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Undertale is an independent role playing video game created by Toby Fox, featuring gameplay mechanics reminiscent of traditional top-down shooter games but with the ability to win every fight without killing anyone. Following the successful crowdfunding in June 2013 and the Steam Greenlight approval in January 2015, the game was eventually released on September 15th, 2015.
Toby Fox, the creator of Undertale, is a music composer who had primarily worked on the soundtrack of the webcomic Homestuck. He had also previously worked on an Earthbound ROM hack named "Radiation's Halloween Hack" released on October 31st, 2009. This game was praised for its music, gameplay, and use of dark themes and horror elements and was frequently compared to Yume Nikki. However, the hack was also criticized for its grimdark story being edgy.
Undertale Kickstarter and Release
On June 24th, 2013, Fox created a Kickstarter page for the game Undertale. The initial goal of $5,000 was met in less than 24 hours. During the Kickstarter funding, a demo for the game was released on the game's website. A month later, on July 24th, Undertale was succesfully funded, meeting all of its stretch goals, with a final amount of $51,124 pledged.
The game took two years in development. On January 14th, 2015, Undertale was put up on Steam Greenlight for approval. Within a week, the game got approved for Steam on January 20th. The game was fully released on September 15th, 2015.
On October 31st, 2018, the @Undertale Twitter account posted several links to the website deltarune.com, which contains an executable file for Mac and Windows users to play the Deltarune follow-up game. That day, YouTuber InTheLittleWood posted a video about the game, which gained more than 62,000 views and 430 comments in less than 24 hours (shown below).
The game's overall style is inspired by games like the Earthbound / Mother Series with the use of animated pixel art and chip-tune music. The game's title "Undertale" is also a shout out towards the indie action-adventure game Cave Story, by which Toby Fox was inspired.
The gameplay of Undertale replaces RPG combat mechanics usually determined by random numbers with a timing mini-game for attacking and critical hits. Undertale's gameplay also features top-down shooter segments that involve moving a small hit-box to dodge enemy attacks and bullet patterns. These defensive segments are often compared to the danmaku gameplay style of Touhou Project. The game also gives players the option to either fight monsters until they are defeated, or show them mercy by searching for non-violent methods to defeat them; with gameplay being influenced based on these decisions.
The player takes control of a small child that fell in a cavern hole inside of mountain Ebott; accidentally entering an underground world full of Monsters, a race that used to live peacefully alongside humanity until a war broke out between them. Their inferior strength caused the monsters to lose the war. The remaining monsters were banished to underground caverns and have been kept trapped by The Barrier: a powerful one-way magic spell that separates the underground from the surface.
It is then up to the player to figure how to get home, discover what the king of monsters is plotting, and why the fate of humanity and monsters is in danger. Undertale uses gameplay-story integration by changing the dialog and endings depending on who you kill or spare. The story is prominent for its grasp on the theme of moral motivation.
Near the end of the game, the player is explained the moral choices they had to make since their entrance in the underground, receiving judgement over their actions. After the final boss the player then has to decide over the fate of humanity and the monsters. Although most of these choices will lead to a variation of the neutral ending; if specific conditions are met the player can receive either the "Pacifist" or the "Genocide" ending, which both result in different consequences.
|Toriel (also nicknamed "Goatmom") is an anthropomorphic goat monster that gives the rest of the tutorial to the player. Toriel is defined by her warm and caring personality. Often times, she employs her compassion onto the protagonist, helping the player navigate in the unfamiliar Ruins, guiding the player through their first battle, and supplying the player meals. Her protection escalate into extreme territories as at times, her over-protection towards the player, as she makes many attempts to shield the player from advancing into the Underground that lies beyond The Ruins, fearing the dangers that may await the player. She is universally recognized for her motherly nature.|
|Sans is an affable, but seemingly lazy skeleton who works a job as a sentry guardsman. Despite holding up the job, his work ethic appears to be low, as he frequently takes naps and breaks. A key trait of Sans's that is recognized by the game is his affinity towards jokes, ranging from pranks to word play, to stand-up comedy. Sans shows a friendly disposition towards the player, but on occasion will display observant and serious behaviours. Throughout the game, Sans poses as an impartial observer for the most part, watching over the player's actions and taking note of situations, though functionally he tends not to intervene with the player's decisions, and keeps his distance from afar. As is indicated by his name, Sans is based off the infamous comic sans typeface; his dialogue is written in this typeface.|
|Alphys is a shy and reclusive royal scientist serving under Asgore, who usually keeps to herself in her laboratory in Hotland and watches the player's progress through security cameras. Alphys is shown on multiple occasions to be very neurotic and anxious when it comes to interacting, usually overly-concerned about people's perceptions of her, and indecisive about her own decisions. Her personality is based on the Otaku archetype stereotype; she's completely withdrawn to her lab, and has an obsessive interest with anime and comic books.|
Other minor characters in the game that managed to gain notable attention include (from left to right):
- Muffet, a spider monster that acts as a bakery seller and boss battle against the player. She was designed by Michelle Czajkowski, the writer and artist for the webcomic "Ava's Demon" who pledged to the game's Kickstarter for the reward-tier of designing a boss monster to be put in the game.
- Temmie, a species of monster that resembles cats with shoulder length hair, dog ears, and cat ears. Temmie's nonsensical dialogue and character role as a species of innocent creatures, has resulted in the creature often being compared to the katy t3h pengu1n of d00m copypasta and the Earthbound character Mr. Saturn. She is named after for one of the game's main artists: Tuyoki.
- Napstablook, a ghost who resides in Waterfall. They are encountered early in the game and can be spared by cheering him up, as they are shy, sad and feels that they are bothering the player. Inside their house, Napstablook is revealed to be a fan of music, with them wearing headphones and browsing an online music forum. It's implied that Napstablook is Mettaton's cousin, as Mettaton used to live in a house right next to Napstablook's, and has diary entries describing his spirit being scheduled for use inside a robot.
Both the demo and the game were praised for their unique take on RPG gameplay and story, characters, and various possible endings. As of October 1st, the reception of Undertale's steam release has been "overwhelmingly positive" with 2,800+ Positive steam user reviews. As of October 6th, the game has an "universal acclaim" on Metacritic with a score of 97 based on 13 positive critic reviews and is "generally favorable" with a score of 81 over nearly 600 user ratings.
The possible final battles and endings of the game have been praised for invoking tear-jerkers, nightmare fuel, and feels to players as results of their own actions and choices alongside the backstory and relationships of the characters.
On May 27th, 2013, a dedicated subreddit was created, gaining over 6,200 subscribers inthe following two years. An Undertale wiki was already created in September 2013, but didn't receive large updates until the game's release in 2015. A TV Tropes page for Undertale was also created. Let's Play channels have been uploading and streaming full-length playthroughs; most notable by video gaming streamer Joel from Vinesauce (shown below, left), Two Best Friends Play (shown below, middle), and the Game Grumps series; Steam Train. (shown below, right).
The game has gained a sizeable following, first on 4chan's video game board /v/ when the beta was released, and after the game release. As of October 17th, searching the keyword "Undertale" on the artist community deviantArt leads to over 6,300 results. The fandom can also be found on other communities like Tumblr. The site's official Year in Review blog that made top 20 lists of reblogged content of different categories listed Undertale as the second most reblogged video game of 2015, only falling behind Pokemon.  This is especially remarkable for Undertale considering the fact that the game was only released in the later part of the 2015. A massive poll on 'the best game ever' was held by Gamefaqs with various titles spanning generations being the choices. Undertale survived the elimination and won the final round against The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, with 57.82% of the votes. 156,604 users participated in this event held on December 15, 2015.
The soundtrack was highly acclaimed amongst the fans, with the music rating site RateyourMusic.com which creates charts of music albums based on a review scores by users from 1 to 5 stars ranking the Undertale Soundtrack #11 on the chart of highest rated albums of 2015, and #4,149 overall with a 3.68/5.0 out of 357 ratings.
Undertale's soundtrack quickly became popular amongst fans of the game due to its quality and chiptune style, which was composed entirely by Toby Fox. Mashups of the game are most commonly found on SoundCloud. One of the earliest known remixes was "undertale temmie get money for colege" by archdiggle (shown below), a combination of "Tem Shop" and Hail Mary Mallon's "Whales", which gained over 485,000 views and 11,500 likes in three months. Because of the track's popularity, it inspired various other remixes of the soundtrack, which came to be known as Temmie Covers.
Following the release of archdiggle's remix, "#undertale" became an increasingly popular tag on SoundCloud. Other songs from Undertale's soundtrack that were commonly used in mashups include "Death by Glamour", "Spider Dance", "Metal Crusher", and "Megalovania". On October 21st, 2015, a mashup collaboration was released on Bandcamp, featuring over 120 different mashups from 30 artists (shown below)
A particularly popular type of fan work in Undertale's fanbases revolves around numerous Alternate Universes, Fan works where the author deliberately alters the original canon of the story, thus creating a new world with the original characters. It can range anywhere between simple theme changes in the characters appearance for fanart to entirely new stories and characters for fan fiction. Members of the fanbase may also make works based on another member's AU.
A few well known (but by no means a complete list of) AUs:
|Underfell is a Grimdark fanart AU where every main character is an evil antagonist to Frisk except for Flowey, and have red battle sprites instead of white. Other Undertale fans sometimes make fun of Underfell for being overtly Edgy.|
|Undynetale is a comedy AU every character has a personality and appearance similar to Undyne, leading to an over-the-top reenactment of the game's story.|
Papyrus' Spaghetti refers to a series of jokes associating the character Papyrus and spaghetti, in reference to several scenes from the game where he talks about cooking spaghetti.
"You Are Filled With Determination"
"You Are Filled With Determination" is a recurring quote from various checkpoint descriptions explaining something in the environment that keeps the protagonist determined to keep going. Determination as "the will to keep living, and the resolve to change fate" is also an major story theme shared by each main character and ending of the game.The catchphrase has also turned into a phrasal template used to reference Undertale and compliment positive works and events.
Likewise, the game over quote "Stay Determined" has also become a catchphrase used as advice towards players who experience difficulty in trying to complete the game, particularly for those playing to get the "Pacifist Ending".
"You're Gonna Have a Bad Time"
You're Gonna Have a Bad Time is a memorable quote from Sans; who will warn players on the "Genocide Route", a story branch of the game about killing every fightable monster, foreshadowing consequential story events. This lead to Sans becoming associated with the Genocide Route, and has spawned many image macros and drawings in the fashion of Coaxed into a Snafu.
Temmie Covers are mashups that apply the acapella of the song "Temmie Village" from the Undertale soundtrack to other songs. These are frequently found on Tumblr and SoundCloud.
Mettaton's legs are the most noted feature of the character's "EX" form which gained lots of popularity among fans, resulting in a photoshop and art fad where his legs are given to other Undertale characters or characters from unrelated franchises.
 Radiation – Radiation's Halloween Hack
 Kickstarter – Undertale Updates
 Steam Greenlight – Undertale
 Metacritic – Undertale for PC Reviews
 DeviantArt – Search for undertale
 Tumblr – Search for undertale
 Reddit – /r/undertale
 Bandcamp – UNDERTALE Soundtrack
 Bandcamp – Undertale Mash Collab
 RateYourMusic – UNDERTALE Soundtrack
 RateYourMusic – 2015 Best Albums Chart=
 Tumblr – Most Reblogged Video Games
 GameFaqs – Best. Game. Ever. Battle Results
Oct 07, 2015 at 09:29PM EDT
Sep 30, 2015 at 10:45PM EDT
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