A Tale of Two Scanlines: Chapter 1

Sims is one of the most disproportionately undercovered series. It’s a big franchise with a wealth of entries and expansions, yet games crit rarely mentions it. It’s with a mind to explore this little-documented territory that Jen and Six set forth on a journey. Six, a longtime series fan, and Jen, a dabbler in Simdom, both set out with the same starting point: the same family of Sims. Sans Undertale, Chipp Zanuff, Guzma Skull, 2B Yorha, Shiva FFX, Koopa Hime (aka Bowsette), and probably someone i’m forgetting will experience two parallel realities. One, the world of Jen: relatively few expansions, starting in a penthouse apartment downtown. The other, the world of Six: an elaborate French manor in a neighborhood of vampires.

From these beginnings will they branch out, changing as they live, love, and perhaps even die. This is Parallel Lines.

Jennifer:

Even though I’m not a newcomer to The Sims (I spent time with 2, 3, even the objective-based PS2 game in the past), it certainly feels that way every time I come back to the series. There are stats to maintain, jobs to master and bigger houses to buy, but after a few hours, I’ve always been left with the same question: what am I *supposed* to be doing? I spent time searching for a greater meaning, an ultimate objective I should be striving for, but I was left without a satisfactory answer.

It wasn’t until I spent time talking with Six that I realized my approach was all wrong. It’s true that The Sims has milestones you can shoot for, though that’s all superfluous in face of its true purpose: you throw a bunch of computer people in the same dwelling, add a few complications here and there, and watch what happens. With that in mind, I took the family Six provided me for this feature, put them in the most spacious penthouse I could find (thanks, cheat codes), added a few more beds so everyone had a place to sleep, then sat back and watched.

…or at least, that was the plan. As it turns out, your Sims aren’t the best at divining your intentions and do whatever they please, even if it seems remarkably uncomfortable. Despite my impressive cluster of beds, Koopa Hime decided she’d rather catch some Z’s on a couch, all while Chipp Zanuff was loudly playing video games on the cushion next to her. Sans would stop by the bar to mix a drink, jog past the nearby stools, then sit on a bookcase the next room over. Dirty dishes would make their way from the kitchen to the sink of a nearby bathroom, and 2B preferred to watch TV by standing up straight and craning her neck for hours at a time. If these Sims didn’t have my guiding hand in their lives, they’d be an utter mess. If I wanted these strangers to work as a family, I had to dust off my mouse and get to work.

I started by adding a cat to their lives. Sure, Amber happened to be a ghost cat, but I figured that would just make it easier to manage! Much to my dismay, ghost cats need to eat, shit and play like every other animal, and it wasn’t long before Amber started vomiting near the rest of the family and eating their bacon and eggs. Thankfully, Koopa Hime was ready and willing to scold her for jumping on the counters, but that shared breakfast still had an Amber-sized hole.

Surprisingly, Sans quickly took on the most active role in the Scanline crew. His Entertainment job was a perfect fit: vampires are creatures of the night, so naturally, doing stand-up comedy or late-night theatre wouldn’t attract too much unwanted attention. He’s really making a name for himself, practicing his routine on the rest of the family before giving it his all in the evenings. Hopefully, Sans’ growing stardom doesn’t complicate his evening feasts at fitness clubs: it’d be a bad look if someone happened to catch him sating his bloodthirst out in public! (Weirdly enough, the rest of the family only reacts with disgust, which seems like a tame response.)

I still need some time before I get a feel for the rest of the family, but I think I finally understand The Sims. If you go in expecting to complete objectives or find the “real” goal of the life sim, you’ll come out disappointed. It’s better to treat it like an interactive toybox, poking and prodding until something interesting happens. Six probably has great ambitions for ver sims, but I’m just hoping that this penthouse can survive for another two weeks.

Six:

Penthouses. They’re nice, I suppose. For sure, the Sims by default has some decent quality homes. But If I’m gonna go all the way with a family of video game stars, we gotta treat them right, wouldn’t you say?

THERE we go. A user-created mansion, Château de la Chênaie by robinou2468118. It’s perhaps a bit overly furnished, with expensive art and museum-quality artifacts adorning every nook and cranny, but we can sell those off one by one as needed. I’ve never been a fan of an overly cluttered home. At the very least, it provides every opportunity to inspire its occupants, and the first to fall under its artistic thrall is Chipp Zanuff. Not content with the titles of Ninja and President, he quickly demonstrates a passion for culture as well, as he takes up not only painting, but bonsai trimming. Perhaps I should have expected bonsais from a ninja, but his painterly instincts caught me rather flat-footed. And he’s… pretty good, too?!

Up in the corner there, you can see a little notification about Sans: don’t worry, we’ll get to what he’s been up to in a bit. The easiest update is perhaps Koopa Hime, aka Bowsette: the house may be magnificent, but it’s certainly short on minions to command. In lieu of followers the koopa regent seems a bit lethargic: she’s watching TV and pranking her roommates, but seems unmotivated and directionless. Perhaps we’ll have to fix that in the near future….

With two Sims being… sorry, kinda unemployed bums, the other four took it upon themselves to find a source of income for the house. 2B fell into work with a spy agency like gravity, which is both fitting and a bit upsetting, but there you go. I didn’t really know what to do with Shiva, but then I found myself unable to dislodge her from Twitter? So now she’s a Social Media Manager? Again, a bit distressing to think of her running the Sims Wendy’s Twitter, but she seems to enjoy her job, and I guess that’s what’s important. Far be it for me to tell people what their dreams should be.

Sans, though… Sans was a tricky one. It’s not that he was lackadaisical. No, if anything, the problem was getting him to chill the hell out.

Mixing drinks. Jamming on guitar. Dancing (and convincing roommates to dance with him in their underwear). Sans’s vampire blood allowed him to be Too Much at all hours of every day, an unstoppable machine of positive energy. He didn’t sleep. He didn’t EAT. He just tried to play guitar along with a jukebox and forced drinks he’d made into the hands of confused roommates. RIP 2B, seen here trying desperately to keep up with the pace at which Sans has been mixing drinks.

Note the yellow icon in the bottom right: she’s hungry. She wants FOOD. But she also feels responsible for avoiding waste in a household whose budget is already precarious, so she is nobly trying to keep up with Sans’s avalanche of spirits.

Clearly, this could not continue. Sans needed a more productive outlet for all his energy. Guzma, on the other hand, was spending all day on Reddit, and needed something to do with his life. So Sans went to Guzma, and together they came up with a brilliant venture. Combining Sans’s passion for music and alcohol with Guzma’s… uh… willingness to be present, they went out and bought a plot of land. Then they began construction of their great project. And thanks to the magic of the Sims, it took less than an hour to produce their joint venture.

Friends and folks, I present the coolest new jazz bar/restaurant in town, the Skull and Crossfade. Based on Ahora’s Jazz Bar by kcoulthart.

Sans took care of manning the bar, or occasionally the piano if the bar was empty. Guzma made like a celebrity restaurateur, walking around making sure customers are enjoying themselves. Between their combined efforts, the business took off with a bang, and quickly became the hottest hangout in town. This could be because there were no other hangouts in town, but let’s not dwell on that.

I can’t tell if this is truly a cause for celebration. Sans keeps mesmerizing the head chef at closing and drinking her blood, which is problematic especially because she seems weirdly into it. I’m also very unsure if Guzma’s friendliness towards customers is a genuine pleasure at doing something productive, or an increasingly stoic mask on a bitterness lying beneath the surface. But, uh… people seem to like the place, so I guess it’s ok? Review us on Yelp, I guess.

Since starting this project, The Sims: Get Famous has come out, and I held off using any of its content until this piece was done… but now that it is, I think it’s time to roll out the red carpet. If you ask me, Nintendo’s Bowsette denial is a crime, and the reptilian princess deserves all the fame in the world. Maybe it’s time to make her an A-lister. We’ll see you next time.