Night of the Haunted Backlog
Halloween night has passed. Gone are the malevolent spirits, exhausted from their visit to the ephemeral playground the Living World opens for them. Or are they?
While October 31st lurks in our past, not all doors to the other world are closed, for wherever shadow exists, evil awaits, ready to invade. It might be November, but are you retrogamers really safe?
Let me tell you a story about my friend Philémon. Like you and me, Philémon was an avid retrogamer. As he came home from a long day at work, he was confronted to the same dilemma we all face: “Do I work on creating some marvelous content to share with an awesome community or do I let myself enjoy some video games?”
Deciding on the latter, he booted up his computer, hoping to start up a good old retro-inspired indie game, not that his old laptop could run anything better. “This is going to be a fun night, I can feel it!” he told himself, unaware of the nefarious storm brewing in his apartment.
It all started when Steam crashed… Everything starts with Steam crashing, though in the naive eyes of Philémon, this was only a minor setback. Dissapointed he couldn’t play his game of choice, he headed to GOG.com to tackle an old Sierra point-and-click game. While in the kitchen to get a healthy glass of maple syrup flavored Mountain Dew, Philémon heard a loud noise coming from his room. Startled, he rushed back and was greeted with a faint blue light.
A FATAL ERROR OCCURRED
“Oh well, guess it wasn’t my lucky night after all.” he mumbled, not taking heed to the warning Faith had shown him. It’s as if the games themselves were trying to save him, but their power was fading with every dismissed forewarning. Not one to give up on his gaming night easily, Philémon booted his PS3 hoping to download a PSOne classic to fill his night. Unsurprisingly, PSN network was down. While some would have considered this an ominous message, for Philémon, “it was Tuesday”. However, he was less amused when he lost his Wi-Fi signal trying to update the eShop on his 3DS.
“Screw this digital era! More reliable? Don’t make me laugh! I’ll be better off with my good old cartridges!”
Did these words unleash the spirits of the past? They did send chills down the spines of people all the way in Ontario, Canada. While the rest of the world felt the impact of his actions, those thoughts remained far from his mind as he made his way to the basement, hoping to get his hands on recent flea market purchases.
“Of course, the lights are out. Just my luck. I’m beginning to think this is a horrible night to have a curse.” he babbled, sad he couldn’t impress his friends by posting this witty comment on Twitter. Slightly disappointed, he used his cell phone flashlight to light his path. Through the moving shadows of unknown objects, he scurried to the plastic bin containing his latest purchases. Trying to defy faith, he grabbed the old Castlevania cart some weird reseller was calling “haunted”, confident he’d prove to himself that the recent events were isolated occurrences. But, why did he need to prove anything? What was he scared of? Ghosts? Ghosts in games? While his reason couldn’t begin to believe this nonsense, his mind concentrated on the creaking noise under him. Back in his room, the only sound that could be heard was static… Did he really turn on the TV before going downstairs?
Trying not to think too hard about it, he went back upstairs and inserted the cartridge in his NES. As expected, the game couldn’t turn on on the first try, could it? This time, however, it was different. The static in the TV, the words appearing in the glitched NES game screen… something was off.
“This can’t be happening!” – Philémon yelled. “I refuse to believe I’m cursed. This is stupid! I’m gonna play some Pokémon, nothing bad can happen with Pokémon, right?” Or so he thought… As he inserted the cart in his Game Boy SP, the malevolent spirits, the evil presence, the stranded and vengeful souls that had tormented him through the night finally manifested themselves.
No one heard about Philémon since. Some say he went mad and never touched a video game again. Some say he disappeared with his Pokémon save file. Others say he just changed his name because Philémon is a very very weird name. In any case, I hope you won’t “retrogame” in the dark again. I know I won’t.
See you in two weeks! For those who will still be alive then…