Tag Archives: spiders

Undertale – Spider Dance

There are certain songs and sounds that call to mind terrifying experiences.  Classic horror movie themes rely on specific melodies to conjure uncomfortable and haunting memories to the mind of the viewer.  In the case of video games, a repeated theme or visceral noise can be used to emphasize the power of a specific scene.

Very early in Undertale, the player may find a pair of spider webs surrounding a sign that reads, “Spider Bake Sale. All proceeds go to real spiders.”  The player is presented with an option to purchase a Spider Donut or a Spider Cider, payment made by leaving money stuck to one of the webs.

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As a devout arachnophobe, this little scene made my skin crawl.  I pictured the spindly legs of spiders stirring donut batter and pouring cups of cider for horrifying local bake sales. With limited funds (and a fear of eight-legged bakers), I decided not to leave any sort of monetary gains for these little monsters.  Little did I know that by supporting the efforts of the spider-kin of Undertale, I would avoid battling their leader, Muffet.

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Later in the game, as I made my way through a room filled with cobwebs, I was ensnared by the leader of the Spider Bake Sale.  For not supporting her efforts to liberate her arachnid comrades from the cold of the Ruins, Muffet lashes out at the player; attacking with unique spider-themed strikes.

The music for Muffet’s battle (appropriately called Spider Dance) calls to mind the spindly movements of a spider.  A frantic melody launches from the start of the song; calling to mind the feeling of first laying eyes on a spider that has invaded your space.  This gives way to a minimalist string sample, which simulates the actions of a spider spinning a web to capture their prey.  The whole song is intense, engaging, and appropriate for the frantic battle with Muffet.

As with so many of the themes in Undertale, composer Toby Fox uses leit motifs across tracks to emphasize a certain theme.  In the case of Spider Dance, this song shares its melody with equally haunting tracks like Ghost Fight, Pathetic House, and Dummy!  Each of these songs centers around otherworldly encounters; where the player is faced with haunting moments that could scare them into submission.

Of course, any frightening situation can be overcome with enough… DETERMINATION.

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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Game: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Released: Naughty Dog, November 1, 2011
System: Sony Playstation 3
Game started: November 4, 2011
Amount completed: Beat the single player campaign. Tried the co-op campaign, got frustrated as we died over 30 times against the first boss, gave up shortly afterwards.

Chip’s Thoughts

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my favorite movies, and in my opinion, the strongest of the trilogy. It is the perfect conclusion to Indy’s adventures. We meet his father, who serves not as a wise-cracking ethnic sidekick (read: Short Round), but as his partner in this adventure. We get a solid flashback scene which gives us a look into how Junior was raised to become Indiana Jones (and how he got that totally sweet Fedora). The film is filled with several exotic locales, well choreographed fight scenes, and a quest that has some occult and spiritual elements without going overboard. Overall, we come to better understand just who Indiana Jones is, and we love him (and Sean Connery) even more for it.

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The developers at Naughty Dog obviously adore the Indiana Jones trilogy as well. After all, they made the Uncharted series, which is the video game love letter to Indy. But as much as they (and I, to be honest) want Nathan Drake to be the new Indiana Jones, he simply falls short, particularly in Drake’s Deception.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Uncharted 3. Every part of this game is beautiful. Laura and I would lay waste to all of the enemies in an area just to have some time to move the camera around and admire every single setting in the game. Story-wise, Drake’s Deception brings the Uncharted series to its logical (and very Last Crusade-esque) conclusion. There is clever dialogue, interesting flashback and dream-like scenarios throughout the game, and plenty of great moments pulled from the best of classic action films.

UnchartedBeautiful

I love the hand-to-hand combat in this game. Every fight feels different, and thanks to a plethora of counters and props to hit your enemies with, many of them are actually different. There is plenty of globe-hopping to be found, as Drake travels around the world to… um… wait, why is he chasing after this old British lady in the first place?

It is at this point that there will be some slight spoilers to the game. If you are the sort to hate anything being revealed or ruined in the slightest, just skip to Laura’s Thoughts, enjoy her picture, and be sure to follow us on WordPress. For those of you who enjoy playing video games regardless, please read on. And now, back to our main event.

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That’s just it. It is never fully explained why Drake is so interested in chasing after Marlowe. Sure, very late in the game, after he has chased her from Britain to France to Syria to Yemen and finally to the Khali Desert, he finds out about an ancient evil that might exist and Marlowe is trying to obtain power from, but before that, he could give less of a crap about saving the world. Just as his mentor, Sully, says to Drake, it is his pride that seems to be the motivation for Nathan to even chase after Marlowe and her group of homicidal yes-men. After all, there are several moments in the story where Marlowe’s quest for power would come to a complete halt if Nathan would just let the whole thing go and move on with his life. Sure, Indiana Jones is fool-hardy and headstrong, but at least in each film, you get the idea that his focus seems to be for the greater good.

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Last year, I played Uncharted 2 with Laura, and enjoyed that game as well. Upon completing the game, I was discussing it with a friend, where I made the comment that I loved Uncharted, since it was so similar to Indiana Jones. My friend said that he didn’t get that same fuzzy feeling from Nathan Drake. Indy wanted to study things, discover the past, and most importantly, put things in museums. Nathan Drake doesn’t seem to share those feelings. It almost seems as if he does it because he is so wrapped up in being Nathan Drake that he doesn’t care if he is doing good or bad in the process.

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There is one big reveal in Uncharted 3. Drake’s actual Deception is that his ancestral relation to Sir Francis Drake is completely made up by Nathan himself. But this information is only brought up by Marlowe in passing, and the game quickly ignores this revelation and provides Nathan with a cause to fight for by putting his friend at risk. When you stop to think about this tidbit of info, all of Drake’s motivation seems to make sense. If you were an orphaned boy who wanted to be a great explorer like those in the past, so much so that you threw away your old life, wouldn’t you do anything to prove that you were the man you invented, instead of some street urchin playing pretend?

So maybe Nathan Drake is a hero in his own right. Sure, he may get too full of himself from time to time, but as the conclusion to Uncharted 3 shows, Mr. Drake will always prove to be the good guy in the end. And it is his pride that distinguishes him from Indy, and thus makes Uncharted stand out as its own series. And I am sure no one would try to overemphasize the similarities between the two trilogies… oh damn it Junior!


Laura’s Thoughts:

I love Uncharted 3. I don’t care what anyone else says about it, I love this game. I could talk you into a coma with how much I love this game. It’s true, allow me to demonstrate:

Let’s begin with the tutorial. No other game series I can think of has a cooler tutorial. In the last game, we began our adventure at the butt-end of a train that had fallen off a cliff. This time, we interrupt our heroes in the middle of an operation that is a bit far from the up and up. The introduction of new techniques look like cut scenes, but you actually control the action. Every time a scene like this comes up, it fills me with pure glee.

The chase scenes are even better. I get caught or fall of a cliff at least once, but it’s still soooooooooo much fun. They are just so thrilling and engaging.

The mechanics of this game alone are mind-blowing. It is probably the most put-together game I have ever played. And I love Naughty Dog’s ambition. They made a fully functional ocean just because they could. Not just an animation of an ocean, but a fully-functional, interactive, nausea-inducing ocean. If that is not awesome, then someone is going to have to sit me down and explain to me what awesome really is.

This game also managed to hit every terror button in my system. From my debilitating fear of the ocean, to my entirely rational fear of being eaten alive by hordes of spiders.

Artistically it is everything I could ever want in a game ever. I mean…in a game without dragons, that is. I’m probably speaking strictly from the part of my soul that loves art and film and thinks Naughty Dog is one of the greatest game studios ever. But that doesn’t make my love for it any less pure.

I have my gripes with it of course: The rushed story ending, the vague plot motivation, the unintuitive stealth mode, but I can forgive these thing because it was still extremely fun.

And I hate Elena Fisher. I really can’t put my finger on why, other than that she isn’t Chloe Frazer. Which I think is a good enough reason not to like an imaginary person.

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