Heartfelt role-playing game Undertale celebrated its fifth anniversary on Sept. 15, and to mark the occasion, merch website Fangamer and Japanese localizers 8-4 held a sweeping, epic concert. An orchestra got together and played many of the game’s iconic tracks, all while a plush of Undertale’s annoying dog oversaw the proceedings.
The concert begins at about the 45 minute mark in the video above, and it’s well worth a watch. If nothing else, you should absolutely tune in to the livestream’s rendition of Megalovania around the 2:54:00 timestamp. It is, somehow, more majestic than you might expect.
This is probably why many folks who watched the concert last night absolutely got in their feelings about the game. The top comment on the YouTube video says, “I cried like twice through the whole thing.” I saw the same sentiment unfold across my Twitter timeline, where folks reminisced on the game’s highlights and what it meant to them when they played it. It was a total mood shift from the general depressing and terrifying tenor of the year. Undertale is, at its heart, an optimistic game about friendship and love. For those of us living in a country that proudly displays how little of a fuck some people give about their neighbors, Undertale’s concert was a much-needed respite.
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You wouldn’t think that from the way most people talk about Undertale, though. Over the last few years the humble RPG went from being lauded to being hated and denigrated thanks to an overzealous fandom that had very specific ideas about the “right” way to play Undertale.
But how does a fandom get to that point in the first place? Something must have moved them, you would imagine. And that, ultimately, is the legacy that memes and punchlines cannot erase about Undertale. There is a reason why Undertale is such a young game, all things told, and yet it can still be seriously posed as one of the greatest games of all time. There is a reason why Undertale was fit enough to be included in a game like Super Smash Bros., a fighting game intent on honoring classic games that have influenced the industry.
People love Undertale in such a palpable way because it was an earnest game, and that’s not something we often see in this space. It’s much easier to be ironic, negative, or splashy than it is to do the quieter work of being vulnerable. Even if you don’t like the game, you cannot play Undertale without feeling that Toby Fox deeply cares. And, more radically, that Undertale wants you to care beyond the usual impulse to win and conquer a game. In a medium where games are often more preoccupied with merely entertaining you or fixing your attention for as long as possible, Undertale’s overwhelming compassion is a rare experience.
All of this was on display on social media on Sept. 15, where folks congregated to celebrate both the highly-produced concert and the game’s fifth anniversary via sincere posts and great fan art. Below, a small selection. Enjoy.
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