many of the Itzel and Nuhoch allied with the Pact, the Coztic and Xocotl tribes remained hostile. Could Moto have been part of an expedition into the jungle that was routed by an aggressive band of Nuhoch? Given the blunt maliciousness of King Toad in the Super Adventure Box, it seems that Moto may have run afoul of the local chieftain. Perhaps the real “King Toad” also presented an insurmountable obstacle for Moto. Alternatively, the throwing of gems at King Toad suggests the importance of bartering and the need to bring valuables along with us if we were to ever follow Moto into the jungle.
But what are we to make of the second world? With its ornate buildings and rampant assassins it resembles the environs of our long-lost Cantha. Towering cliffs and snowfields may appear at first to be the environs of the Shiverpeaks. However, snowfields and perilous mountain passes were also a feature of Shing Jea Island, home of Shing Jea Monastery and a training ground for young acolytes. Is it possible that Moto has been to Cantha? Or has he merely read about it in the Priory Archives?
Like Shing Jea, World Two’s trials take place in a varied environment meant to prepare the player for further exploration and greater challenges. This world begins with towering cliffs and rushing rapids, not unlike areas of Shing Jea. Most telling, of course, is the architecture found in Moto’s second zone. With its red beams, tiled roofs, and tatami flooring, areas of the second world are close approximations of the palaces, halls, and dojos of Cantha and the Battle Islands.
Additionally, could the creatures of Cantha have also been included in the Super Adventure Box? Just as the Nuhoch appear, so too do assassins and yetis.
Beyond this Cantha-esque beginning, the World’s path continues in parallel,taking the players higher into the mountain peaks, through clouds, ice and vicious yetis to the very top of the granite-grey summit. There, they fight the Storm Wizard, which initially confronts the player as an aged human until he reveals his true form – that of a serpentine dragon!
Given the winged wyverns and dragon champions of Tyria, however, it is particularly telling that Moto has chosen to represent this dragon as a coiling serpent without wings. While none of the Canthan dragons known from Factions have this morphology, it is a common representation in Canthan architecture, with a few examples surviving in the Western Commons of Divinity’s Reach. This suggests that Moto has certainly drawn from stories of Cantha for his inspiration.
But what is the motive for his interest? The second world of the Super Adventure Box was created after Zhaitan’s death but before Scarlet’s plots really started to bite, when an expedition to Cantha might have been something Tyria’s leaders were considering. Last we heard, however, Cantha was a land of human xenophobia that would not be welcoming to asura. Could the purpose of the second world be to warn of the potential dangers that may be encountered on the southern continent… or possibly even training to prepare for a war there? Could the battle with the Storm Wizard be a metaphor for an ambition on Moto’s part to depose the Dragon Emperor of Cantha?
This, in turn, raises the question: Why reopen the Box now, after the death of Mordremoth? And why is it that, after two years have passed, all Moto seems to have done is made a few tweaks to the second world, without spending that time working towards completing the adventure to defeat Lord Vanquish that is ostensibly the plot of the Box?
Perhaps the answer is this: The destruction of Lion’s Arch and the rise of Mordremoth essentially put Moto’s plans on hold… at least for the time being. With a new Elder Dragon rising in the Maguuma, he may have considered an expedition back into the jungle to be out of the question, and the destruction of Tyria’s main port could have made a long sea voyage impractical. Now, however, with Mordremoth defeated and Lion’s Arch rebuilt, he might consider it time to set his plans back on track. On reopening the box, the apparently prophetic features of World One showcase how his Box can be used to prepare for the unique challenges of an unfamiliar terrain, while World Two encourages players to prepare for an expedition to Cantha. Perhaps the reason that Moto has refrained from implementing the next world is that he wants his players to remain focused on the second until his plans for Cantha have been resolved?
Whatever his plans, unless the laws of nature have changed in Cantha since our last visit, I would not recommend jumping onto any clouds without a glider. Unless, once again, it turns out that Moto knows more than he lets on.