Over the years, I’ve answered open questions on the blogs of others, and they’ve led to many interesting discussions. As I’ve tried out several new kinds of posts in 2018, I thought I might give this a spin myself. I will propose a question, and you can either answer it in the comments section or write your own post on the subject – it’s all up to you. Naturally, I’ll participate too by providing my own answer.
Whether a work receives universal retroactive praise or manages to achieve perfect scores across the board upon release, hype is something we’ve all had to deal with at one point or another when consuming media. More often than not, it also tends to factor into our feelings walking away from a work shortly after having experienced it. For the very first question here on Extra Life, we will be focusing on the times in which the hype was only barely an exaggeration.
One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had with a video game and the hype surrounding it was provided by the famous 2015 indie game Undertale. However, I have to admit I was going into it with something of a sense of dread. Sometime after I heard of it, but before I actually played it myself, it made waves on GameFAQs when its fanbase proceeded to ensure that it would win a tournament to determine the greatest game ever made. On a site like GameFAQs, having such a recently made game win the distinction was unheard of, and many people who frequented the forums were outraged that such a thing could happen.
Moreover, I was slightly concerned when I learned that Earthbound and Mother 3 served as inspirations for the game. Though the former is a classic, the circumstances surrounding the latter’s nonappearance in the West made it less susceptible to critical scrutiny. Therefore, I went into it thinking that some of the more problematic aspects of Mother 3 would very much be present in Undertale as well. Fortunately, that never happened, as Toby Fox seemed to draw more inspiration from Earthbound while using the deconstructive aspects of Mother 3 to a far more effective degree than Shigesato Itoi did his own work. After some time passed upon completing it, I found myself agreeing with the people who voted it the greatest game ever made back in 2015 – as of this writing, it has a secure spot in my personal top ten.
With music being such a subjective medium, critics almost have to wait a decade or two to determine what’s good and what’s not. They didn’t think much of the Velvet Underground’s debut album until a decade later when all of the bands they did like cited them as an inspiration, for example. As such, I find what they’ve had to say about classic artists such as the Beatles and Black Sabbath is generally reputable to the extent that almost every time I discovered an older album, I found it lived up to the hype. Even the few times they didn’t, I still ended up enjoying them.
Film critics have on occasion promoted thoroughly mediocre works, but for the most part they’ve had a better batting average than their video game counterparts. What helps is that the current generation of critics doesn’t have nostalgia factoring into their judgement. If they insist a film made before they were born is still worth watching, you know that they’re not hyping it up because they were there when it was released. As a result, I usually find myself agreeing with their assessments. After mentioning it a few times throughout my reviews, I took it upon myself to finally watch Citizen Kane. Though I wouldn’t say is my absolute favorite, I enjoyed getting to experience it firsthand; it’s shot beautifully, has a great story, and features a very interesting framing device few others have attempted to create. Another one I can think of off the top of my head was Apocalypse Now, which has a powerful anti-war message, yet remembers to have an actual story with real characters – an art I feel a majority of modern satirists have lost.
Now it’s your turn.
Which works do you feel absolutely lived up to the hype surrounding it?