By Isabella Green
Ah, Undertale. A game so terrifyingly huge with an even more colossal fan base. It’s notorious for its less-than-wholesome fandom. From poisoning artists in the most literal interpretation of ship wars I have ever seen and threatening its content creators for ‘enjoying the game the wrong way’ it’s not exactly hard to see why. But Undertale is such a masterpiece that, though overrated, makes it hard to be annoyed at this conglomerate of a community. There’s so much depth and beauty, both in the original game and in the fan works that I could not possibly cover everything in one article. And believe me, I’ve tried. I recently found myself lacking in ideas; desperately hoping for something holiday-themed to write about. That was when a certain trio of side characters popped into my head: Napstablook, Mettaton and Mad Mew Mew.
You initially meet the first member of this trio, Napstablook, in the tutorial sequence of the game. They block your path through the Ruins and unenthusiastically attempt to battle you. This ‘fight’ quickly derails as Napstablook opens up about how tired they are, about how much they’re lacking in hope and craft you a hat out of their tears while dubbing themself ‘Dapperblook’. Simply cheering for them gets them to abandon any ideas of killing you, feeling genuinely happy for the first time in weeks. They thank you before turning invisible and leaving you be. This interaction is perfectly balanced between the game’s typical humour and the weight of Napstablook’s serious mental health issues.
Before meeting them again, you have your first encounter with another character that is crucial to this article: Mad Dummy. You see, when listing the ghosts in this game, I missed one key character. Aptly nicknamed the Silent Dummy, it is revealed that the training dummy you either mercilessly struck or feebly ran away from had actually been possessed by a ghost. And whatever option you chose, it hurt them deeply. The Mad Dummy approaches you in Waterfall to get revenge for their cousin. They attack you with a much stronger resolve than Napstablook had previously. Still, they fail, and are scared away by Napstablook’s tears. Napstablook, paranoid about having ruined your fun, runs away back to their house. Here you can see demos of songs Napstablook is working on alongside laying on the floor with them.
The crowning jewel of this is the house next to Napstablook’s. It is typically locked but can be opened with a hidden key which reveals that not only was the house formerly owned by an important character named Mettaton but that it’s also filled with his diaries. And like the nosy gamer you are, you read through all of them. These books detail Mettaton’s past as a ghost, how he met the royal scientist Alyphs and made a deal with her to craft his dream body. The journals discuss the anguish of him waiting for this, his cousins who have already left to go out and fuse with their bodies, and his fears of how he could hurt his cousin by just disappearing. Eventually he can’t take it anymore and changes his name and runs away from his home. I don’t think I need to explain how clearly this rings as an allegory for transgender people. Mettaton’s impatient longing for his dream body and destructive fear of how his loved ones would respond strike a chord that made it even more beautiful when he finally comes clean and speaks to Napstablook in the True Pacifist ending. While this is far from canon representation, it certainly was wholesome and relatable for many of us.
That was all it was for a while. And then, two years later, Undertale was ported to the Switch. And with that came an additional hidden boss fight. That boss fight gave Mad Dummy a much needed character arc. Instead of vanishing from the story, they are found in an obscured corner of Sans and Papyrus’ house. Here she is, having fused into Alphys’ doll. At least partially. She’s still stuck trying to connect with her new body and believes that an emotional rush will do it. And what better rush than reliving those moments of fighting you? She challenges you to a fight, during which she mentions everything leading up to this moment: an unbearable agony from her body, her seeing the doll and realising it was exactly what she wanted to be, trying to justify her reasons for picking it as wanting to be a more accurate dummy before having the revelation that she is just a woman to the present frustration at why it’s taking so long to respond to and work with her. Her new name Mad Mew Mew is respected in all menus and the game doesn’t mock her for anything aside from her violent nature. This boss fight is beautiful writing of trans representation and gave an otherwise flat character other more depth. Her resolve at the end to be patient regardless of how painful it is is also inspirational for someone like me, a non binary person with irritatingly little power over their own body. If she just waits, she’ll get what she wants eventually. And so will you.