The original The Sims game was inherently dark and kind of creepy.
Is it just me?
When I first bought the game back in 2001, I remember it being addictive, awesome, groundbreaking for its time and wonderfully odd. When compared to the later, sweeter installments, and even its many expansion packs, it feels cold and well…kind of creepy in comparison.
The original How to Play instruction manual for The Sims, which I remember vividly but could never find in my house, was snarky and full of witty commentary. Later on the manual was more straightforward, but still retained some of the self-referential humor that is inherent in the gameplay and is, I think, part of what makes the game kind of unnerving.
(To this day, I wish I could find that damn original manual!)
Just looking at that main screen with that one neighborhood you’re forever attached to as the jaunty background music plays in the ever-sunny world, even that kind of weirds me out.
Maybe it’s the uncanny valley-ness of the dated graphics, maybe it’s remembering the way the kids never aged, how the adults remained awkward and odd and never got any older, and how if the children failed school, they were just sent off to some horrific place only known as “boot camp”…forever. Yes, remember? They NEVER came back.
And when those burglars came stalking in the night and the Buy and Build modes just shut off as that scary, urgent music played and you were left helpless and asleep…
And when the fires started out of nowhere while your Sims made that same plate of salad-looking food and you forgot to install a smoke alarm and you were forced to watch them hopelessly burn to death and run around screaming for their lives…
And in the first expansion pack, Livin’ Large, when that awful Tragic Clown appeared and made it impossible for your Sim to rest or eat until they fell ill and eventually just died unless you put that eerie clown portrait in front of the fireplace…if you even figured that out…
Sure, things got more mellow and felt less odd with later expansion packs, especially when you were given the ability to visit shopping areas like Old Town and other places outside of the claustrophobic little classic neighborhood.
And OK, I’m not saying The Sims is a scary game or even that it freaked me out as a child, but I will always look back on the original as being, well…kinda creepy.