Backlog: Thanksgiving Edition

The holidays in the Northwest are a crapshoot. Most of the time you’ll be stuck with constant rainfall or the occasional storm, but once in a while luck is on your side. This Thanksgiving looks like it’ll be one of the nicest ones I’ve ever seen: beautiful blue skies and highs in the mid-50s.

It’s another thing to be thankful for in a year that’s had its fair share of ups and downs for all of us.

Many of you know that I recently left my job to follow my dreams (man, that’ll always sound trite to me) of making games for a living. While I’d always known this would be the path I’d follow at some point, I wasn’t sure on the timing of the transition until it was already happening. It’s been a tumultuous and challenging but deeply rewarding couple of months ever since: I relocated across the country, found a new place to live in a pretty great city and am well on my way to taking the next step in my career.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year: to my friends and former coworkers who coached me through a really difficult point in my life; to my family who supported their crazy son’s irrational ambition to pursue his dreams; to my girlfriend who, at the drop of a hat, said “sure, let’s move across the country.” But I’m also deeply thankful for the people who make this blog happen. Not just our excellent staff, whom I’m proud to call friends and colleagues, but to you who’s reading this post.

In just a few weeks, we’ll arrive at the fifth anniversary of Silicon Sasquatch. When I look back at how much we’ve done in that amount of time — the hundreds of articles, dozens of podcasts and countless hours we’ve sunk into this project — it’s staggering to consider. What’s even more surprising to me is how much I’ve changed as a person in that time, and it’s due in no small part to the experiences I’ve had with this blog.

I hope we say this often enough, but since today’s an appropriate day for it: thank you for reading and for your continued support over the years.  — Nick Cummings

Nick

I don’t have a whole lot to add this week, but I will say that Super Mario 3D Land is a hell of a game to play with family. My girlfriend and I have been playing through the game cooperatively over the last week, but since my brother was in town for the holidays we decided to see what the game’s like with more than two people playing at once.

It’s a total mess — albeit a fun, wild, unpredictable mess. Strategy largely flies out the window when you’re just struggling to keep your eyes on the right character, and by the end of a level we’ve usually burned through a handful of lives just to keep going. Still, Nintendo’s the reigning king of local multiplayer, and we’re having a blast with what the latest Mario game has to offer. But when we’re interested in making some real progress in the game, we’ll have to drop it back down to two players at most.

I’ve also been burning through The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. What can I say? A Link to the Past has a very special place in my heart as the last Zelda game I played with my dad and the first I finished on my own, and A Link Between Worlds is a more sincere tribute to that game’s legacy than I’d dared hope for. It’s an excellent game in its own right, but so much of my enjoyment is coming from nostalgia that I can’t help but wonder if I’d ever be able to evaluate the game objectively.

Spencer

Remember, we will.

Remember, we will.

My trip through Half-Life 2 continues, as do rounds of Battlefield 4. However, distractions have arisen, and one is System Shock 2.

It’s a great shame of mine that I never finished SS2 when it was new, back when I was in middle school. Memory had long since faded, but a recent selection of mods (as found on Reddit) prompted me to reinstall the game and begin playing through again.

I’d forgotten just how much BioShock drew from System Shock 2; many of the sound effects are effectively the same, and the mechanics of security systems are pretty well identical. The predecessor, however, is much more difficult than its first person shooter offspring -- already, I feel like I’ve horribly mangled my skill distribution, and I’m only as far as the medical bay. But it’s moody, atmospheric, and tension-inducing, and the mods have nicely spruced up the look and handling of the game so it’s not too jarringly antiquated. Definitely worth playing, even now.

My Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are about to be occupied with an event called FreeLANcer, a title cribbed from the 2003 space simulator. It’d be easy for me to claim that it’s just a holiday weekend spent playing the decade-old Freelancer, and leave it at that. The truth, however, is much more complex and troubling.

FreeLANcer features a drinking metagame; players take drinks from the “shots-go-round,” then receive random in-game bonuses or detriments. (Examples: one might find their weapons upgraded, their shields gone, their reputation with a faction improved, or their cargo hold full of illegal substances, among other effects.) There’s a bounty board where players can put out hits on one another anonymously -- illustrating the grudges the game will invariably create. I’m also told to expect a full second-Thanksgiving dinner, and there’re rumors of decorations that make the place look like a bar from the game. Simply put, the organizer’s dedication is remarkable, and it’s going to make for a fun weekend.

Also I’ve been playing Robot Unicorn Attack 2 whenever I’m on the can. Don’t you judge me, Chad.

Brit

A friend and I are in a race: Whoever completes the BioShock franchise first will receive glory, honor, and the title of Ultimate Fangirl. This week, I drew closer to becoming the winner of that race after finally starting BioShock 2.

It’s been interesting, to say the least. It’s pretty frickin’ surreal to play as a Big Daddy, and I have to say that I love being huge and heavy. All the better to slam you with, my dear. But even so, I’m eager than ever for The Moment. You know The Moment: the instant someone scares your Little Sister and you pounce on them with an angry “Get away from her! Feel the wrath of my drill! WHERE’S SCARECROW?”

Aside from repeatedly killing fools with a drill, I’ve also realized that I likely won’t be purchasing a next-gen console for a very long time. I’m not convinced by the Wii U, the PS4 looks great but cost is still prohibitive, and Microsoft clearly isn’t interested in having someone like me be one of their gamers. Hopefully this won’t prohibit my ultimate growth as a gamer (throw me the PC reviews, boys!), but even so, it’s a disturbing thought. The only thing giving me hope right now as a gamer is the fact that there’ve been TWO women in a game commercial that remotely resemble kick-ass female gamers (that aren’t Megan Fox look-alikes who stay out of danger). It was for a Taco Bell giveaway commercial, pictured above.

I would love to be in a game commercial. The people in them wear great costumes and the sets are probably insane (or a green screen, which is cool). And you just get to be on set and pretend to be an NPC. With a gun. Or a fast car. Or following behind a little guy made of relics.

But what would the plot of this commercial be? Probably racing along a track in fast cars, winning against dudes, and pulling off my racing helmet in a final gender reveal. Which is awful, of course. I want to be in a Dark Souls II commercial, wielding a halberd and slaying mofos for souls. Then a slow pull-in to my my face, wherein I guide the souls toward me like a cloud of perfume. Just the sweet smell of victory, fueled by the same happiness that makes me kill fools with a drill.