But before you reach Fourside, your bus hits bumper to bumper traffic in Dusty Dunes Desert.
Most people hate Dusty Dunes Desert because, as video gamers, they know there’s some way to trigger the traffic jam to end. The most logical thing to do would be to let time pass by and go to sleep – the old drug store nearby will let you sleep on the floor for a fee.
But when you wake up, the traffic jam is still there! It’s a forever jam!
So clearly there’s something you’re meant to see or do somewhere in the vastness of the desert. So it’s time to strike out.
If you click up on that image provided by Starmen.net, I can give you a little tour.
Above the drugstore, there’s a shady guy who sells weaponry. Clearly some ex-CIA guy or something hawking confiscated goods. I think it’s a pretty clever way of providing Jeff with firearms and explosives.
Above that guy, there is a hole in the ground. A monkey sage lives there, clearly some kind of parallel to the dalai lama or the Saiyuki legend. He doesn’t do much, yet.
At the top left of the desert, beside the water and the present with the Cup of lifenoodles (very valuable, the first item capable of reviving fallen characters), there is a single black pixel – this is a talking sesame seed. It will express its desire to see the white sesame seed again, to apologize for some unnamed wrong in the past.
The white sesame lies directly southeast, past the oasis with the present containing a Skip sandwich DX, by the impenetrable bank of rocks by the highway. It stresses the fact that it still loves the white sesame seed. If you go back to talk to the black sesame seed, it barely believes that the white sesame seed still loves it, and cries (actually its says, “Weep, weep…”)
I have to stop right here to talk about this.
What I love about the sesame seeds is how easy it is, because they’re so small and featureless, to consider them as a microcosm for the complexity of human relationship.
Consider how gender neutral they are, even thought the black one is called “he” and the white one “she”. It’s easy to assume that the black sesame seed is male – black being the “bolder” color, and males usually being the gender that has to apologize for past transgressions.
And yet, when you deliver the white sesame’s message of love back to the black sesame, it weeps in an open show of emotion.
It’s also possible that you might find the white sesame first, in which case you would deliver the black sesame’s message back to the white one. The white sesame, after finding out the black sesame is okay, says, stoically, “…Hmm, I see.”
We never find out what went on between them, how they truly feel about each other presently, or what will happen to them in the future. Despite their size, we are not given the option to physically reunite them. They stay where they are, destined to drift on the grains of desert sand like ships at sea.
Ships in the night. Sesame seeds in the desert.
This is the boldest depiction of romantic love in Earthbound, and the dangers thereof. Like many serious things in this game, it is swathed in absurdity.
Itoi, you will find, is very good as concealing crises within silliness, making you forget how dire a situation may actually be, and then suddenly, when you least expect it, make you realize the gravity of everything all at once.
These sesame seeds are like a magic trick. There’s a pledge and a turn, but there is no prestige. It’s too early for that yet.
Where were we? Oh yeah. Northeast of the last oasis, near the present with the Double burger in it, is a Contact lens. I’ll tell you now that there is a man in Fourside who is missing this Contact lens. If you return it to him, he’ll reward you with a single, consumable, combat item: a pair of stinky socks, which will stun an enemy for one turn in battle.
South by southeast of the Contact lens, you’ll find a shack acting as the HQ for a pair of miners, the Geldegarde brothers. They haven’t found anything yet. Funnily enough, they’ll let you sleep on their busted couch for free. Beats paying for the wooden floor at the drug store!
One of the miners will ask you for something to eat. Be kind. Once you give it to him and spend the night in their shack, the traffic jam will be gone.
If you head east around the rock bank and then south, you’ll end up back on the road. (PROTIP: You can get suntroke in the desert if you spend too much time out there, but you can’t get sunstroke on the road!) If you follow the road west, you’ll come across a broken slot machine. However, if you want to play slots anyway, the three guys dressed as mariachis will spins in circles for you, simulating the actual game.
I’ve spent a lot of money here and only won once. I won a can of fruit juice. Evidently you can win a PSI caramel, which is pretty good, but not worth the time, honestly.
Not much further west of the three amigos, there is a present with a thousand dollars inside.
There are great items throughout the desert, including a Big bottle rocket and a Sudden guts pill. There are also two piles of bleach buffalo bones, one which says,
(…I’m just a pile of bleached bones. I can’t talk.)
And another which says,
(Even though I’m just a pile of bones, I can talk and I’m lonely out here in the desert.)
So I don’t get it! Look at all of these things I pointed out, all in one area, without transitions. Why do you guys hate Dusty Dunes Desert?
Oh, well, it could be all of the baddies. They’re really tough around here. They do a lot of damage, and some even poison you!
But the rewards are so worth it! Not only will you get a lot of neat items and experience points, you’ll get a lot of experience. The sesame seeds are worth the price of admission alone!
Though if you ARE having a tough time, and you wanna level up quickly,
look for this fucker:
If you find him, he will give you ten times the experience you would get in any given battle. He’s very elusive, but if you get the drop on him, you’ll kill him instantly. Here’s one way to do it.
Once the traffic jam has dispersed, you’re free to take the bus (or walk, actually, though it takes a while) to Fourside.
But don’t get too comfy.