Undertale's Unused Music Is Pretty Sweet

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For the past week, infamously reclusive Undertale creator Toby Fox has been celebrating the RPG mega-hit’s first anniversary with tidbits and snippets (but sadly no butterscotch cinnamon pie). The best part? Music that never made it into the final game.

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First up, an early version of Alphys’ lab:

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Here’s a version of Undyne’s theme before it was really Undyne’s theme (but it still sounds pretty good):

This one is just called “Dog Hole”:

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Self explanatory:

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And here’s a more somber take on what ultimately the big, triumphant, bittersweet main theme:

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Fox also posted a brief retrospective about Undertale’s unexpected popularity, where he said he still thinks it’s “about an 8/10, niche RPG game,” but added that it made him happy when the game legitimately moved people.

“But, the game became very popular. Unavoidable, even. At the height of its popularity, ‘not liking the game’ felt like a cardinal sin to many fans online. In reaction to these circumstances, others began actively hate the game, creating an endless whirlwind of discourse… Like a thunderclap to a small dog, all of this attention stressed me out. And every time it seemed to die down, something revived it, such as the GameFAQs contest, the award shows, bizarre theory videos, and so on. At times, I wished I had a way to quell the attention. I felt a strange powerlessness. (And guilt, for feeling stressed when the success of the game SHOULD be something I’m nothing but ecstatic about.)”

“At the same time, countless wonderful things were happening. People told me the game helped them through a difficult part of their life. Others told me that the game had made them laugh, or cry, or say ‘I want to be kinder.’ Many young kids told me they wanted to create games or music because of it. And, on a personal level, because of its popularity, I have been able to help myself and many people in my life. (And, hopefully, in the future, I can help many other people because of it, too.)”

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Lastly, Fox held a Q&A with the game’s characters that... well, just go experience it for yourself.

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Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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DISCUSSION

thetruekamai
Ka Mai - New and Improved

Playing Undertale is like reading a beautiful haiku it its original Japanese. Someone who doesn’t speak Japanese can hear the sounds and appreciate their aesthetic beauty, or they can read a translation and appreciate the meaning, but they’ll never get the entire experience or be moved by it the way a native speaker would.

As someone who grew up with JRPGs and oddball games like Earthbound, Undertale was a beautiful poem written in my native language. It spoke in ways that would be impossible in any other medium while arranging the language of video games into a new configuration like nothing I’d ever seen before. It took all the usual components and worked with them in new and incredibly impactful ways. When the game gave me the option to save, then told me “You can not save yourself. But with what energy you have left, perhaps you can save someone else,” I looked down to realize I was standing, mouth agape. I don’t remember standing up.

It’s one of the few games that actually feels as important and monumental in its medium as any work of fine art or literature you could name. Like a haiku, it’s minimalist. Nothing is wasted, and so every piece is important. Every element is there to reinforce its message and its themes, and each of those elements is exactly where, when, and how it needs to be to do so.