Squirrels

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Undertale: Just One Big Inside Joke?

    Undertale is a game that has exploded to absurd levels of internet popularity since its release in September of 2015, especially considering that the entirety of the game was created by one man, Toby Fox. Playing it myself, I absolutely loved the game–its mechanics, the writing, and the story as a whole. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I may have only liked it because of all the parallels and references the game made to other games and game genres. In other words, I’m not sure I would ever recommend Undertale to someone who has not already played a lot of video games.

    I have lots of questions surrounding this topic. Is Undertale only good because of all of its in-jokes? As far as it relates to modern internet humor, that seems to be an essential part of that brand of humor nowadays. Is it a good/bad/neutral thing that this extremely compelling video game is really only accessible to a seasoned gamer? Are there other game genres that are ripe for the type of commentary and inside jokes that Undertale pulled on the RPG genre? Can anyone come up with an idea for a game to poke fun at another genre of game?

    • Interesting idea! I also loved Undertale, but I am not a huge gamer and I didn't get many (if any) of the major game references. So I wouldn't say that is the *only* reason the game is good. I personally loved it for it's exploration of the whole concept of games (which I suppose ties in to the "making a joke at the expense of games" idea), and the story as a whole. Perhaps, though, this article could still use the concept of the "in-jokes" as examining different ways that the game has been or could be appreciated. E.g. some people love the story, some the in-jokes, some the art. Or discussing the idea of Undertale as a parody of games, instead of making it out to be the only reason the game is good. – Mariel Tishma 3 years ago
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    • I suppose the question I'd have to ask is whether or not deconstuction is, by its very nature, an inside joke. Undertale isn't all that heavy on direct references, but it does rely heavily on leaning against preconceived notions of how video games, JRPGs in particular, work. It is, in a way, a conversation about how we play games in game form. That said, like many conversations, it can be hard to participate if you have no context on the subject matter. This is certainly a limitation, but I suppose the question then is if that limitation is so dire as to reduce the value of the work as a whole. – John Wells 3 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    For some reason, I have never really heard of or grouped all of these games into this category/genre of collectathons before. However, it has become very clear that this is a huge theme through many of my favorite games from my childhood. Looks like I would like to see some new collectathons myself.

    The Nintendo Collectathon: A Genre of the Past

    Somehow, the gauge of how much I like a game has become how much the game makes me cry. Solid list.

    10 Video Games You Weren’t Expecting To Make You Cry

    I’m not sure I am convinced about this negative analysis of the world, the character of Link, and the story.

    I believe using the size and ability to interact with the entirety of the open world of the Ocarina of Time alone to be a little limiting in judging the world of the game. There are plenty of games, Undertale comes to mind, where the world is not all that big, you cannot interact with all that much, and the graphics are not very good, and yet the world still feels like a convincing and compelling setting for a video game. As long as the world feels like an actual place, I think it can very easily hold up–and I brought up graphics because Undertale’s 8-bit graphics are very much not good by today’s standards, but I did not feel while playing that that made Undertale’s world any less good. Regardless of graphics, size, and interactivity with the world of the game, the player has to exercise their imagination to connect with the world of a video game, so as long as the game does a good enough job convincing the player to put that effort it, I think the game can have a great world.

    As far as the basic nature of the character of Link and the story go, I think the history of folk-tales and storytelling throughout the ages go directly against this analysis. Some of the longest lasting and most powerful stories in human history can be seen as some of the most elementary and formulaic. The hero on a quest to save his homeland is simply a timeless story-The Odyssey, the story of Cincinnatus, The Lord of the Rings, Jason and the Argonauts. These epic stories found in the mythology of numerous cultures rely on a protagonist that is relatable by an entire culture. So, if Link did have a strong and specific personality, that would take away the potential power a story like this has. I guess what I am saying is that if this analysis holds, then the tales that have defined human storytelling for thousands of years apparently do not hold up anymore, and I just do not think that is true!

    Does Ocarina of Time Still Hold Up By Today's Standards?