Review: Undertale (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Review: Undertale (Switch)

by James Charlton

Reading this review fills you with determination.

Undertale has to be one of the most requested indie games to be put on Nintendo systems, and now it’s finally here! To the uninitiated, on the surface it may look like a simplistic adventure game or Earthbound ROM hack, but once you start playing you realise there is so much more to it. Note that this was my first experience playing the game, so if you’re in the same boat as me, hop in and let me explain to you why this game is great. If you’re a long time fan whose being playing since the original PC version, skip to the last couple of paragraphs to see if it’s worth you buying this game again.

The first thing that hits you is the writing quality. The story grabs you from the very start, quickly dragging you into this bizarre world filled with memorable scenes and characters even in the first hour. Then the skeletons make their entrance, and the jokes come in thick and fast and don’t really stop until the very end of the game. It quickly becomes clear that the designer Toby Fox has a deep love of internet humour and Japanese culture, without sounding like a try-hard or feeling awkward. My favourite character is Mettaton, a robot designed for entertainment, and killing. It’s very rare to have a game that is genuinely funny throughout and is an achievement that shouldn’t be overlooked. Undertale is also not without some wonderfully touching and surprising moments, and as such works best if you go in knowing as little as possible.

All of this impact from a game that looks like it was drawn in Microsoft Paint? You better believe it. The simplistic graphic style definitely works in its favour, allowing the script and your imagination to fill in the gaps. The overworld definitely has the trimmings of Earthbound on SNES whereas the battles look like a Commodore 64 game, but it all has a modern sheen. Nothing ever feels jarring despite all the wacky art that gets thrown at you.

As someone with a love/hate relationship with RPGs (mainly the latter), I was anxious about how much grinding and back-tracking I would be tasked with. Well now I know the answer - none. The pacing is pretty much spot on. You are always aware of where you’re supposed to be going and you almost always have everything you need right in front of you. This is definitely the RPG for people who like the idea of the genre, but dislike all the negative parts that usually come as part of the package.

I am not spoiling anything that isn’t in the game description, but Undertale lets you tackle enemies how you see fit. You always have the choice to “fight” or “act,” and the outcome all depends on your personal preference. There are upsides and downsides to both options and the game adapts / rewards / punishes your play-style in several clever ways meaning this is a game you’ll want to play through more than once.

The combat is also unlike anything I’ve played before, making what would normally be dull menu-based fights into a dynamic and always unique experience. Think of JRPGs that put emphasis on timing and movement, but add in layers of conversation and witty comebacks that would normally be reserved for conversations with NPCs in a town outside of battle. It’s genius, and you never really know what’s coming next.

The Nintendo Switch version is based on the previous console release on Sony’s consoles, and with it the Japanese localisation provided by 8-4. There are also a few small Switch exclusives that we won’t spoil for you (unless you want us to) but super-fans are surely going to want the newest and best version of the game out there and this is probably it. The biggest exclusive feature is the one that comes with every Switch game - you can now play it on the train.

As a clueless bystander watching this game blow up both in the west and here in Japan, I couldn’t quite understand why this game had such appeal. Now I know why; it’s funny, charming, easy-to-play, and stays with you once you finish it, begging you to play through it again and again. The only real downside is that it feels short, but only in the same way a slice of your favourite cake feels too small.

I can’t really imagine anyone who wouldn’t enjoy Undertale, nor would I want to.

Final Score: 10

[Review code provided by 8-4, Ltd.]

No comments: