Today's gaming post isn't about a game, it's about a book, "Attack of the Bacon Robots" in particular by the fine fellows over at Penny Arcade. Seeing how this book would be of interest to pretty much only gamers, I figured it was OK to post about on this, the hallowed Day of Gaming Posts.
The book covers the first 2 years of Penny Arcade strips, complete with commentary on each strip from Tycho. Note that these aren't the posts you're used to getting with the strips now, but thoughts on the strips themselves, provided they can remember what was going on when they created them. Most of the time they can remember, but when they can't, the commentary is pretty damn funny, and honest too. There are several strips where you can tell they're thinking "What the hell were we doing here", primarily because the commentary is something like "We don't know what the hell we were doing here". The majority of strips with unknown origins seem to center around feuds with other sites, an interesting point when you consider that, at the time, I'm sure that the feud was a big deal. Most of those sites aren't even around any more which should give you some perspective the next time you get in a flame war with HamsterLove.com.
The art isn't anything spectacular, said by the guy who's entire artistical talents lie in the ability to draw cartoon alligators and dinosaurs recognizeable only to a 3 year old who has seen neither. In the context of the Gabe's current work, it's impressive to see how his art has evolved, and the characters along with them. The strips towards the end of the book have a very odd thick black line outlining the major characters which, for some reason, reminds me of ShrinyDinks. That being said, a set of Penny Arcade ShrinkyDinks would make for a most awesome mobile. The writing is what we've come to expect, with some laugh out loud strips and some strips that tried just a wee bit too hard.
The best part of the book is how it acts as a walk down memory lane of video gaming in all of it's myriad forms. The strips cover events from 1999 - 2000, most of which I had forgotten about completely. I had just gotten into PC gaming in earnest only a year or so before that, so much of what they're talking about, I remember reading about. All of the console material is lost on me as I didn't start gaming on consoles until the Cube came out, but sadly most of what they're making fun of in regards to the consoles still applies today, so I wasn't completely confused.
It's amazing to me to be able to look back on how gaming was just 5-6 years ago and see how quickly things have moved along. 6 years ago, you didn't actually need a 3D accelerator card. Today that shit comes standard on the motherboard. I remember buying my first 3d card (a 3dfx card I'm sure), installing it, booting it up, playing Wing Commander Prophecy and not noticing one goddamned lick of difference. Glide my ass. Fast forward a year or so and I'm trying to convince my wife that I have to buy a new card because all of the new games coming out are requring it and all she remembers is me complaining that nothing looked any different with the card. That was a painful discussion. It's hard to insert the words "need" into a conversation about my desire to shoot down large, bipedal robots.
Back then I eagerly awaited the PC Gamer magazine, resplendent with demos so that I could see what my next purchase would be. The idea of a console curdled my stomach. Oh how things have changed. Now I have 4 consoles at home, a movie theater to play two of them on and the only PC game I've played in years sits on my laptop, untouched since I bought my DS. You can thank 3d cards for that, in part. After a while, one gets tired of searching out new drivers every time the shooter du jour drops. You can also thank my wife because it was her idea to finish the basement, complete with widescreen TV. And she bought me my GameCube. I blame her.
Getting back to the book, if you're not a fan of Penny Arcade, or aren't a gamer, I don't see this book being your cup of tea. If, on the other hand, you enjoy the strip, or enjoy the hobby and want to read about it in an interesting way, I'd say you can't go wrong by picking it up. Violence and profanity abound, so keep that in mind when picking it up for Gramma, unless Gramma is fucking metal.