A few years ago, when internet list articles were all the rage and we were cranking them out on a regular basis, I jokingly said I could write one about any topic out there. “Top 7 Trees? Let’s do this!” was my ridiculous example (little did I know I’d write about far more absurd things down the line). But now, after years of unchecked list article growth, I think even this aggressively uninteresting topic has been covered to death, resulting in a tangled bramble of morning wood puns.
Yet no one covered Wild Woody, who is literally a walking boner joke
And sadly, other than a shoehorned Wild Woody reference, I barely have anything to add to this conversation. But Chris and I started talking about possible Laser Time content and I said, “Hey, I could finally write that tree thing.” And here it is. Will the four year wait be worth it? Probably not!
10 – BIG ASS BORING TREE (Wizards & Warriors)
We recently discussed the long-dead Wizards & Warriors series in VGMpire, and even during a podcast solely about music I couldn’t help but talk about the seemingly endless trees that clutter the game’s opening level. You enter through a Keebler-elf-sized door and then proceed to leap from one impossibly tiny platform to the next, always fearful of falGOD DAMN IT BEES NOW I HAVE TO CLIMB UP THE WHOLE THING AGAIN!
From the outside, they appear as any ol’ tree might – brown, some branches, presumably some leaves if you make it high enough. But getting high enough to enjoy these alleged leaves takes such persistence, such determination, that the tree becomes some kind of pre-Dark-Souls exercise in punishing futility. And for this, they transcend run of the mill (HA!) trees and become something much more sinister.
9 – ENDING TREE (Dr Mario)
Let’s move on to an otherwise common tree that manages to stand apart. While playing pharmacy-em-up Dr Mario on medium or hard difficulty, you’re treated to a handful of quick cutscenes that show the three viruses chillin’ on top of a tree. These interstitials get progressively weirder as the levels pile on, but the final one is a doozy:
They were aliens rescued by the Close Encounters ship, I guess?
So it would seem the Dr Mario viruses were simply extraterrestrials trying to get home? And the game is about systematically killing them all in some kind of microscopic genocide? Oh right, the tree – well it’s just a tree, but you see it so often I feel it’s worthy of representing all non-sentient, non life-giving video game trees. Plus it made Carolyn cry when she saw her mom beat the game for the first time – the peaceful little guys finally got to go home!
8 – THE LIVING FOREST (Mortal Kombat II)
Ah, at last – our first treeture (aka tree creature, TM Brett Elston age 12). It’s amazing what this simple, barely animated background achieved – with just a basic facial expression, we assume these woods are deeply threatening, and therefor the whole of Outworld must be similarly twisted. We now “know” a great deal about the world of Mortal Kombat, just by observing the nightmarish location of the battles. In reality, all the devs did was make a tree with a face on it, something taken right from The Wizard of Oz, and we interpreted it as a presumably menacing enemy that set the tone for the entire series.
As iconic trees go, this really is near the top of the list. Just about anyone who’s played a game in the past 20 years (or maybe not even that) could identify, generally, from where these trees came. But as a tree tree, eeeeeh they just kinda sit there and don’t really impede or aid you in any way. Like most real world trees, they’re just kinda… there.