If you’ve ever played a Mortal Kombat game, you’ve probably heard the falsetto voice of game developer Dan Forden singing out the word “toasty!” If you cracked your opponent on the chin with a particularly brutal uppercut, a little pixelated portrait of the sound designer would cheekily pop up in the corner of the screen, sing ‘toasty!’, and disappear again. It became something of a Mortal Kombat staple, it’s been made into memes, and it even gets sampled in a Skrillex song (sorry to carve open that memory for you).
It’s no surprise, then, to see a reference to the Jurassic-era gaming meme referenced in Player First Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s take on the crossover fighting game genre, MultiVersus. Mortal Kombat developer NetherRealm publishes its games via Warner Bros, and a couple of datamines and leaks point towards Scorpion and Sub-Zero coming to the game in the future, too. The announcer even says 'TOASTY' in a booming voice when you get toasted, sometimes. The link is there – but MultiVersus’ toast is a world away from a little man shouting at you in the corner of your screen. It’s one of the nicest innovations in fighting games in a long while.
There’s something really special about ending a round of MultiVersus – after wrestling with a Shaggy that won’t stop hurling sandwiches at you, and a Taz spamming that infernal spin move – and seeing a little notification pop up in the top corner of the screen. “Womanlicker99 sent you toast!” Thank you, Womanlicker99! How pleasant of you. Thank you for toasting the way I played (get the pun?)
Toast is a currency in MultiVersus – you can give it to someone, and have it given to you, at the end of a round. It supplants that whole ‘gg’ message you might otherwise be compelled to slap in a chat box once you’ve bodied someone with Garnet or Steven Universe. Given that toast gives you some of the game’s non-premium currency and costs you to stock up on, it’s quite a nice act of kindness when someone thinks your match was toast-worthy. It shows they’re not just sending off a simple message, but spending (a very small amount) of a resource on complimenting you.
Often, in fighting game lobbies, there can be a sense of hostility; maybe the idiot on the other end of the game started teabagging you when they knocked you out in the last round. Maybe you’ll open your inbox to someone saying “go home and be a family man” after a match is over. Maybe the messages contain more intense insults, or suggestions about the promiscuity of one’s mother. If you’ve played against a Ken main on Street Fighter (or a Taz main in MultiVersus), you probably know what I’m on about.
So this toast system is a breath of fresh air. It’s a nice way of saying, wordlessly, to someone on the other side of the planet: “Hey, that was fun! Thanks for not being a total piece of s**t.” It’s as good to give toast as it is to receive it, too – something about moving your cursor over the namecard for “MrBlobby420” and hitting “Give Toast!” fills you with a little crumb of joy. Like microdosing dopamine. It’s lovely.
As VG247 comrade Connor pointed out to me, it feels like a spiritual successor to being back in the arcades, standing next to someone who really went toe-to-toe with you in that last round, and saying “gg!” But without any of the sarcasm or sass of how that reads in a text-only lobby. It provokes a sense of camaraderie, and aids in getting people to rematch and try for more rounds in the MultiVersus lobbies (given the game is only in open beta and doesn’t have all its online functions fully implemented yet, this is a Good Thing).
I also feel power in not giving toast. If you’re going to pick Taz, and spam his stupid spin move over and over and over again like some braindead automaton with a PlayStation pad in your hand, I’m not going to give you toast. No. My teammate can have some, your buddy – playing Velma, for some reason – can have some, but you cannot. No toast for you. Bad Taz. Grow up. In denying Taz his toast, I am not sending a message to the player calling him a ‘gimp’ or something toxic, I am simply withholding what is mine to give away. It combats negativity by empowering positivity, instead. It’s nothing short of genius.
I started giving out toast as a means to an end: as a way to pop that tasty 90G Toast Master achievement on the Xbox version of the game. But here I am, closing in on that number, and dead set on flinging slices of toast at anyone and everyone that plays respectfully and makes MultiVersus a fun place to be.
So join me, won’t you, in a toast to Player First Games – this is one of my favourite little features in a competitive game for quite some time.
Multiversus is free-to-play, and is in open beta now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, and PC.