With Undertale returning to the public sphere due to its upcoming release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, I figure it’s a good time to tackle this issue.
Ever since the surprise success of Undertale in late 2015, its cult following has built a reputation for being, in nice terms, unruly and over-enthusiastic. Many people who played the game early on fell in love with it and began pushing it way too hard on everyone who hadn’t played it yet and it only got worse from there. It eventually led to the resentment of Undertale fans, and by extension Undertale itself, from people who either hadn’t played the game or didn’t love it. Even Toby Fox himself, the creator of Undertale, has acknowledged this problem as recently as this week in the new Undertale for PS4 trailer, in which the bottom left corner at one point reads, “With Undertale(TM) on your PS4(TM), you’ll finally be able to experience what PC users have been complaining about for year(s)!”
Due to this, many claim that Undertale‘s fanbase has ruined the game. I disagree and I will explain myself in this article. But first, I have to confess that I, myself, am what many would call Undertale trash. I adore the game. It’s one of my favorites of all time, right up there with The Last of Us, The Walking Dead, Pokémon: Crystal Version and The Legend of Zelda (actually, I think I would put Zelda in a slightly lower tier, but the reasoning behind that is a discussion for another day). I am not, however, much of a fan of Undertale‘s fanbase, and that distinction is, I think, an important one.
Yeah, Undertale‘s fanbase sucks
Well, not the entire fanbase. Like any fanbase, there are Undertale fans who are awesome and Undertale fans that suck. The thing is that the Undertale fans that suck REALLY suck, to the point where Undertale fans in general have gained a reputation for really sucking. On the one hand, I get it. It’s a great game, they’re passionate about it and they want to share that passion with others. The thing is, they often go about it the wrong way. Undertale is all about choices. Are you going to kill that monster or befriend him? Up to you. Are you going to say something mean to this monster or be nice to her? Your decision. Are you going to inform Undyne that anime isn’t real or let her keep believing it is? It’s all up to the player’s discretion. That’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to be, anyway. A lot of these hardcore Undertale fans, however, act as though there is a correct set of choices and that straying in any way from that means you are playing the game wrong. Many would argue that the “correct” way to play the game is to do a Pacifist Neutral run, then a True Pacifist run, then a Genocide run and finally a Soulless Pacifist run. This is supposedly how you attain the “true Undertale experience.” But that’s wrong. If you choose to play this way, then great; you get to experience much of what the game has to offer. But the game is about CHOICE. If you do a True Pacifist run right from the start (well, technically that’s impossible, but you know what I mean), are happy with that ending and never want to do anything different, then that’s perfectly fine too. That’s how you choose to experience the game. Or maybe you’re happy getting a bunch of different Neutral endings and never seeing the True Pacifist or Genocide endings. Whatever you as an individual want to get out of the game you should be able to. So it’s wrong for any other Undertale fans to tell you that you’re playing it wrong. There is no right or wrong, there’s just how you choose to play.
And many of these hardcore Undertale fans don’t stop there. They’ve even harassed popular YouTubers for doing things like reading a character’s voice in a way that doesn’t match their particular headcanon. Which is ridiculous. The Completionist, who has over 700,000 subscribers, has stated that he was afraid to do a review of the game because he didn’t want to receive all the backlash from the community he knew he was likely to get. MatPat from The Game Theorists, a channel with over 8,000,000 subscribers, has spoken about the immense amount of hateful messages he got for covering Undertale theories that the fanbase didn’t agree with. Markiplier, who has over 17,000,000 subscribers, quit his original Let’s Play series of Undertale just two videos into it because of all the toxic comments he was receiving. Never before, and never since, have I heard of a game that YouTubers with millions of subscribers were afraid to touch because they were afraid of the harassment they would receive from the fanbase. That’s completely unacceptable. If you truly enjoy a game, you should let others enjoy it on their own terms and not shove it down their throats, micromanage every aspect of their experience and then become a toxic troll if they so much as take one step out of line of what you consider to be “correct.”
Despite the rancid actions the fanbase is capable of, I would never say that they ruin Undertale. There is one simple reason for this: Undertale the game and Undertale‘s fanbase are two separate entities. Just because one may be filled with hatred and intolerance shouldn’t affect how people feel about the other, even if the two entities are related to each other. Despite the fanbase, Undertale is still a fantastic game. It’s charming, fun, hilarious and has an awesome soundtrack. I could sing the game’s praises all day, but that’s not the point. The point is, please don’t let your feelings about the game’s fanbase dictate how you feel about the game itself. And who knows, maybe you won’t like the game itself anyway. Maybe you’ve never played it but it just doesn’t appeal to you so you never will play it. That’s fine. But try not to hate the game because its fans suck.
It’s worth mentioning that The Completionist, MatPat and Markiplier, despite their issues with the fanbase, all love Undertale itself and they’ve all gone on to do videos on the game despite their reservations. It just goes to show that Undertale‘s fanbase doesn’t ruin Undertale, it just ruins Undertale‘s fanbase. If you can get past, or just avoid altogether, the toxicity of many of the game’s fans, you might just find a game that’s worth all the praise it gets, from good and bad fans alike. And if you do end up loving the game, please don’t become one of those bad fans.
Sincerely, a box lover.