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Scruffy Undertale Adventures (Part 5) – Lore

The following screenshots illustrate the background lore to Undertale.

The various monsters I have spared throughout the game came and told me the lore of the underworld in a series of random encounters. Seriously, check out these monster designs.

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Cultural Significance in Art (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cultural significance of art and what gives a piece of art the kind of longevity enjoyed by the works of people like Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dickens, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Picasso and others. I’m wondering a lot about the art that has been produced since the millennium and if that art is worthy of things like Guernica or Macbeth.

Picasso’s Guernica. Image from Encyclopaedia Brittanica

I have recently studied the concept of creativity from a linguistic standpoint and feel like this may be, subconsciously, why I have been thinking about this. My study materials offered a definition of creativity which I found useful. The introduction to the block of study titled “Language, Creativity & Humour” states that:

“for something to be creative, it must be:

  1. novel
  2. appropriate to the task at hand
  3. considered to be of high quality.”

So, this gives us a functional definition of what creativity is but assigns no level of significance or importance to it. Is, for example, Banksy’s Love is in the Bin (the self-shredding framed print which sold at Sotheby’s for £860,000) more, less or equally as important as Petscop, the mysterious Playstation game Let’s Play YouTube series? The Banksy piece is more likely to be thought of as culturally significant by those educated in art, but Petscop uses modern technologies (Playstation, coding, YouTube) in novel ways which are “appropriate to the task at hand” and the cult-like following, or fandom, on forums such as Reddit and YouTube certainly perceive it to be of high quality. Saying that, by incorporating a shredder into the frame of Love is in the Bin, Banksy too used technology in a novel manner.


Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

How much of a factor in this is marketability? As previously noted, the Banksy piece managed to fetch £860,000 from obviously wealthy art collectors. Petscop, meanwhile, made by one person who had an idea for a mystery story and the skills to make it work, didn’t make any money as it was just released to the public free of charge. This reinforces observations I have made (and heard discussed in various media) about working class voices being frozen out of the arts. Working class people cannot afford to take the time, let alone the materials, to create engaging and well thought out pieces of art. This, however, is a topic for a different discussion.

The reason I chose these two pieces to discuss is because they are both very recent. Petscop ran between 2017 and 2019 while the Banksy piece was made in 2018.

People in the 21st century appear very reluctant to assign cultural significance to art, myself included. I can only think of a small number of pieces which I find possess that strange quality which lends cultural significance to something. I intend to write more about this going forward but, for now, here are some of the pieces of art made since the start of the 21st Century which I feel have enough cultural significance to carry them forward into the future in the same way as a Shakespeare play.

Petscop (2017-2019)

Petscop is a gripping mystery told through a new artistic medium: the YouTube Let’s Play video. The story goes that the narrator, Paul, found an old PlayStation game (with an important note) and decided to record his playthrough. What starts out as a colourful ad childlike game about catching pets soon turns into a dark and sinister mystery involving murder, child abuse and allusions to real life crimes. The series ran for 3 years and the creator, Tony (@pressedeyes on Twitter), planned, developed, coded, scripted and performed the whole thing. He even built that actual game (using it to record the videos rather than merely animating them) from scratch, using only technology and styles which would have been available for a PlayStation game.

Bob Dylan – Murder Most Foul (2020)

Released at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in the US & UK, Murder Most Foul is both a poetic retelling of the assassination of JFK and a mournful goodbye to post-war age we appear to be finally exiting. I wrote a review of this when it was released on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem.

Undertale (2015)

Undertale is a videogame that I am still playing but I am already convinced of it’s status as a masterpiece. I am already blogging about it regularly:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Going forward with this series of posts, I will consider other pieces and if they fit into this ideal or not. An important thing to consider is that the evolution of the technologies we use to produce art & entertainment will force us to not only create art in different ways but also give us more things to express and address in our art.

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Scruffy Undertale Adventures (Part 4)

So I came across this Spider Bakesale. You could buy Spider Donuts or Spider Cider. 9999 gold each. I declined.

This poor fool did not decline. He spent everything he had on a Spider Donut. Rookie error.

After a boss fight with the spider lady running the bakesale (Muffet), I was ambushed by the killer robot Mettaton again. This time he sung a romantic, operatic song for me. The words actually seemed to fit perfectly with the chiptune opera soundtrack.

He then opened up a trapdoor beneath me and I had to solve some puzzles to escape from a dungeon.

I met some of his fans outside.

I’d defeated these two Royal Guardsmen (on the right) earlier by convincing them that a) the one on the left had a crush on the one on the right and b) to go and have an ice cream. They found the Ice Cream Seller (left) and bought all his stock. They told me they were taking a raincheck on the whole killing me thing.

I then came across the Resort. I had some dinner with Sans. The note to the right of me said to check the alleyway for great deals. Fearing it might be a trap I decided to check anyway. Milking this game for all the content I can.

Down the alleyway I encountered these two teenage girls, Bratty and Catty, who also happen to be an alligator and a cat. They were a laugh.

After buying some junk food from them, I proceeded to enter the Resort. The lobby was full of interesting looking characters. Note the Mettaton statue in the fountain.

And that was the end of this evenings gaming.

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Scruffy Undertale Adventures (part 3)

So, I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. So got up and played some more Undertale. So here’s some noteworthy stuff that happened.

Firstly, I added a border to my game.There are only three to choose from but I chose the sepia one. So after leaving the Ghost’s house I arrived in the traditional ‘lava level’. Every game has one. The first thing I found after the save point was a laboratory. Inside the laboratory, the scientist was watching me on a huge monitor.

After meeting the scientist, Dr. Alphys, she tells me that she has built a robot to be the ultimate celebrity/superstar. Unfortunately, she has also programmed it to be a human killing machine. Just as she’s telling me this it bursts through the wall.

This then turns into a boss fight where I have to answer questions until either I die or the robot gets bored and leaves. After the fight, I head out into the lava zone, solve some puzzles and meet a few interesting characters while remaining in contact, via cellphone, with Alphys. These characters on the bridge are talking about the quiz show I was on with the killer robot.

A couple of minutes later, i seamlessly walk from a lava field into a picturesque kitchen and the killer superstar robot reappears.

After taking part in Cooking with a Killer Robot, I return back to the start of the lava area (just in front of the laboratory) via a newly unlocked elevator. Heading south I find a river with a boat.

I can’t help but thinking of this person as Charon. and this river as Styx. I decide to get in the boat and we head back to Snowdin, the obligatory ‘snow level’ from earlier in the game. En route, the boat person (named River Person on the Undertale wiki) sings a jolly tune.

Well, that’s all for now. I returned to the save point as my real life doggo had awoken and was demanding to be taken out for toileting and exercise. Until next time.

Aforementioned real life doggo

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Scruffy Undertale Adventures (part 2)

So next thing I found amusing enough to blog about was the Joke book in Sans and Papyrus’ house.

Also in the same town, I knocked on this door and the occupant said:

So I knocked again and:

Subsequent knocks were met with:

I also went for a burger at Grillby’s with Sans. He passed me the ketchup but loosened the lid first. The entire bottle’s worth went all over my burger. Cheers Sans.

Later, at a waterfall in the pouring rain I shared an umbrella with Monster Boy. We spotted a spooky looking castle in the distance.

After falling down from the waterfall into an underground landfill I am attacked by a ghost-possessed training dummy but saved by a ghost friend I’d met earlier. The ghost invited me to it’s house and fed me. After which it invited me to lay on the floor with it. Things went pretty cosmic when I accepted the invite.

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Undertale – first impressions

I’ve just started playing Undertale this afternoon on Nintendo Switch. First impressions are pretty good. I’m around an hour and half in and I’m really enjoying it. As well as a brief explanation, I’ve taken some screenshots that I think are amazing. These screenshots alone justify this post (in my humble opinion).

The game, at least so far, plays a little like a classic JRPG. The combat, for instance, shares visual similarities with the early Dragon Quest (or Dragon Warrior in Japan) games. The exploration is also similar to Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy. You walk around a 2D map solving puzzles and getting into random encounters.

The battle system is unique in that you don’t have to kill any of the enemies you fight. There is always another option. One monster I fought was a woodland creature a bit like a reindeer called a Gyftrot. Locals like to decorate the antlers of Gyftrots. You can “win” the battle by “undecorating” his antlers which makes him happy and you can select “Spare” from the combat menus.

I’m currently in a town called Snowdin. I love this bear’s grasp of political science.

Inside the bar, Grillby’s, that the bear is standing outside.

I previously had to fight the four dogs sat around the table in the four ground. I managed to spare them all from death with strategic petting. The two with armour and halberds had to be persuaded that I was a “strange puppy”. I had to roll around in the dirt and let them re-sniff me. Once they were convinced that I was a puppy, I then had to pet them again. Their minds were blown that dogs could pet other dogs and now they say their lives are changed forever.

Finally, I believe I may start using this picture at the top of any post I make about politics:

If you’re interested in this game, here’s a trailer to watch. Think it’s available on pretty much every platform except for Xbox. I bought it for Switch.

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