Adam and Brian had never met in real life before that afternoon. It was rather awkward, Brian reported, but Adam seemed eager to get right to work when he arrived.
As they sat down on the couch in Adam’s basement, it quickly sunk in for both of them how little a plan they had. Adam had his knife and Brian had his tape recorder, but neither of them had any idea what they would do if The Princess actually appeared. Up to this point, all anyone wanted to know was what exactly The Princess was. So…do they just ask her? How would they communicate? What would they say?
These were mostly Brian’s questions. Adam was more focused on how they would react if The Princess turned hostile. Brian didn’t even want to consider the possibility. For a second, there was a period of silence. They both knew they had a chance to back out.
The society was waiting, though.
With a deep breath, they put in the first game off the stack. Brian idly started taking some notes on the afternoon’s events while Adam played. His notes read…
Super Mario 64: Played 20 minutes. No sign.
War Gods: Played 15 minutes. No sign.
Chameleon Twist: Played 25 minutes. No sign.
F-Zero: Played 5 minutes, realized it would be a really hard game for The Princess to manifest in.
Harvest Moon 64: Played 10 minutes, got too frustrated trying to explain game to Adam.
Snowboard Kids 2: Played 35 minutes. No sign. Also this game rules.
Goldeneye: Played 20 minutes. No sign.
Earthworm Jim 3D: Fuck this game.
Goemon’s Great Adventure: Played 20 minutes. No sign. Mistook a girl in a town for The Princess, but it wasn’t her.
Blast Corps: Played 14 minutes until game randomly locked up. Princess?
Snowboard Kids 2: Played 20 more minutes. No sign.
Game after game, they worked through their stack. Every single time, there was no sign of The Princess anywhere.
The sun was setting with no data collected. Adam and Brian didn’t say it, but it was actually a relief to be able to go back to the board and say The Princess didn’t show. They’d tempted the beast and lived to tell about it. That was enough for them. They were ready to bail.
But there was one game left. Ocarina of Time.
Brian had put it on the bottom of the stack in the hopes that they might not get to it. Even with what little data the society had in these early years, they knew Ocarina of Time meant something special to The Princess. They couldn’t leave until they’d at least taken a peek. Ten minutes. No, five! Just enough to be sure she wasn’t there.
The game took a little longer to boot up than normal.
At first, the game seemed normal enough. The duo walked Link from one end of Hyrule to the other. They were both noticing the subtle increases in transition times between areas, but neither said anything. The Princess hadn’t appeared. The game was still largely normal. Maybe the cart was just old. Maybe the missing textures on that Peahat were just a fluke.
They’d been sitting in silence for ten whole minutes without realizing. Adam broke it. “She’s toying with us. She knows we know she’s here.”
"You don't know that."
"You wanna explain these load times?"
“But she wouldn't play with us like this. Is that a thing she does? Isn't she just like a glitch ghost or something?”
Adam didn’t answer. He walked Link slowly through Kakariko Village, he and Brian scanning every inch of the screen.
Brian saw her first.
At least, he thought he did, out of the corner of his eye. “There! She’s there!” he shouted. Adam shook his head, replying it’s just the girl who makes you chase cuckoos. He panned the camera back to illustrate. Indeed, The Princess wasn’t there. However, the cuckoo girl wasn’t, either. There was no one there.
“So what do we do, now?”
“You think I know?”
“Let’s shut the game off. No one’ll know.”
“No. We’re finding her.”
With that, Adam ran Link into the Graveyard. Brian noticed Adam checking his knife.
From that point on, it was like so many Princess stories. Textures disappearing, music not loading, transitions not going to the proper place, everything we’d come to expect. The only difference was The Princess wasn’t appearing. In fact, no one was appearing. Every time they’d revisit an area, fewer and fewer NPCs would be there. Shops and houses were empty. Even enemies weren’t spawning anymore. Those that did appear usually did so missing all their textures, appearing blank white and unable to interact with the player.
And yet, no Princess. Link stood alone in the middle of the village. Adam had had enough, slamming his controller down and shouting at the screen.
“We just want to talk!”
“Why are you doing this?”
No reply. Adam's voice suddenly took a deep, deathly serious tone.
“Answer us or we turn off the game.”
Brian couldn’t help but shoot a confused glance at Adam. He saw Adam just glaring at the screen, deep in concentration. But, whatever the reason for what Adam said, it worked. Link immediately fell right through the ground, as if though into a hole.
There was a long period of darkness, or loading if you prefer.
And there she was. The Princess, just as everyone had described her. With her red hair and white dress, she was hovering in the middle of a Great Fairy Fountain. Adam made Link approach her slowly. With the fairy fountain music playing, the atmosphere was so peaceful, so serene, Brian almost felt as though The Princess were welcoming them.
This was what Brian had hoped for. This was finally their chance to talk. The Princess was going to tell them everything.
Yeah, I already mentioned Adam dies, so you can imagine how well this goes.