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Friday, December 18, 2015

Momentary Memetic Messes don't Mosey in Memory

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - If you're relying on meme power, you won't last long.

What are the games that stand the test of time? The games that are still talked about and talked fondly of even though they're pretty old? The recent GameFAQs Best. Game. Ever. 2015 contest could shed light on this question. The games that made the top, for the most part, are (really) old and have very solid game design fundamentals.

There's an exception to that, which is the September 2015 release Undertale. Which won the whole tournament, to my dismay. Its finals opponent, a former champion, didn't even try.

GameFAQs Undertale spite poll
I voted for the last option, and was the 5th person to vote in the poll! (And was the 2nd person to vote the last option at the time.)

Yeah, I'm spiteful. I know it isn't logical and people have pointed it out to me already. So be more original in your comments in the comments section for this, okay?

Anyway, people claim that Undertale, a quirky game made by one dude, is amazing and changed their life or whatever. These people are freaks from tumblr who are very impressionable and probably have a crappy life up to that point, so it's pretty easy to change their lives. I'd give props if their lives are changed for the better, but all it seemed to have done is make them waste more time on tumblr and become "salt miners" where they voted for Undertale just to make GameFAQs and myself mad. That's not being a good person or being a change for the better.

They really like Undertale partly because of its "witty writing", and that's apparently expressed by people repeating the same few lines as memes over and over. This is a problem. 

Games that climax popularity based on weird characters giving weird quotes don't get talked about some years later. Even if they're fantastic games! This is going to be Undertale's fate.

Undertale Sans meme you're gonna have a bad time screenshot
"you're gonna have a bad time."
 
I don't know what's witty or great writing about that, and I'd know as a writer myself. But that's what people repeat all the time like automatons. It's not like these tumblr people have critical thinking.

Let's look back at games with similar characters. What comes to my mind is Fawful from the very awesome and widely-acclaimed 2003 title, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. That guy just dropped quotes that everyone repeated over and over, and it was proliferated by the fact that everyone was making sprite comics with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga's awesome sprites. Fawful himself LOOKS like Sans (the skeleton in the above screenshot).

Fawful mustard of your doom Mario Luigi Superstar Saga screenshot
"The mustard of your doom!"

AlphaDream got the impression that Fawful was so popular that he got promoted from being the sub-villain in Superstar Saga to being the main villain in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. Yet when people talk about Bowser's Inside Story (and I don't think people really do, sadly) they don't talk about Fawful and his long list of quotes. They talk about how awesome it is to play as King Dad! No one talks about Fawful at all anymore. Most recent thing he's done for us was me voting for him two years ago in round 1 of the GameFAQs Character Contest.

When Portal came out and about one-two years after, everyone always kept saying "the cake is a lie." 'cause that was a very memorable quote from GLaDOS. Off this memetic power, Valve made Portal 2 and now no one says "the cake is a lie" or really talks about Portal 2 or Portal for that matter. (Everyone is still waiting for Half-Life 3.)

Of course, I'm speaking in generalities. Some people do and will still cling to these old memes. Just look at Ninja Pig Studios and Jordan Schuetz and his new game, Bigley's Revenge. (From the maker of Meme Run.) ...Warning: Have your sound on low at the beginning and end of the videos. Or just don't actually watch it. It'll probably get deleted off his channel in a month or three anyway. This trailer is new as of...today.



Yeah, this is an extreme example. But it's an example of one of those losers who cling to outdated memes. Everyone sees Jordan Schuetz as a loser. Basically what'll happen if you repeat Undertale quotes five years ago is that you'll be seen the same way. What's cool now will be seen as lame later. Unless you truly have staying power, which comes from great gaming experiences, not fly-by-night fad memes.

That said, sometimes I wish we were still in the early 2000s and people said "pwn" and thought "1337" was a notable number. That's probably more nostalgia for my Nintendo NSider Forum days than me thinking those are good ideas, but still.


Ludwig will probably be repeating quotes from his own games for years to come, along with inside jokes. He's allowed to, since he made them. This includes the Ludwig-made "Division" meme and his continued fanboyism over Captain Vul, along with occasionally using music notes inspired by Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Guildmaster Wigglytuff.


A guest-poster tries to tackle what gets Undertale's fanbase so fired up.

26 comments :

  1. I... I came here to defend Undertale... but I was taken aback by your dismissal of Fawful! I praise Fawful every chance I get, that guy's hilarious! XD And you put down Portal and Portal 2 in the same article? What is this, the "Dismiss stuff Sam likes" article??? :P

    Anyway, Undertale's staying power is NOT from its memes. If it had no quotes about determination or having a bad time (which, by the way, I haven't even seen in the game, because you only get that line if you murder everyone, so it's not nearly as important to Undertale's appeal as you seem to think), it would still have had an impact. Undertale is not appealing to people because of its memes, that would be silly. It's appealing to people because it has good music, hilarious dialogue, some shocking twists, some emotional moments, numerous secrets/tricks, and a story and characters you grow to love.

    Not to mention the novelty of an RPG where you CAN kill your enemies, but can also resolve each conflict peacefully, in a system that (at least to me) is more nuanced and arguably realistic than the standard karma/morality systems used in games.

    Now, I don't know about the people on Tumblr. Maybe they really do only care about its memes. But if someone says Undertale changed their life, and means it, I suspect that means Undertale taught them to try to work out their differences with other people and not seek out conflict with people they disagree with (ironically, that seems the opposite of what you say the Tumblr people do, hence my disclaimer at the start of this paragraph).

    What gives a game staying power? You talked a lot about what DOESN'T, but what does? You mentioned game design and playing as Bowser... does that mean you don't think story and characters contribute? (This story-driven game fan is shocked! XD)

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    1. Now, now, hold ooonnnn. I like Fawful! I said I voted for him over plumber and Duke Nukem. Probably isn't saying much, and I wouldn't hypothetically vote for him over Vivi. But I still like him.

      (People don't see the Genocide run as the "true" ending of the game but believe it's still mandatory playing to get the most out of Undertale! And the most coveted music, since you brought that up, is apparently "Megalovania", which would come from that run!)

      ...Not gonna disagree with you on the lack of nuance in standard karma/morality systems. Hey, I did vote Undertale against Mass Effect 3 and Fallout 3 and would do that again.

      I don't really know what goes on in the minds of tumblr people. They really are missed up. I will say notably, that pro Super Smash Bros. Melee players Toph and Scar literally betrayed Melee and actually rallied for Undertale to win. Scar having just finished Undertale the day before. He claimed it had a huge effect on his life. I'm not sure how one can claim that when you haven't lived enough of your life to know.

      https://twitter.com/bobbyscar/status/675916226003001344
      https://twitter.com/bobbyscar/status/675919022446149632

      Undertale also should teach people that "trying to work out their differences with other people and not seek out conflict with people they disagree with" doesn't always work. It might always work in the underground with this set of monsters, but in the real world, there's another set of monsters who will take that as a sign of weakness. These monsters include folks like ISIS.

      What does give it staying power? Well, that's a bit more complicated! I do think story and characters contribute, which is why we still obsess over Ace Attorney. That said, question: Would we obsess over Ace Attorney as strongly if it didn't get sequels? Do individual games in Ace Attorney get this staying power, or is it really the franchise as a whole?

      Delete
    2. Vivi from Final Fantasy IX? Oh, I wouldn't vote for Fawful over him either, as much as I love Fawful.

      (I intend to watch someone else play the genocide run, because I want to know that part of the story. I can't do it myself, though. I thought I could steel myself to kill these characters I grew to know and love, and then a character acknowledged that I could kill everyone and begged me not to. That was more than I could take. xD)

      I think there's some irony here in that you use Tumblr more than I do...

      I don't know these people, so I can't comment on them betraying Melee. xD

      ...IT DOES. XD
      At the end of the pacifist run, one of the most important characters to the story says... basically exactly what you said. (Except without mentioning ISIS.) To be specific:

      "Be careful in the outside world, OK? Despite what everyone thinks, it's not as nice as it is here. There are a lot of Floweys out there. And not everything can be resolved by just being nice."

      (For that matter, the genocide run itself proves that very point... by allowing the PLAYER to become a merciless murderer who can't be reasoned with, and presenting the other characters as heroes for fighting you to try to protect others.)

      I was wondering that about Ace Attorney myself. If there was just one game, would it be remembered? I think sequels definitely help...

      Delete
    3. Yes, Vivi from FF9.

      (Sissy.)

      Yeah, I use tumblr more than you do. ...It's purely for business purposes! I'm not enjoying it or anything! I'm always suspicious of people who are all, "check out my tumblr" and have a tumblr as their primary outlet.

      Yeah, I KNOW it does that. But here's the thing: What lesson are you learning from that point? "Avoiding conflict is good except when you shouldn't" doesn't mean anything and isn't going to change anyone's life.

      Hm, let's think on the Ace Attorney bit harder.

      Delete
    4. (Hey, I won't even kill sleeping Grunts in Halo, so what do you expect? I can't be a complete monster in a game when the game itself criticizes me, the player, for being a complete monster just to satisfy my curiosity.)

      I'm still unsure of how tumblr (as microblogging) and regular blogging can be used together.

      Well, that's life. xD Sometimes you can avoid conflict. Sometimes you can't. Undertale can still teach the lesson that you can often work out your differences with other people. And that complete pacifism is difficult.

      Delete
    5. (Do you think that the way that Undertale criticises the player through narrative is a good way for a game to communicate a lesson?)

      http://koopatv.tumblr.com/ The KoopaTV tumblr exists to get people to click over to our site. That's it. Then hope they aren't smart enough to pick up on the disdain I have for them. Since they're on tumblr, they probably aren't.

      I guess it's sort of worth teaching basic life lessons to tumblr users because they don't even have those, but to everyone else, there isn't much to learn there.

      Delete
    6. (In a case like this, yes. I believe it makes you consider your actions more carefully when you, the player, are addressed.)

      Do you have success with it? Do you get clicks and readers from tumblr?

      I think many people could use a good lesson about such things. And if it's in a fun, non-preachy form, all the better.

      Delete
    7. (You don't see it as condescending and put-off-ish?)

      Um... a small few. It's more successful if you write about something big that tumblr really likes.

      Sometimes that gets likes and reblogs but no clicks.

      So Undertale ISN'T preachy? I've heard otherwise. And it seems otherwise.

      Delete
    8. (If the game was like, "Choose this option and you're a horrible person, player!" that would be condescending and put-off-ish. But because of Undertale's relationship with the fourth wall, it isn't like that. Technically speaking, Flowey isn't aware of the player. He's acknowledging Frisk's ability to reset the timeline and kill everyone. And he doesn't say you'd be a horrible person. He just said he doesn't want you to kill everyone. It's up to the player to question themselves or not.)

      Hmm, I see. I think I'll stick with my current social media forms right now.

      It doesn't feel preachy to me. Characters are upset if you kill someone they care about. That's not preachy, it's realistic. To me it's no more preachy than, say, Tales of Symphonia.

      As a counter-example, Dragon Age 2 really got on my nerves with its portrayal of the mage/templar conflict. I felt like it was trying to tell me I'd be a horrible person if I sided with the templars. Since it refused to show me through the story, and instead just beat me over the head with it, I sided with the templars partly out of spite.

      Delete
    9. (...)

      That person you "consulted" to help you seems to endorse Pinterest a lot. ...I still don't really know what a Pinterest is.

      Oh hey you feel spite too. ^_^

      Delete
    10. Pinterest is an image-based site. In my writing class this semester, we talked a little about how writers can use Pinterest, though I still don't think it would be best for me. Basically, you find images that you like and "pin" them, and other people can pin your images as well.

      Yes, though I know I shouldn't. And you know about my grudge against RE4, too.

      By the way, in all my Undertale excitement, I kept forgetting to say it: nice alliteration in the title.

      Delete
    11. It might work better for us since we frequently make our own images here, but for you? Nah.

      Thank you very much, Samantha. ^.^

      Delete
  2. During my run on Team Naughty, I came a across a player named Frisk on Team Nice. I made sure the player got what was deserved, the contents of a Slosher. My team won that match, too. Also, I have not looked at all posts on both teams during the week but I did see more Undertale stuff on Team Nice though Team Naughty did get the flower in their posts.

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    1. There were lots of Undertale "You're gonna have a bad time" stuff.

      I played Smash for the first time since the Direct (and got Cloud) and went to the online tournament mode.

      There was a Mii named Sans with the tag BADTIME or something like that.

      I won.

      Delete
  3. I think your analysis is very spot on. Undertale is very much a 'meme' game... it's popular due to the community surrounding it and not due to anything the game actually does.

    I've actually become aware that on top of everything the game does wrong, from a mechanical standpoint, the game actually outright plagiarizes from other RPG's, most notably Earthbound.

    http://i.4cdn.org/v/1450662254679s.jpg

    Yes, this is real, and far from the only example. Undertale, simply put, does nothing interesting or new on even a basic level. It's basically what would happen if whoever made Meme Run put it into RPG form.

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    1. It's a meme and a fad. The community surrounding is well-known for going from one thing to the next, totally abandoning older things after they have a new shiny object.

      Dat .jpg is reaaaaally small. Can't see it.

      Somehow I doubt Ninja Pig Studios/Jordan Schuetz would try to put any kind of morals into Meme Run RPG.

      Delete
    2. Oh yeah, definitely. Even now, it's dying off a lot. The actual gaming community seems really put off by it and it's fans. It's only the YouTubers who continue to latch onto it at this point, and we all know how credible they are.

      The recent revelation that Fox stole at least one track from Earthbound (Saturn's Valley) really pops even the common 'the music is great!' argument.

      http://cheezburger.com/8594331648

      As I said, the entire game is built on plagiarizing a game the creator claims to care about.

      Delete
    3. Well, YouTubers may not be credible, but they are numerous.

      If Undertale is dying off already, they're not letting it be shown. The Cheezburger page is assailed with thumbs-down and comments. They're still everywhere. If they weren't, they wouldn't be able to succeed vs. GameFAQs.

      So actually, I want to hear how you came to the conclusion it's dying off a lot already.

      That said, from what I can tell, the population in general doesn't really care about plagiarism. *shrug* After all, they do it themselves in school!

      Delete
  4. Now what are your thoughts on recent "controversies" regarding North American versions of Nintendo games putting in a meme or two into the dialogue? However, this was only limited to that Badge Arcade game and Tri Force Heroes (which only had one "doge" meme despite what people might make you believe), when other games like Splatoon, Xenoblade X and Super Mario Maker had none of that. Unfortunately, this came at the exact same time when the Western versions of some of Nintendo's games were being "censored" during localization and all of this made people assume that NOA is being affected by SJW culture, since SJWs apparently value memes and political correctness over everything else rofl.

    In fact, I'd probably blame another game instead that was praised for its "writing" called Borderlands for why we're seeing developers sneak in memes into their games. It became "hip" to appeal to juvenile little shits on the internet since the game was written by a Youtube personality (who's quite the interesting personality, him and his sister). And now we're going to see more of the same with Undertale's popularity.

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    1. Gates to Infinity had a "call me maybe" thing in there that's going to sit there already outdated.

      The fact that these are “controversies” to some people is just stupid. This isn't the first time this has happened (see 1337 Hammer Bros. in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, which is outdated and incoherent to most people — though not me) and it's generally a short-sighted decision. But that's evidence that NOA is living in the moment, not, uh, some SJW invasion.

      Delete
    2. Did you see that fit people made when Tri Force Heroes had a "doge" meme snuck into one of the books in the game?

      Now people will assume that NOA will do more the same "censorship" and meme inclusion in future games as long as Miiverse brats eat it up. What do you mean by "living in the moment" though?

      Delete
    3. I artfully dodged the fit people made. I saw that it existed but didn't stick around and read what people thought.

      By "living in the moment" I mean that they're putting present-time memes/references in there that will make the game seem VERY dated in a few years, instead of being a timeless classic. Imagine if Chrono Trigger put early '90s memes into the game.

      ...Robo's theme being "Never Gonna Give You Up" doesn't count.

      Delete
    4. Alright, but are you going to boycott Nintendo's games like some stupid shits on the internet are claiming that they're going to do because of what NOA's doing right now? NOA wanted to avoid possible controversy with their recent localizations but they still manufactured it unfortunately.

      Delete
    5. I don't boycott videogames because of localisation-related things.

      I'll get petty grudges with games (Undertale) and never buy them, but not for a localisation reason. I mean, that means that if I'm boycotting something over localisation, that I did want the game at some point but I'm holding it against the game for something NOA or whoever did to it.

      They'd have to do something extreme and absurd in localisation for me to do that. Like, if we had Super Paper Mario and to localise it they removed Bowser as a playable character. Obviously that'd never happen.

      Back in the #Miiquality days, KoopaTV was on the front lines defending Nintendo over the onslaught of misinformation regarding homosexuality and Tomodachi Life. Like, literally we were on the front lines and that's one of the few times we can make a statement like that and not exaggerate. We spent a looot of time on that back in 2014 because opposing the dangerous #Miiquality was a cause worth fighting for.

      Doesn't mean I was interested in Tomodachi Life as a game or anything, since I don't really care for that type of game to begin with.

      Delete
    6. Now, do you think Nintendo and other companies need to validate their reasons for why they made changes to *insert Japanese game here* just to make those whiners shut up? Because when I want a reason to hate them, I totally bitch that I want explanations about every single change they make or else I write them off as SJWs for sure!

      For example, take that Vita game Dungeon Travelers 2 which contains tons of underaged girls in many stages of undress and in various sexual positions. Atlus sent out a PR report stating that they had to edit scenes in the game to avoid an AO rating, but this was aimed at not only the press and consumers, but also retailers who would refuse to sell it if it WAS uncensored. In short, retailers don't care about whether of not something was "censored" or had a meme snuck in, they just want the game on their shelves.

      I'll end our conversations on this issue with a quote from an expert localizer, Brian Gray: “The best translators I know in the business are hopeless perfectionists. They pick apart the dialogue and see the pros and cons and different reactions people can have; they step into the shoes of different gamers from different walks of life and agonize, and I mean really agonize, over what the right way to represent each line is. I’m personally against content that degrades or hurts people—who paid money, and are expecting to have fun—but I also know that I have a responsibility to maintain fidelity to the original—because other people also paid money, and are expecting that. There is no striking a balance, so all I can do is present the argument to the creators or publisher, whenever possible, and see how they want to handle it. Sometimes it goes one way, sometimes the other. Usually it goes in the direction of not degrading people, and I can only assume that’s because the market is still responding more positively to that course of action.”

      Delete
    7. Nah, I don't think they need to make some sort of public document explaining things. I also think that would just dump a lot of spoilers, possibly!

      Thanks for the conversation, though. You're welcome to stick around KoopaTV, and non-anonymously, too!

      Delete

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