shamanicshaymin: Pit bull hiding in the leaves. :3 (Kyouko/Mami :: Gothic)
[personal profile] shamanicshaymin
So I wanted to finish my second playthrough of the Halloween Hack so I could write a big essay comparing its themes with Undertale's.

Dang. I don't know how I did it, but somehow I remembered this as a game where you save Dr. Andonuts, convince him that even he deserves forgiveness despite his self-loathing, and when all else fails, free him from his demons so he could rest in peace. Which wasn't what it was about at all.

After beating the game and reading all of Toby's notes, shades of Death of the Author are creeping in my brain. I never got the idea that Varik is a loser wannabe hero; he always came across as an experienced bounty hunter who in spite of his own failings (ex. drinking too much) goes out and gets the job done because it's what he must do. While I did feel claustrophobic in places, I didn't know the Halloween Hack was supposed to be a prototype of Undertale's genocide run. I think what threw me off was the turning point in the game where you decide whether or not to kill the monster in Dr. Andonuts' lab. By going outside of boundries, by refusing the choices provided for you and going against with Dr. Andonuts' wishes, you get to continue the game and are offered the opportunity to save Dr. Andonuts, or at least learn what happened that caused him to go insane. Whenever you recruit pieces of Dr. Andonuts' courage, I got the impression that you were working to save him and free him from his pain, not kill him in cold blood because you're supposed to and the game offers no other alternative like at the lab. It feels like the Madoka Rebellion movie all over again where the whole climax is dedicated to saving Homura and the rest of the magical girls believing in her worth as a person, only for Homura herself to go, "NOPE. I STILL SUCK AND THIS IS PROOF" and becoming the devil. Ugh. It rubbed me the wrong way in Rebellion, and it rubs me the wrong way here.

This is where I feel Toby's message fell flat. The game chastisizes you for trudging all this way through difficult enemies to "kill" Dr. Andonuts because it was a "choice" that you made. Except this is the only path the game offers that doesn't involve turning it off. It feels less like you're a monster who should be responsible for your own choices (or lack thereof), and more like "Oh you followed down this path because we didn't provide you anything else. You idiot, it's your own fault for listening to the narrative!" I don't feel guilty; I'm just irritated and regard the game as being condescending. Toby did similar themes so much better with Undertale it isn't funny. In Undertale, it's clear that the genocide route only happens because the player wanted to take it. It never tells you, "Hey Frisk/Chara, go do that thing" then criticizes you when you do. You're given chance after chance after chance to stop killing monsters and get off the run, so it really is a conscious decision on your part to do the most immoral path in the game possible.

"Oh noes, how could you, murdering a poor innocent old man after you journeyed through the deepest reaches of his mind to understand him!" Except Dr. Andonuts isn't innocent. If Varik hadn't been sent to go after him, he'd just keep sending monsters and terrorizing everyone until the world becomes a hellpit similar to Winters. Rather than leaving Dr. Andonuts to stew in his self-hatred and trying to drag down all existence with him, mercy-killing him is the only way to save him and free him from his insanity. Whereas in Undertale? There's no reason to kill these monsters. The regular encounters only act to save themselves out of self-defense because humans hurt them before. None of the Boss Monsters mean any harm and even try to befriend you. In Papyrus' case, he was willing to forgive you for your previous murders because he believed there's still good in you and there's potential in you to change and become a good person. By the time Undyne and Sans fight you (with Mettaton, it's more like he's trying to block the way and testing your resolve) they're doing it because they're trying to save the world.

It felt more implied that Dr. Andonuts is gay rather than he IS gay. I get that Toby didn't want to beat us over the head with it, but still. I was much more focused on the guilt that Dr. Andonuts had over building the robots and sending the Chosen Four back in time to die, and his sexuality (and his guilt thereof) didn't register as important to me. I just figured he had communication issues and trouble relating to people and that was why his wife broke up with him. *shrug*

Did anyone else feel like the boss fight against "NO!" felt more like a rape scene? It's not intentional and I'm glad it isn't, it just gave me food for thought. It's honestly one of the more suffocating boss fights for me, and the one where I kept getting slaughtered. I felt like what I was facing was unavoidable no matter what I tried (the "lack of choice" theme of the game really shined here), there was the leering grins from one of the bosses, the slaps, the "NO! tore into you!" message (it says that for other enemies, but still) and the constant lethal blows. If any of them landed a critical hit on you (via tearing your eyes out), you're screwed, because another critical hit immediately follows after that, contributing to the helplessness I felt from those bosses. Funny enough, you can avoid this fight by running away, but when I tried it, it didn't work. I just went after the groin and when I defeated it, the other parts died too.

Even back when I first played it, Dr. Andonuts' profanity-laden speech during the boss fight was narmtastically lulzy. "I'll shove your asses so far down your throats that when you crap you'll sing fucking Beethoven" is in my insult lexicon. PSI Bitchkill lol

While Halloween Hack is showing its age and flaws (Toby is embarrassed about the game and says so on his twitter, thinking he tried too hard to be Darker and Edgier), it still has a lot of things that I'm glad I experienced again. The atmosphere is fantastic and a lot of the sprites that weren't intentionally lazy (though Editted!Uboa is meh and Varik's hair still bugs me) are extremely well done. A lot of the horror is still legitimately scary, and the build-up and atmosphere played a tremendous part in that. Of course the music is badass, and I give a lot of kudos to Teenage!Toby for putting so much work and effort with the materials he had; a hacking program that had yet to be refined around the time he made this. I believe it's still worth playing for those aspects, and hey, I started a new game because I wanted to see how much Toby improved. After all, it's the hard work he put into this hack that made me excited to play Undertale in the first place. :)

Anyway, what I did with this guy was incredibly fanfictastic and I really really doubt that in reality (in Itoi's mind) that he is like this AT ALL. But he's just one of those characters that's boring and not explained at all, so I fleshed him out a whole lot and here we go he's cool now.

HOLY SHIT THOSE ARE EXACTLY THE SAME THOUGHTS I HAD WHEN I TRIED TO DEVELOP TONIO IN MY ABORTED RISE OF DARKRAI SEQUEL

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