Undertale is an unconventional video game that combines the flavor of an old-school 16-bit role-playing game with the option to avoid every battle and empathize with the creatures you meet. Critics love it. And, on Tuesday, it beat the beloved Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in a poll to determine the “Best Game Ever.” A certain subset of gamers is Very Mad about this.
Although it was just released this year, Undertale has a highly dedicated fan base. They love this game, and they vote. The little game that could has overcome established titles throughout the GameFAQs poll, besting Fallout 3, two Mario Games, and Super Smash Bros. Melee on its way to a finals victory against Ocarina of Time.
But self-proclaimed “real gamers” are having trouble accepting that a relatively new game could slay their faves, and they’re accusing the Undertale fans of being outsiders and trolls who ruined the poll.
“Atrocious battle system. Every area looks the same. 8 bit graphics..cmon… … Personally I think this guys uncle works for gamefaqs that’s why he was put up there. I don’t think it’s right to be given this credit for a game that a 8yr could make.”
“I’m not going to buy Undertale as a result of the contest … I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that people would rally around a troll entry in an online popularity contest … I think this is the best way to get right back at all the Undertrolls — their actions have actually cost the developer money.”
“The reason this game is winning on the poll is because it’s a really craptastic game and people love crap. I mean you have to have the mental capacity of a brain damaged baboon to think this game is worth the 10 dollars spent on it. … The game is weak in every aspect. Honestly flabbergasted it was made in the first place.”
Another aspect of the hatred for Undertale comes from the place everyone’s favorite online hate movement came from: the false dichotomy between “real gamers” and “Social Justice Warriors” who want to “ruin” video games with nontraditional gameplay and minority representation.
As Kotaku explains, Undertale has a number of qualities that contribute to its reputation as an “SJW game,” including gay relationships, androgynous characters, and the ability to go through the game with no combat whatsoever.
For game critics — or people who think critically about games in general — these were selling points, things that made Undertale unique and valuable. Clearly, it has an audience that feels a strong connection to it.
But that only makes it more mystifying to traditional gamers. How could an indie game compete with the venerated classics that shaped their childhoods? They don’t even have to play it to know.
But when the haters do give it a chance, it tends to win them over:
As one GameFAQs poster perfectly put it, “Only time will tell if this game gets remembered, but I’ll remember the FlameFaqs Undertale war of 2015 for many years to come. The salt levels were almost lethal, and I loved it.”