The Mythology Behind La Mulana’s Bosses #6: Palenque

La Mulana‘s bosses draw from a variety of sources. None so much are the product of wild theories, corrupted tales, and a bit of fun as La Mulana’s sixth guardian. Today we’re looking at why this boss fight is a side-scrolling shooter level in a Metroidvania puzzle game.

Palenque:

“Space travelers in the gray mists of time? An inadmissible question to academic scientists. Anyone who asks questions like that ought to see a psychiatrist.”
― Erich von Däniken, Chariots of the Gods

Palenque

Palenque in La Mulana.

Image Source: The La Mulana Remake Wiki

The elephant in the room for Palenque’s boss fight is “Why is Palenque a Geiger-esque alien space ship pilot?” It’s quite a question, but one which is imminently explainable, so let’s start with why Palenque isn’t “Palenque.”

Palenque is not a person, it’s a Maya city-state renowned for its bas relief carvings.

Palenque in real life. It's notably larger.

Palenque in real life. Unlike Amphisbaena, it’s notably larger.

Image Source: Wikipedia

What the game calls Palenque is actually a king named Pacal. We know this because one of the most famous reliefs found inside Palenque is carved into king Pacal’s tomb. It looks like this.

Pacal on a tomb in Palenque

Pacal pictured on a tomb in Palenque.

 Image Source: Wikipedia

This design was enough to intrigue the more excitable brains in the Western hemisphere. What many saw in this carving was an ancient man in space ship and they could not be convinced otherwise. It’s known in most circles as the “Palenque Astronaut” and there are many books and documentaries about it if you are the kind who “wants to believe.”

So now where did the H.R. Giger influence come from? A spaceship shooter franchise with some of the best boss designs you’ll ever see in 16 bits: R-Type!
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Image Source: R-Type II, Android version pictured.

A futuristic shooter, an ancient carving, and a conspiracy theory have all combined to bring you a boss fight against the revered Palenque Astronaut in the depths of the La Mulana ruins. It’s not based off of a deity this time, but the legend of an ancient spaceman is still an interesting one. But is it really just a legend?

… Yeah, probably.