Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

For a few hours, Undertale is a solid, charming game. Then you get to the ending — the real ending — and suddenly you get why everyone's so obsessed. In fact, I'd argue that Undertale's true final boss — which you can only see by completing the game as a pacifist — is on par with the best finales in RPG history, rivaling games like Earthbound and Chrono Trigger in sheer gut-wrenching poignancy. Undertale might also have the best boss music of any video game to date. (Don't listen to it until you've fought said boss, though.)

If you've finished Undertale but haven't gotten the true ending, you haven't really finished Undertale. The good news is that it's not hard to get: Just complete the game without killing anyone and make sure to befriend every major character. If you're level 1 at the end, you're golden. Go finish the game and then wander around until you get a phone call. Follow the directions from there.

If you have seen the true ending, let's talk about it.

SPOILER WARNING: DON'T SCROLL PAST THE DOG IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED UNDERTALE.

Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

Let's set the stage. Asriel, the misguided demon prince who has been following and hounding your character for the whole damn game, has absorbed your friends' souls and emerged from flower form just in time to play with you.

"It's me," he says. "Your best friend."

Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

This is something of a shocker: You'd heard of Asriel, the child of Asgore and Toriel, but who would have thought he was actually Flowey the whole time? The first character you meet in the game, the one who tries to convince you that the mantra of Undertale's world really is "kill or be killed"? That was Asriel all along? It's a good thing you never listened, or else you wouldn't be here.

Anyway, Asriel's here to fight you. And he brought along one hell of a theme song.

At first this feels like any other fight, one you can win by outlasting your opponent and saying the right things. But you'll soon realise that your only interaction options are "Hope" and "Dream" — certainly not enough to convince this demon child to go away.

As Asriel starts firing attacks at you, whipping out shooting stars and energy beams in an attempt to blast you to oblivion, he'll explain that he just wants things to go back to how they used to be. He wants to hit the reset button and go back to before. Before that first human ruined everything. Before an interloper named Frisk started trying to save the world.

At some point during this barrage of bullets, you might lose all your HP. You'll start to see the standard Game Over screen. Then this will happen...

Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

You can't die, of course. You just can't. You're too determined.

After a couple dozen rounds with Asriel, he'll start to realise that he can't destroy you. He'll say you've only seen a fraction of his true power — classic RPG boss, am I right? — and then he'll grow technicolor wings. The music will swell once again.

Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

You don't have many options at this point. Your health is low but you can't use healing items. You can't fight or spare or even try to run away. Your only command option is "Struggle", which is more than a little disconcerting. You begin to worry that you did something wrong and that you'll have to start again.

At this point it becomes clear that, if you're going to win, you're going to have to do something drastic. Earlier, you'd learned that you the player can manipulate events in the world of Undertale through save-files, so that's what you'll try to do. But Asriel stops you. By absorbing all of those souls, he's gained the ability to block your powers.

"Seems SAVING the game really is impossible," Undertale tells you. "But... Maybe, with what little power you have... You can SAVE something else."

That's when you figure it out. You're going to have to save your friends.

Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

There are six major "friends" in Undertale, and up until this battle, I hadn't cared too much about any of them. I found Papyrus's brash stupidity to be annoying, not charming. I thought Asgore was a big dumb doofus and I just couldn't stand Alphys and her nerdery. (Undyne can do so much better.)

Then this fight happened.

As the music swells up and down, you'll gradually save each friend, dodging their old attacks and bringing them back from the abyss by reminding them of the memories you've shared. Crosswords! Spaghetti! Butterscotch pie! It's an incredible few minutes, enhanced by the stakes, the music, and, for me, the sudden realisation that these characters are actually kinda cool. Yeah, even Alphys.

Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

Once you've rescued your friends, you'll realise that you have one more soul to save. And if you're not already bawling as you mash the SAVE button over and over again during the final part of this fight, well... You will.

Undertale Has One Of The Greatest Final Boss Fights In RPG History

The whole sequence is spectacular — the payoff of this battle justifies even the slowest of Undertale's setups. And the music. Dear lord, the music! Over the weekend I listened to the final boss theme while doing dishes and it was wonderful. Felt like I was saving those plates' souls.

For a long time I was sceptical that Undertale could live up to the hype, and even as I played through the game — on New Year's Eve of all days — I didn't buy into the breathless adoration. Then I fought Asriel. It's hard to imagine a better ending to 2015.


Comments

    To be honest the Asriel themes were probably my least favourite from the game apart from the Flowey themes, they just felt a bit too over the top, something that I liked in game but outside of it feel pretty cheesy. My favourites would have to be the Undyne (NGAHH!! on the bandcamp page) track, the track that plays as you are traversing the Hotlands (Another Medium on the bandcamp page), the Core theme (CORE) and the track that plays in the true laboratory (unlisted on the bandcamp page but titled Here We Are). Honourable mentions would go to the track that plays as you have dinner with Sans at the hotel (It's raining somewhere else), the Spider theme (Spider Dance), the Asgore theme and the waterfall theme (Waterfall). The fight itself was great, but the music isn't really my cup of tea outside of the context of the game.

    One of my favourite things with Undertale is to do with names and the meaning behind them.
    Sans & Papyrus are obvious references to the fonts Comic Sans & Papyrus, considering they both speak in said fonts. The character W. D. Gaster (who is fan theorized to be a third skeleton) is a reference to the font Wingdings as he communicates in that font as well. Also, the Aster part of his name is yet ANOTHER font that is the same one used when Sans snores during his fight on the genocidal route.
    Undyne is both a reference to the water elemental Undine, as well as a play on words referring to her being undying.
    Alphys is a potential reference to the air elemental Sylph, but her name is also an anagram of "Shy Pal", of which she definitely tries to be.
    Mettaton is a reference to Metatron, an archangel known as the Recording Angel, as well as a compound of "met a ton" to reference his fame as a TV personality.
    Toriel, Asgore and Asriel Dreemurr are all anagrams, being "Murderer Toiler", "Sage or Murderer" & "Serial Murderer" repectively. Toriel and Asgore also refer to their appearance, "toro" referring to bull and "ogre" referring to... well, an ogre. Toriel also acts as the tutorial (tu-toriel).

    You kids and your UndiesTrails.

    Get off my lawn!

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