I’ve got to admit, I certainly didn’t see that coming. Mettaton’s David Bowie-esque humanoid form took me by surprise!
Is/was Toriel the Queen?
I’m not sure about this because it was very quick, but did I just see Flowey from the introduction again? What a jerk.
Toriel’s room recalls the Happy Happyist cult from Earthbound.
These ruins have great music. I’m glad I preemptively purchased the soundtrack along with the game!
Is that Voldemort on the television screen?
Speaking of cute, I found a Faded Ribbon. “If you’re cuter, monsters won’t hit you as hard.”
In most games, three obvious arrows pointing to a switch would mean you definitely should pull it, but after that damn flower earlier, I’m not so sure…
Let’s use this phone! Ooh! More options! Say Hello, About Yourself, Call Her “Mom,” or Flirt?
Multiple conversations with the same NPCs. Always a nice touch!
Last Corridor. This must be the place. There’s color again. Well, not on my character, but there is in the setting.
Candy with a sign to only take one. My Halloween instincts tell me to take them all. Let’s see if I can.
Try to talk your way out of fights. Unique idea.
The way Alphys goes on and on about her favorite show reminds me of all Dr. Who fans.
This waterfall place has great music!
Toriel’s attempted nuking of the only exit of the ruins to create a “safe space” is at least consistent with the uselessly blunt tools. At least she’s principled…
Oh, holy cow. That’s freaking awesome! The program name for the game is now “Ihzktgyqn,” the intro is glitchy, the game calls itself “Floweytale,” and Flowey has taken over even my save file.
Bicycle could be like the one Ness. It basically winds up in the dump in Earthbound once you get Paula, since you can’t use when anyone other than Ness alone is in the party. Or it could be from Pokémon. Or maybe even Trevor from GTA V.
Today on Cooking with Killer Robots, we’ll be making a cake! Portal much?
“It’s dangerous to explore by yourself. I have an idea. I will give you a CELL PHONE.” Reminds me of the Zelda guy who gives you the wooden sword. “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.” Yes, some of us are old enough to remember this from the actual source material, not the internet meme.
The vendor who “sells you a smile” is like Merv’s Burger Joint in River City Ransom where you can purchase a smile from the waitress (also free).
His name is Sans. Is that sans as in “without” or comic sans? Or something else altogether?
Yeah, I figured a fight with Toriel was inevitable. For my own good, of course…
This ghost apparently likes Beats by Dre.
MTT News show reminds me of Conquest of the Crystal Palace. That’s a fantastic game that’s criminally underappreciated!
Actually, the phone is very reminiscent of Earthbound now that I think about it.
“Sincerely, a box lover.” A person of lower class would say, “I’m a box lover,” right here, but not me!
According to Sans, “Someone who likes bad jokes has an integrity you can’t say ‘no’ to.” That’s me!
Which of these items will I report on? Water, movie, video game, present, dog, or basketball? If you don’t already know the answer, why did you read this deep into a VIDEO GAME column?
I also wonder if Papyrus’ scarf, which is red and blows in the wind, is supposed to be akin to Protoman’s.
Sans. This will be big.
LOL at the ninja dog who smokes his “dog treats.”
Seeing your own coffin is certainly a strange sight.
If you leave the ruins, they will kill you. Either this is a weird corruption of Field of Dreams or it’s more like Spirited Away than I initially thought!
A random customer in this hotel restaurant closely resembles the enemy “Mole Playing Rough” from Earthbound.
I defused the bombs with only 5 seconds out of 2 minutes remaining. That was close! I didn’t think I was going to make it! Tension+!
I appreciate the humor of the signs! “Press Z to read signs!” That means nothing if you don’t already know that and “Stay on the path,” from a sign that’s clearly off the path. I like it already!
I just noticed the punny title of this icy area: Snowdin. No, I’m not that dense. I just saw the name of the area for the first time a ways into it.
NPC tells me never to trust a flower. Believe me, lesson learned! I still remember that damn flower from the beginning.
You know, I’ve had this piece of a snowman in my inventory for so long now. I thought there would be some place I’d need it (and the snowman did make it sound important), but now, it’s a matter of survival. It’s a pretty weird concept to eat a part of a being you can interact with, but I don't think I'll make it through this battle if I don't at this point.
Her in battle description even reads, “Knows best for you.” Does anyone ever truly know what’s better for you than YOU, though?
Finally! I level up! I mean, a “love” up. It looks like I have to kill stuff to gain experience, even though the game seems like it doesn’t want me to actually do that. Either way, that hat wearing bastard had it coming…
I like how attacks play out like tiny action segments in the otherwise RPG format.
Alphys hacking her way through a literal firewall was great.
Does Grillby use his fire head to grill the meals he serves?
If I choose MERCY, will that enable me to do my Animality?
Papyrus filling in the letter Z for every box of a crossword puzzle will be my new modus operandi. Z for Zero Sum Gaming, of course!
The Welcome to Hotland sign is a lot like Lumine Hall from Earthbound.
Clearly, there are labor unions down here.
OK, I can only get four candies. Now, ask me again if I feel bad about it. Still nope!
Alphys would be a perfect writer for The Culture Cache!
LV means LOVE, not LEVEL. Cute.
Shit! That’s creepy! Sans has been pure comic relief so far, but now those dead eyes and threatening demeanor he’s putting forth really have me on edge! That was totally unexpected!
Wow! I didn’t see that coming at all!
In any other game, walking around balancing 29 hot dogs on your head might seem strange. Actually, stacked like this, they look like your life meter in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
“There’s a camera hidden in the bushes.” Just what type of game are you guys making me play again..?
Alphys would be a perfect writer for The Culture Cache!
Oh, it’s a butterscotch-cinnamon pie. “Do you like pie?”
Ok, I’m trying to not kill this guy ‘cause I really like him, but I’ve now died during this battle more than the rest of the game combined. I don’t want to, but since I refuse to look anything up until I’ve beaten a game, I may just have to off him…
If only I could call my good friend Papyrus for some advice right now…
Welcome back to Zero Sum Gaming, here at the Culture Cache! I’m finally going to join the ranks of the rest of the internets (whatever that is…?) and play Undertale. This is honoring a request from Patreon donor Harrison Young. If you have an idea for a topic for any of us here at The Culture Cache, donations of any amount over there grant you full access to the whips and chains needed to force us to cover whatever you want.
Too funny! The game twists your RPG instincts! I kept calling until I got different dialogue. “Are you bored? I should have given a book to you.”
Painfully obvious area names also resembles Earthbound. I know that sounds repetitive, but it’s true. Onett, Twoson, Threed, Fourside, etc. Snowdin, Waterfall, Hotland, etc.
The King had a son (past tense!) named Asriel (similar to Asrael). I’m now more convinced than ever that Mettaton is clearly a reference to Metatron. And, yes, that’s even cooler than had it been Megatron.
I got chided for killing the inanimate dummy. Shouldn’t I be rewarded? I mean, LeBouf did star in Kingdom of the Crystal Skulll…
Alphys is precisely why I hate Facebook…
Ok, the house isn’t identical, but it’s very similar. There’s definitely a connection.
I’d love to buy some of their wares, but I only have 14G left after that stupid spider.
Something tells me she just might tattoo over it.
Fun text variances to make characters unique.
Loox Eyewalker. Cute.
This game really makes me want to eat spaghetti. Maybe even more than Super Mario 64 does.
This game has been known to cause out of body experiences like this one.
This New Home area is exactly like Toriel’s house from the beginning of the game, with more yellow flowers and less everything else.
Ketchup, mustard, and relish at the guard station. In Earthbound, you can eat these for 6HP each, or add them to other foods to increase (or decrease) their effectiveness. You can also use them to get infinite use out of the permanent stat increasing Rock Candy to all but break the game.
Mettaton the robot may be named after the angel Metatron (RIP, Alan Rickman), mets from Mega Man, or maybe both. And I bet you thought I was going to say Megatron, didn’t you?
This Undyne fight is pretty cool, actually! I like how blocking things works.
The riverman reminds me of Castlevania II: Simon’s quest, right down to the use of the name riverman.
“I’m a box lover!” I’ll say it here instead.
A literal stop and smell the flowers gag. Nice!
It happened again! I could swear I just saw Flowey! I’m not 100%, but I know I saw something!
“The fire isn’t burning hot… Just pleasantly warm. You could put your hand inside.” The Culture Cache reminds its readers to DEFINITELY NOT DO THIS!
The ferry creature pays you instead of charging you a fare! Just one of many ways this game flips the RPG genre on its head.
Did I really just buy a donut from a spider?
What? Is that it? The game just closed! I really don’t want to have to do that battle again…
201X, like Mega Man!
I must choose cinnamon or butterscotch. Weird. Something tells me that this will actually have repercussions later. Either way, the South Park aficionado has to go with Leopold "Butters" Stotch!
Undyne, like Undine in Secret of Mana. Yes, I know. The origin is much older than Secret of Mana, but that’s what it made me think of.
“Only the fearless may proceed. Brave ones, foolish ones. Both walk not the middle road.” Profound point. It’s hard to get anyone to stand for ANYTHING these days. Be bold! Take action! Actually do things! Gasp!
Apparently, every single enemy ever is here, but none are aggressive. Perhaps the word enemy was hasty in that last sentence.
This method literally never fails.
After some quick flirting, I decided to call her Mom. I realize now how disturbing that sounds… But the text was perhaps a subtle reference to the Mother (Earthbound) series.
Try as I might, I can’t get Toriel to kill me!
Papyrus calls himself “Master Chef.” A subtle nod to Master Chief?
Everyone keeps saying how nice King Asgore is. My gaming instincts tell me this means that he obviously isn’t. He’s a jerk and I’ll have to fight him. He may even be the last boss at this rate.
Wait. Savepoints here don’t have anything to say about determination. This place utterly exudes a vibe of creepiness.
I will be judged…
LV isn’t level, it’s Level of Violence.
Sans just told me I haven’t died a single time, but that’s not true. I’ve died twice so far.
In all seriousness, though, the box system reminds me of early Resident Evil games. I really like the subtle nods to so many classic titles and series like this.
It’s interesting how none of the monsters here actually fight you, even if you enter the combat screen.
Wow. If the heart you control in battle is your soul, then when you die and it shatters, that means your soul is being torn asunder. That’s surprisingly deep.
Truly epic final boss fight!
Excellent sense of humor! Despite a character blatantly telling me the correct solution, I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t. “I even labeled it for you…” Priceless!
A present, just like in, you guessed it, TOE JAM AND EARL! Kidding, it’s like Earthbound. Though TJ&E is great.
Lots of yellow flowers. Maybe there’s more than one Flowey?
As in all other situations in life, these are your choices.
Music has some shades of Earthbound.
I’m in the Bad Opinion Zone. I’ll just let you choose how to fill out the rest of this one. Donald/Hillary/Bernie/John/Ted Cruz/Kasich/Sanders/Clinton/Trump would make a fantastic/horrible President, etc…
Mt. Ebott immediately reminds me of Ebot’s/Eboshi Rock from Final Fantasy III/VI.
You know, even after all of this, I’m not sure I learned my lesson. It’s true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Flowey gotta die! Consequences be damned!
Naturally, after that, more flirting! “Oh, dear. Are you serious? And after you said you want to call me ‘mother…’ You are an ‘interesting’ child.” I’m sure I’m not the first person to have this exchange. At least, I certainly hope I’m not. Let’s just go with that.
I’m sure this is on purpose, and, if so, it’s a really cool way to show her pulling her punches so as to not put the player character in true mortal danger.
Napstablook. Great name! I do all three of those things!
Sans is a master of teleportation! And he really likes ketchup!
Whoa. So Alphys is watching me through all of those cameras I’ve noticed so far. But I’m watching Alphys as I play the game right now. Who’s really watching whom?
Asshole! Oh well. I should have known better than to A) trust a talking flower and B) think “friendship pellets” (complete with the quotation marks in game…) were a good idea. At least this is a wildly creative tutorial! Honestly, I was dreading having to do this segment, but that genuinely keeps players on their toes! Props, Toby Fox!
MTT News. You hear it... First!
Wait, these spiders bake themselves into their doughnuts. Now they’re mad at me for NOT eating them?
Final Fantasy VI opera parody scene is amazing! Even the music is clearly patterned on it. Every single part of the game relating to Mettaton is pure gold!
A few quick notes. I’ll be doing a live play-by-play reaction for this article. I’d say I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but honestly, I won’t. If I think/say it, you’ll see/read it. Wait, you can see my thoughts…? Weird. And where’s my lawyer for a totally unrelated matter? Anyway, as Harrison suggested, this is a game best experienced blind, so don’t let me spoil it for you. It’s pretty short, so you can just leave this window up while you purchase and play through the game, then finish reading it. And now, let’s dive into the Leading Brand UNDERTALE-type Software!
You misspelled Se7en.
In any other game, 29 hot dogs on your head might seem strange.
So I can’t get back into the Ruins unless I’m a ghost or I burrow. Given the Earthbound undertones so far, do I have to die and become a ghost to leave at the end of the game?
Now that’s even funnier! I kept trying to unload my useless old crap with the sell option and the shopkeeper responded with, “If you’re really hurtin’ for cash, then maybe you could do some crowdfunding.” Speaking of which, have you visited our Patreon page? Donors get to select what content we cover. Check it out!
DAMN IT! That stupid flower! I knew it!
“Mad Dummy is hopping mad.” Just like Kefka!
XP isn’t experience points, rather, it’s execution points.
Wow. Did this game really just have a Honey Boo Boo reference? I feel dirty now. And I think I need a heart transplant, stat!
Papyrus hand-writing his own narration to background objects is hilarious!
Tough Glove. Wah wah.
Mettaton is awesome! I think he’s my favorite character so far. And what a sexy rectangle he is!
I know this game is billed as an RPG, but it plays like a combination shmup and puzzle game.
? I’m supposed to feel bad for not picking cinnamon?
C'mon, Flowey. Blackface is racist.
In any other game, a hot dog on your head might seem strange.
Please tell me that Onionsan is not a reference to Onision… I want to like this game, but…
I must walk to the end of a hallway. I’m not sure I’m up to such an arduous task yet…
Just in case anybody on Earth missed it, obvious Pokémon reference is obvious with Mew Mew 1 and Mew Mew 2.
Interesting… Sans wants to go home, too.
MTT-Brand Always-Convenient Human-Soul-Flavor-Substitute! I’m just dying to try that!
I have to meet the King of all Monsters. You mean to tell me that Godzilla is in this game?
It’s minor, but the entire character arc of Mettaton (best part of the game, so far) lightly explores artificial intelligence and the soul. It’s a fascinating subject and I’m glad the game went there.
Flowey just said it’s kill or be killed. I really wish the tagline for this game in the Steam store wasn’t “The RPG game where you don’t have to destroy anyone.” That really comes across as a spoiler now, whether intended or not.
Oh that’s just priceless! When I finally found a shop, the first thing I wanted to do was sell off my outdated equipment. The expected sell option exists, but picking it results in getting scolded by the merchant. “If I started spending money on old branches and used bandages (initial equipment), I’d be out of business in a jiffy!” Touché, Mr. Fox!
Monologuing gags are always good for a cheap laugh.
Ok. I managed to spare another Icecap later. Killing gets XP and some money, sparing gets lots of money, but no XP. Good to know.
I’m a bit concerned that I haven’t gotten any experience yet and very little gold for that matter. Even if I’m doing what the game wants and I’m being met with success, it defies everything an RPG normally wants you to do.
A ghost who’s fallen and can’t get up. Would kids today even get that?
Toriel asked if I smell that. “Do you smell what The Rock is cookin’?”
Somehow, I no longer find rocks that taunt me strange.
I’m in a dump. Like Star Wars!
DETERMINATION is back!
This has all the makings of being the end of the game. The drama is hitting the peak of its crescendo. I had an interminably long elevator ride (that reminded me of the long ladder climb in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater). There have been a few reveals. Finally, this place is eerily gray and silent.
This sounds nitpicky, but the game keeps using “they” as a singular. This is grammatically incorrect. I think it’s (notice the singular) to avoid projecting a sex onto the playable character. I don’t have a problem with that, but you can’t change singulars into plurals like that. As SJWs are so fond of saying, “Read a book (in this case, the Chicago Manual of Style[which you’ll use extensively in college, not that those places are about learning anymore…]) and educate yourself.” Yes, I am a teacher. And, yes, you would get marked down for that because it is incorrect.
“You encountered the Dummy.” Must be a Shia LeBouf fan.
Fishing – Breath of Fire or Zelda.
The player character and Alyphys have a similar relationship to The Punisher and Microchip.
“Allow me to educate you…” Uh oh. That phrase usually portends something bad…
Here’s a very Nintendo-looking flower named Flowey. Apparently he’s the tutorial…
More great music at The Core!
Excellent job with the fourth wall breaking, Toby Fox.
These shopkeepers comment on finding guns and food in the garbage. Likely a take on Earthbound, which uses garbage cans as treasure chests (brilliant in its own right).
Toriel has a calendar from 201X. Interesting.
Ok, this is weird. Sans is on the left side of a screen. When I move right to the next screen, he’s already not only there, but on the right side of it. Are there multiple Sans? Is he really The Flash? Or should I just chalk this one up to “video game logic?”
I hate to admit it, but Flowey actually raises some good points regarding the use of force.
Yep! The game says I feel like the scum of the earth... but I don’t. More free candy!
First human to fall into the underworld in a long time. NOT ever…
“Macaroni art of a flower. ‘For King Dad!’” Is Flowey a prince? Is Asgore a flower? Is Asgore Flowey?
Toriel > Tutorial. Now I get it…
Looking through the telescope in the wish room reminds me of the telescope segment of Final Fantasy IV. In fact, the wish room is a lot like the prayer dais from that game in general, right down to the music.
Sans and Papyrus went to a costume party, huh? I know someone who’s great at that! Actually, I wonder what Undertale cosplay might look like, now that I stop to think about it.
The comedian’s heartbreaking story is a take on Jackie Mason’s real life family struggles. It was expertly parodied by The Simpsons when Krusty had to reconcile with his father, a rabbi, who didn't want him going in to comedy. Rabbi Hyman Krustofski was even played by Mason himself!
Killing Mettaton is not an option. I’m sure I was supposed to feel that way about lots of other characters so far (and I’ve still only killed one random mook so far), but this is the first character I’ll spare at any cost.
The out of place human in a world of monsters also makes me think of Spirited Away.
This is how I begin all of my dates.
Flowey is violent! He’s LV 9999! The moral of this game is never trust flowers!
This is already my new favorite TV show.
Sweet! A Toy Knife! Finally, a real weapon!
Man, Alphys is annoying…
I’m not sure if that was the optimal way to win, but I paid the spider boss all my money. I didn’t actually get to spare her until I ate a spider item I bought waaaaaay earlier though. If I just forked over 1600 bucks needlessly, I’ll not be a happy camper. Oh well.
Flowey erasing my save file is like having low sanity in Eternal Darkness.
This room with the moving and stationary lasers is the just digital red light/green light.
Undyne, based on the similarly named water nymph, Undine, is found in Waterfall, where you need an umbrella because of the constant rain. See, references like this prove that gaming makes you smarter!
The tools are all filed down. That begs the question how effective they remain as tools. For that matter, a blunt object can still make a great weapon. Baseball bats and 2x4s are staples of the zombie apocalypse.
Setting up the two gay royal guards was hilarious!
This game really likes the word, “determination.”
Apparently, Jarreth, the Goblin King, moonlights as the riverman.
Sans really is endearingly creepy.
What’s up with all these hidden cameras? It could be a reference to the camera man from Earthbound, but it feels more sinister. Either way, “Fuzzy pickles!”
Same here, Papyrus! I love Test Pattern!
You can tell this is an indie game from the amount of black in this screenshot alone.
“You can’t get rich and famous like me without beautifying a few orbs.” Is that line as dirty as I took it?
Whoa! That’s weird and fun! Asgore just destroyed one of my command buttons. Incidentally, it was the one for Mercy. If that doesn’t sound like a last boss, I don’t know what does!
Ok. Now Sans appears twice on the same screen, but just barely out of view, so you can’t see him in literally two places at once. Something strange is going on here…
The oven temperature goes up to NINE-THOUSAND! Not over it, though.
Thankfully, you don’t have to redo the entire battle over from scratch.
So I just bought a jug of spider cider from spiders. The item descriptions says it’s “made with whole spiders, not just the juice.” Did they just sell me their fallen brethren?
Now the program name is just blank. Creepy!
The bit with Undyne and the spears was great fun! Dodge the spears or enter battle where you have to… dodge the spears! This game is excellent at making the gameplay fit the narrative.
Oh, not this asshole again! This flower really is a jerk. That’s the first time I’ve ever said that sentence…
I like the use of the rimshot to punctuate the ridiculously cheesy joke.
Even the Game Over screen is different!
Fighting to the point of almost killing, but not quite reminds me of Pokémon. Gotta catch ‘em all!
So far, calling Papyrus on every single screen I’ve tested has yielded unique dialogue!
Even the enemies here are the ones from The Ruins at the start of the game.
NPCs are commenting on his teleportation. Glad to know it’s not just me.
His brother is named Papyrus. Ok, comic sans it is. How appropriate for the jokester.
Digital Revolution commentary in the dump? There’s a desktop computer and a DVD box down here.
The American Beauty reference is great. And Mettatron covered in rose petals really might just be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
A skeleton who likes fart jokes? Now I’ve seen everything. Well, I still haven’t seen a man eat his own head, but other than that.
Undyne’s all pissed, saying how I killed remorselessly when anyone got in my path. At this point, I’ve literally only killed one enemy and it was a generic ice hat wearing guy. I’ve been attacked well over a hundred times and now. She’s already killed 6 herself, so how can this bitch be so high and mighty?
Sans literally mans two stations at once.
More great signage! “Three out of four grey rocks recommend you push them.” I wish signs in real life were as funny!
Oh, so I’m merciful “for a human?” That’s racist!
Flowey just told me he’s going to share some LOVE with me. Am I old enough to be playing this game?
During the date, Papyrus speaks in a manner reminiscent of Tatewaki Kuno from Ranma ½.
A ghost laying on the ground saying, “Zzzzzz.” Not snoring, but literally saying, “Zzzzzz.”
Fourth wall breaking is great in nearly any context, but when you’re using fourth wall humor to tell me the function of the F4 key on my keyboard, you just took it to another level!
After each loss to Papyrus, the dialogue changes. I even managed enough losses to bypass the fight altogether!
Heroes kill Boss Monsters by wounding them five times.
A jetpack/phone? Google and Apple have nothing on Undertale!
This is the face I make when somebody talks about the latest sportsball scores.
That music puzzle was fun, but I’m still not sure what the point of it was. And what the Hell is dog residue?
The yellow skin tone makes my character look like he belongs on The Simpsons.
Hey! I’m on TV in this lab! That’s not creepy in the least!
Hopefully our nine readers are having as much fun with this as the nine viewers are watching MTT news!
What’s up with all these mushroom light thingies you can turn off and on?
So it's come to this, has it?
When I resumed playing, I noticed the load screen has changed pretty drastically. Toriel, Sans, and Papyrus are all there now and the screen is much more colorful. I have no idea why, but it’s different. The music has more accompaniment, too.
The fountain in the hotel lobby isn’t shooting water into its own basin, rather, it’s spraying all over the floor. Too funny!
Whoa! How meta! Papyrus is a popular character in this game. How'd he know that?
What’s going on? Is my game corrupted?
Papyrus just told me that Sans loves slime. That’s one of the 7 “Don’t Care” choices for your favorite thing in Earthbound.
Uh-oh. The first color I see is yellow. Yellow flowers… I have a bad feeling about this…
In battle with an enemy named Froggit. Aside from the Pokémon sounding name, the description is funny. “Life is difficult for this enemy.” Poor little guy! Did he, like Sypha Belnades from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, have a bad life?
Now's not the time for a date, Papyrus. Well, ok. Maybe just a quickie.
Actually, the heroine of her show sounds a lot like Kilgrave from Jessica Jones. You know, the villain who controls people?
Alphys’ misdirection, intentional or otherwise, reminds me of Big Boss in Metal Gear (the first game, no solid).
“Look at these cool toys! They don’t interest you at all.” Undertale obviously doesn’t know me very well…
Flowey vaguely resembles the Mana Beast from Secret of Mana.
Looks like I start equipped with a stick. "I wash my back with a rag on a stick," so that works!
“Practice talking to the dummy.” I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere…