Undertale Mops the Floor with Its Competition, Wins GameFAQs’s “Best Game Ever” Contest, and Generates Record Quantities of Sodium Chloride


You may or may not have heard of Undertale, an RPG created by a gentleman named Toby Fox in humble little GameMaker. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it conquered GameFAQs’s “Best. Game. Ever” contest, and in the process produced enough salt from the site’s user base to turn every body of water on Earth into the Dead Sea five times over.

To wit: in each match in which it was a contestant, Undertale was carried to victory by a groundswell of support from outside visitors to the site—mostly from Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter, but it also got non-negligible help from sources like Facebook, Steam, and 4chan. In most cases, the wins were decisive, with the final victory against The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time coming in at a margin of almost 20 percent. On its way to the top of the mountain, Undertale took down stone-cold classics like Fallout 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, and Super Smash Bros. Melee—quite an accomplishment for a game that isn’t even a year old.

I stopped posting on GameFAQs forums almost a decade ago for the same reason one stops eating their boogers or sleeping with a night-light: because even in an age where the definition of “growing up” is more mutable than ever, you have to draw the line somewhere. The GameFAQs forums are lousy with obnoxious children and stodgy mouth-breathers with stagnant opinions that lack nuance. The site may be a nonpareil source of information for beating tricky games, but its forums have long held a less-than-great reputation for their fusty interface and users more juvenile than those usually found on the Internet. So what better way to spend a night on the site than watching those tears flow like sweet summer rain? Heck, I even happily chipped in a few votes for Undertale myself.

(I should make one thing immediately clear: I haven’t played Undertale yet. Someone gifted it to me on Steam for my birthday, but I haven’t touched it. I have managed to avoid spoilers up to now. Hopefully this incident lights a fire under me to start it sooner rather than later.)

Here is a sampling of some of the juiciest morsels of schadenfreude, gleaned from the subject lines of threads on pertinent boards and a few refreshes thereof.

Who cares about the contest?

how the f did this happen (thread created by user Triforce133)

So now that the Undertale posse ruined the contest, let’s have one without it.

Well, at least all of the superior games are winning in the bonus matches.[1]

I’m not going to buy Undertale as a result of the contest.

Ocarina wins again!

Now that OOT won GOAT, what’s the next contest?

And my favorite:

Is God dead? (text of thread creator’s post: “How else could this happen?”)

There are so many sumptuous flavors of anguish in the excerpts above: feigned indifference, total bafflement, revisionist history, taking one’s toys and playing elsewhere, comfort in the superiority of one’s tastes, impotent boycott, baldfaced denial, existential crisis. I could gorge myself on any of them.


Allen Tyner (aka Sailor Bacon or SBAllen), head administrator of GameFAQs, made a sticky post on the contest board explaining how there was no grand conspiracy behind Undertale‘s victory, which is the definition of casting pearls before swine if I ever heard it. While a generous gesture, it seems almost mind-bogglingly naive of Tyner, who has run GameFAQs for eight years, to believe that such a long-winded explanation will assuage anyone’s feelings, or that anyone will give a crap about it. What a colossal waste of time and keystrokes.

Some have compared Undertale‘s upset to the infamous 2007 rout by the L-block from Tetris in that summer’s Character Battle, but it would be generous to call that analogy flawed. Certainly, L-Block’s victory was the result of something much bigger than any individual user. But it’s a bit of a reach to call the L-block a “character”. Undertale, on the other hand, is a legitimate game that appears to have inspired a substantial amount of passion and emotion in those that have played and enjoyed it. One would think the surge in popularity of a brash newcomer would drive people to see what qualities it might possess that cause large quantities of people to sing even greater hosannas unto it than to established classics like Final Fantasy VII and Pokémon Blue. But that would require GameFAQs users to approach change with level heads and measured responses, which, ell em ay oh.

GameFAQs users, remember this day in the event that Donald Trump gets voted president. Because if he does, it will be for the same reason Undertale beat all those games you say you love: because of the simple fact that you failed to rally the troops and get off your duffs and out-vote people who cared passionately about their pet cause.

[1] GameFAQs held a grudge match after the finals, for an assortment of games that either got close to winning it all or lost via a bad beat. This appears to have been planned, but the Undertale hubbub adds a delightfully bittersweet layer to the proceedings. (For what it’s worth, the most recently released game in the grudge match is Super Smash Bros. Melee, which is 14 years old.)


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