Super Meat Boy (Switch) Review: Immaculate Death

Super Meat Boy (Switch) Review: Immaculate Death

Super Meat Boy—even eight years later—is still capable of getting players to hurl a controller in frustration at its carefully designed platforming deathtraps. Except the controller is now an entire console. So, not only is Super Meat Boy an excellent platformer, it also teaches the player an important lesson about restraint.

Not much has changed from the already excellent platformer. Super Meat Boy’s stages are all still carefully designed offering a slowly increasing difficulty. They won’t feel like they’re slowly getting harder as you play them, though. After a few stages, it feels like each new area is a brick wall of challenge.

Super Meat Boy (Switch) Review: Immaculate Death
Super Meat Boy (Switch) – images provided for this review by Team Meat and BlitWorks.

Super Meat Boy’s difficulty increase IS gradual, though. It just feels newly punishing to learn the way to navigate each area. All the levels feel wildly different and creative with a trap and stage layout, though, feeling freshly frustrating. They all still teach the player about their capabilities and movement. With every challenge surmounted, players learn a bit more about how to feel their way through a jump or slip between traps.

So, when players return to old stages, they almost seem trivial. They’re no less challenging, but the gradual increase in challenge teaches the player so much about the game and their capabilities that they hardly notice how good they’re getting. It’s a rewarding experience, even if it is extremely hard at that moment. Respawning instantly after death does take some of that pressure off, though.

Super Meat Boy (Switch) Review: Immaculate Death 7
Super Meat Boy (Switch) – images provided for this review by Team Meat and BlitWorks.

This experience is just as rewarding on the Switch. The Joy-Con controllers are a comfortable means to control poor Meat Boy, and being able to take Super Meat Boy on the road is a very welcome thing—as long as you’ve got that self-control down and aren’t screaming on the bus. The game’s visuals are still bright and clear on the smaller screen, so every fault still feels like your own. Some projectiles can get a little difficult to see in places, but many of those were just as hard to see on the big screen, honestly.

The two-player race mode is a delightful addition to the game as well. Being able to race through any of the game’s worlds with a friend in split-screen is a great time and often turns those frustrating deaths into cause for laughter. The only drag is the Joy-Con is really small in adult hands, which can cramp up your fingers after an extended period of time.

Super Meat Boy is just as good as it was when it first came out, offering a perfect difficulty curve for those who like to be brutalized by their platformers. Taking that experience wherever you want only makes it better—so long as they handle howling rage well where you’re going.

Super Meat Boy (Switch) Review: Immaculate Death 3
Super Meat Boy (Switch) – images provided for this review by Team Meat and BlitWorks.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Joel Couture’s reviews such as Fight’N Rage, The Evil Within 2, and Outlast 2!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT,  Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

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The End is Nigh (Switch) Review: Lovely Punishing Platforming

The End is Nigh (Switch) Review: Lovely Punishing Platforming

Edmund McMillen was really onto something big when he created the first Meat Boy flash game nearly a decade ago. Although he had created 38 games before it, that particular game was really the start of his mainstream career, leading into Super Meat Boy. The rest was history, as nearly everyone in the industry knew his name as he immediately moved on to Binding of Isaac, another incredibly impactful release that led to countless updates and several expansions. The End is Nigh is not something that’s going to be constantly revisited like the aforementioned two, but that’s perfectly okay.

The End is Nigh (Switch) Review: Lovely Punishing Platforming 5
The End is Nigh (Switch) – gameplay image via Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel

Although it has signs of Meat Boy, The End is Nigh is its own distinct thing. This time you’re in control of Ash, a retro enthusiast that just so happens to be living in a post-apocalyptic world where nearly everyone is dead and the landscapes are hellishly desolate. Yep, it’s a McMillen game all right. In a refreshingly mute narrative, Ash is trying to fix his game cartridge—his only solace in life—and decides to venture out of his comfort zone into the unknown.

What follows is a series of stages not unlike Meat Boy, but interlocked in one giant world with portals. It’s linear in a sense, but you also have plenty of opportunities to find secret paths and zones, as well as unlock optional retro games via cartridge collectibles (or Tumors, items that add to your completion rating). All of the game’s rules of its universe kind of flow into each other, which helps facilitate exploration and nudges you along in your quest to finish the game. The haunting retro soundtrack and acute visual style complement each other nicely, as nothing gets in the way at any point or feels too busy.

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The End is Nigh (Switch) – gameplay image via Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel

Locomotion isn’t so freeing as some other platformers, but it works in tandem with the game’s distinct level designs. Ash can’t hop just anywhere, as he’ll need to grab on ledges and propel himself off walls to leap greater distances. A helpful “walk” function (which feels a lot like the original Prince of Persia) lets players slowly grab ledges instead of careening off of them. And that’s really it. Ash can jump at will, fling off them if he has a ledge, and slow-walk. It’s a challenge at first to get used to these rules, but by the end of the first world most people should pick it up. That’s in part because The End is Nigh uses the concept of having everything visible on one giant screen, so there’s no surprises if you carefully look it all over.

The End is Nigh (Switch) Review: Lovely Punishing Platforming
The End is Nigh (Switch) – gameplay image via Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel

What I really like about The End is Nigh is how most solutions for any given board aren’t obvious. Sometimes the solution for getting from point A to B seems unfathomable, with constantly crumbling buildings and areas that are insanely out of reach. But all you need to do is either die or leave the area and come back and you’ll be instantly presented with another shot. It’s not even so much trial and error, but the ability to identify the game’s rules and surgically conquer them that makes The End is Nigh so rewarding.

That level of difficulty is balanced by a lack of urgency. There’s no high score or time attack limitations, just vague collectibles to find if you even want to partake in that side quest. Instead of being tasked with constant tight goals or being pestered by tutorials or items, it’s just you and the open world, an almost zen-like experience if it weren’t for the constant deaths and tricky environments. After you’re all done you’ll get a less forgiving New Game+ for your troubles that remixes the game

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The End is Nigh (Switch) – gameplay image via Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel

If you’re looking for more of a challenge on the Switch, The End is Nigh will deliver. I don’t think it’s going to have a cult following or any prescience outside of maybe an Ash plushy in a storefront, but that’s perfectly fine.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Chris Carter’s  reviews, such as Tokyo 42 and Preacher Season 2!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Freedom Humble Bundle Offers Over 40 Games

Freedom Humble Bundle Offers Over 40 Games

The latest announcement from Humble Bundle is making an impact with its Freedom Bundle, an offering that gives those who donate over 40 different games and 6 digital books.

As it goes with every Humble Bundle, those who want to snag all of the games in this bundle have to pay a set price. While you still get to pay what you want, the minimum this time around is $30 USD, and there aren’t any payment tiers. Grouped together the games come to a value of over $600.

All the proceeds go to charity, and Humble Bundle specifically selected three different organizations that they say were “chosen for the work they do in defense of justice, human rights, and civil rights.” These charities include the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Rescue Committee, and Doctors Without Borders. Those who pay for the bundle will be able to split the donations to each organization as they see fit. Humble Bundle also promises to match customer contributions up to $300,000.

This comes in light of recent U.S. immigration policy that has even affected the video game industry.

So, what games are included in this bundle? All are listed below, but keep in mind that Humble Bundle may add additional content throughout the week!

  • The Witness
  • Stardew Valley
  • Subnautica (Early Access)
  • Day of the Tentacle Remastered
  • Overgrowth (Early Access)
  • Nuclear Throne
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch
  • World of Goo
  • Mushroom 11
  • No Time to Explain
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  • Super Hexagon
  • VVVVVV
  • Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition
  • The Stanley Parable
  • The Swapper
  • Thirty Flights of Loving
  • Spirits
  • Human Resource Machine
  • ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS
  • 2064: Read Only Memories
  • A Virus Named TOM
  • 7 Grand Steps
  • Mini Metro
  • Retro Game Crunch
  • Tower of Guns
  • Waking Mars
  • Song of the Deep
  • Monster Loves You
  • AI War: Fleet Command
  • Sproggiwood
  • Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora Deluxe
  • Ninja Pizza Girl
  • Secrets of
  • Raetikon
  • Girls Like Robots
  • Ellipsis
  • Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball
  • Streamline (Early Access)
  • Invisible, Inc.

The list of books include:

  • The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy: Practical Tips for Staying Safe Online by Violet Blue
  • R in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition; The Boys, Vol. 1 by Garth Ennis
  • Any Empire by Nate Powell; A Little Gold Book of Ghastly Stuff by Neil Gaiman
  • Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free by Cory Doctorow
  • Chapter One from Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

The Freedom Bundle will run just one week, ending on Feb. 20, 2017. If you have any interest in this awesome selection of games or in donating, jump on the opportunity now!

Super Meat Boy Coming to PS4 & Vita

Super Meat Boy Coming to PS4 & Vita

It has been a long time coming, but it seems Team Meat have finally done the unthinkable, they will be releasing Super Meat Boy onto the Sony line of consoles. Word came from the PlayStation Blog that Team Meat will be pushing the beloved title over to the Sony Platforms. It did not end there, it seems if you have PlayStation Plus, you will be getting the game for free. I know it sounds crazy, but it will be a nice treat to anyone on the Plus program. 

Read moreSuper Meat Boy Coming to PS4 & Vita

Independent Developers and the Rebirth of Tough Games

Independent Developers and the Rebirth of Tough Games

You’re screaming out curses, you’re ready to throw your controller at the screen, your blood pressure has spiked to dangerous levels — and you’re having a fantastic time. There’s little else in life other than a well-crafted, incredibly difficult videogame that can be so thoroughly aggravating while simultaneously entertaining.

The only problem is — they’ve mostly ceased to exist.

Except for a few notable hold-outs (like, say, modern iterations of the Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi series) the days of the hard-as-nails game seems to have passed from mainstream publishing. Luckily, where there is a void in art, indie creators are almost surely working on filling it. Enter the recent resurgence of tough games from  small developers and the rabid fan followings that have accompanied the release of titles like Super Meat Boy, Demon’s Souls and VVVVVV.

Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy

Something Easy This Way Comes

The renewed creation of extremely difficult games is, in many ways, a product of the time. As mentioned before, where something is lacking in an artistic landscape, someone will almost always notice and work on compensating for it.

But why is the videogame industry, once so full of sweaty-palmed platformers and punishing RPGs, now dominated by titles that can be beaten while requiring little more than a set of opposable thumbs and sufficient spare time (with the Wii, Kinect and Move you could even strike off the latter point)?

The answer lies in a simpler time: the era of the arcade.

Arcades, like any other commercial enterprise, are designed to make money. Every cabinet, from the lone, drink-ringed tabletop shmup in a ‘90s bar to any of the sophisticated, sit-in racers of a multi-level arcade serve one purpose: to wring as many coins out of customers as possible — and promptly deposit them into the hands of the establishment’s owner.

In order to properly accommodate this, arcade games in the 1980s and through to the few surviving units still installed today have been developed in order to create a carrot-and-stick level of risk and reward for players. While the games themselves had to be fun, the bottom line of this approach centres on how best to make a given title hard to advance in, ultimately something that works to increase profits. Because the “arcade experience” was the contemporary watermark of technology, early consoles sought to emulate it and, accordingly, the first Nintendo, Sega and Atari home entertainment systems were inundated with incredibly tough games. Over time, as technology continued to evolve and the game industry became more enticing for a larger segment of the population, most mainstream games began to lose their punishing edge.

Our current, massively growing videogame industry is, not unlike arcades, designed to make as much money as possible. And just as the arcades were able to find the right recipe for success by installing scores of quarter-consuming cabinets, the contemporary game industry has sought to maximize profits by appealing to the widest possible audience.

Easier games are more appealing to more potential players because, simply enough, anyone can find enjoyment in them. Some of us may cherish the memory of finally seeing the credits after beating the last boss of a gruelling Mega Man or Castlevania title because there was a level of devotion that was required to reach it. But that same type of satisfaction — the kind that results from overcoming difficult odds — is exactly the sort that bars the “casual” or novice gamer from entry. Thus, game developers and publishers began to move away from the kind of titles that required intense concentration and refined skills. They instead focused on making it simpler to reach the game’s end (and provide closure on an interactive experience) in order to get as many people on board as possible.

Whereas difficult arcade games were designed to keep players pumping quarter after quarter into them to yield profits, it now makes better financial sense to have players pumping money into more and more individual games that reach their conclusions more quickly.

The Indies Respond

This recent rebirth of truly challenging games can then be seen as a natural response to the trends of the majority. Because current multi-million dollar, focus-tested videogames can be breezed through by nearly anyone, the smaller, less financially risky passion projects of small teams have sought to fill the hard-game vacuum left behind.

In recent years indie developers have tapped into the masochistic urges of many gamers by providing them with titles like Terry Cavanagh’s Flash-based VVVVVV, PC and XBLA megahit Super Meat Boy or Playstation 3 exclusive Demon’s Souls. Each of these games was created by small teams: Demon’s Souls was developed by Japan’s fairly obscure From Software and imported to the West by Atlus, a company known for publishing niche RPGs and strategy games, Super Meat Boy is the result of the two-man Team Meat studio (consisting of Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes) and VVVVVV was crafted entirely by Cavanagh.

When looking at sales charts and Metacritic score aggregates it’s easy to see that this hasn’t been a wasted effort. The three titles listed above, as prime examples of critical and commercial successes developed by small studios, demonstrate that there still exists an audience of gamers, hungry for a more challenging experience.

Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV both came out of the gate strong with their launches, VVVVVV garnering praise for its inventive mechanics, stunning chiptune soundtrack and tight design ethos and Meat Boy sweeping the XBLA charts (before making a much-anticipated arrival on PC) on the strength of its quirky characters, offbeat sense of humour and retro-inspired platforming. Demon’s Souls demonstrates the kind of success that an indie word of mouth sensation can enjoy. Although its 2009 release (2010 for those always-neglected European gamers) was quiet enough, the following years since launch have seen it gaining in sales until, now, it sits just a few purchases away from reaching the milestone of one million units sold.

Demon's Souls
Demon’s Souls


And the development of these kind of experiences show no sign of stopping.

From Software is already hard at work on Demon’s Souls’ spiritual successor, Dark Souls and, understanding the reason why so many players raved about their previous title, the director of both games, Hidetaka Miyazaki, has promised an even more punishing experience with its “sequel.” Super Meat Boy has continuously grown in popularity from its browser-based beginnings (as Meat Boy on Newsground) to an XBLA sleeper hit and successful multiplatform present. VVVVVV holds a devout cult following of players and has provided its creator, Terry Cavanagh, with the kind of success and name-recognition necessary for working on further indie titles (like the recently released American Dream).

And now that the indies have shown the way, as always, the mainstream can start to absorb their lessons and incorporate them into business as usual. We can now expect to see a better balance of hard and easy games emerging in the future as the indie studios’ financial evidence (the arbiter of all industry trends) points to the fact that these two styles of play can coexist.

There’s enough room in the videogame marketplace for there to be games of all kinds. Easy, “casual” games like Kirby’s Epic Yarn can still sit on the shelves (and gain as much critical praise) as difficult, “hardcore” games like Demon’s Souls.

This is a good thing.

As the videogame industry continues to expand and advance itself as a viable entertainment (and artistic) medium, it needs all the expressional tools it can lay its hands on. Knowing that money can still be made, whether a title is excruciatingly tough or welcomingly easy, is important for ensuring that we all get the best possible product in the end.

 

This is originally appeared in the 2011 March issue of CGM.

Videogame Designers Creating Cards for Magic the Gathering Expansion

Become Hunted in Magic the Gathering 2015 Duels of the Planeswalkers

During their PAX East panel last weekend, Wizards of the Coast, creators of the deck building card game Magic the Gathering, announced that they will be having videogame designers and creators designing cards for the upcoming Magic 2015 Core Set expansion.

The first card revealed was Genesis Hydra by Plants vs Zombies designer George Fan.

The full list of game designers who are creating cards for the 2015 Core Set are as follows:

  • Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins: Gabe & Tycho, creators of Penny Arcade
  • Markus “Notch” Persson: Creator of Minecraft and founder of Mojang
  • Richard Garriot: Creator of the Ultima series
  • David Sirlin: Designer on Super Street Figher II Turbo HD Remix
  • Rob Pardo: Chief creative officer at Blizzard, lead designer of World of Warcraft
  • Isaiah Cartwright: Lead game designer for Guild Wars 2
  • Justin Gary: Designer of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and Solforge
  • Stone Librande: Lead designer of Diablo 3, creative director of SimCity
  • Brian Fargo: Founder of Interplay Entertainment and inXile Entertainment
  • Mike Neumann: Gearbox Software, creative director on Borderlands
  • James Ernest: Owner and lead designer for Cheapass Games
  • Edmund McMillen: Indie designer of Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac
  • Brad Muir: Game designer at Double Fine Productions, project lead on Iron Brigade

In addition, there will be cards in the set that members of the Magic community have submitted, reviewed, and voted on in the past.

The Magic 2015 Core Set will release on July 15th 2014.

The newest videogame  iteration of Magic the Gathering, Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers will release later this year on Xbox One, Xbox 360, iPad, Steam, Android, and Google Play.

Electronic Super Joy (PC) Review

Electronic Super Joy (PC) Review

Super-hard platformers are a weird brand of nostalgia-laced games. These are some of the hardest games to review; they’re deliberately designed to infuriate players. Talking about technical merits and challenge is somewhat difficult when the game is made to mock and infuriate the player, even outright lying to you at times (if I wanted a game to lie to me, I’d play Heavy Rain). Michael Todd’s indie platformer, Electronic Super Joy, while frustratingly hard at times, was still interesting to play, if only because its changing structure and over-the-top visuals were engaging.

The plot of the game is largely immaterial and receives virtually no attention – something about finding someone who stole your butt, or something. It’s an excuse to travel between three worlds of increasingly hard, psychedelic levels, leaping platforms and bizarre enemies, all bent on killing you in tricky and devious combinations.

Electronicsuperjoyinsert1

The graphics are monochrome pixel-art, with every character and solid platform a black silhouette. The backgrounds are a bright, active display of shapes and colours, which contrast the objects you interact with. Some laser beams and explosions are stark white, indicating danger or special objects (portals, collectable stars). It’s actually rather pretty, and there’s never a case where it’s unclear where you can land, especially with how busy the screen could get in later levels.

The music is a mix of dubstep and electronic music composed by Envy, which is sometimes synchronized with the level’s movement or actions. This kind of music is known for being repetitive and tedious, but I found most of it to be good and well suited to its levels. They’re lively tunes, reflecting the somewhat surreal pacing and layout you’re faced with. Considering you’ll be spending a lot of time repeating several actions in the game, it might as well look and sound good. The sound effects are decent, too, and blend well with the sound effects.

 Electronic-Super-Joy-insert2

Make no mistake; this is the kind of game where you WILL die, and you will have to respawn. Besides the arrow keys, there are two main buttons you use, one to jump, and one to perform an offensive ‘smash’ in midair that crushes anything beneath you and immediately drops you down onto the surface below you. The latter’s functionality has multiple uses, allowing you to drop through dangerous lasers unharmed, destroy missiles and enemies, and immediately stop forward momentum and land (or, if you’re over a pit, instantly die). There are a few other actions you can make in specific levels, but they come and go – taken away at seemingly whimsical points in a World, but always with sufficient warning. Boss battles are often multi-stage affairs and require you to collect objects, or chase/be chased through levels while the boss fires at you.

Unlike Super Meat Boy, this game doesn’t let you skip levels if one stumps you; you have to play every level to progress, in order. This can get frustrating, especially with the game’s rather cavalier attitude; rules will sometimes change between levels, and sometimes even within a level. Difficulty can therefore be somewhat unpredictable, with certain levels markedly more difficult than others. The dancing NPCs that inform you of changes to your powers can even mislead you, trapping you or causing you to miss collectables. The game requires thought to progress, and strategies are needed – I found Meat Boy levels had multiple solutions, while Electronic Super Joy usually does not.

eletronicsuperjoyinsert3

In addition, there’s fewer extras in ESJ, with only four extra levels in World Four (unlocked only by collecting all the stars, which requires completing the level before they register for you). Aside from the stars, that’s it. The levels are of decent length, even without respawns, and often require some thought as well as trial and error to traverse.

All this said, the difficulty is manageable. I committed a cardinal sin of platformers, and used my keyboard, and found the controls were precise enough to manage everything. Your avatar can execute precise changes in direction quickly enough that nothing is insurmountable, you can reliably predict where you’ll land in most cases, and enemy hit-boxes are consistent.

electronic-super-joy_4

It ran rather smoothly for me, overall, but there was one level where the checkpoints would slow the entire game to the point where things would stop; jumping or moving while this was happening would cause you to run into obstacles or pits without warning. Waiting it out works, and if you stand still it will eventually return to normal without a loss of time, but it takes a while to right itself and doesn’t always get easier when you reload. Aside from that one point—and a laser that flashed by so quickly it was hard to gauge where to stand to avoid it—no problems on that account.

The game is only $7.99; at that price, it’s a solid game. It took me about ten hours to beat, and there’s quite a few achievements left (not dying in levels, specific challenges in certain stages, collecting stars for the final four levels). It’s got more depth than some of the free browser super-hard platformers out there and is considerably more fun. Give it a shot.

All Hail the Super Meat Boy

All Hail the Super Meat Boy

Inspired by classic platformers, particularly the Super Mario Bros. series, Team Meat’s Super Meat Boy offers a retro visual aesthetic and simple, classic mechanics.  The game sees players taking on the role of a small, animated chunk of meat named Meat Boy who must save his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr. Fetus.  Super Meat Boy seems easy enough, complete a series of brief platforming challenges, but the game’s high difficulty quickly begins to sink in with its timed wall jumps, wall slides and enough buzz saws and lava pits to garner it a truly hardcore, and addicting, platformer.   The developers, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, teach gamers that you should never forfeit difficulty for fun – a common occurrence in mainstream video games today, as companies attempt to stray further and further away from retro game appeal for sheer accessibility.

Thankfully, Super Meat Boy has been receiving a lot of attention, being featured in indie game showcases including the Penny Arcade Expo’s PAX 10 and was nominated for several awards in the 2010 Independent Games Festival.  In addition, the game – already available on XBLA and soon to be released on Windows, Mac and WiiWare – has been getting some great reception, and rightfully so.

I had a chance to speak to Edmund and Tommy about Super Meat Boy‘s humorous take on the platforming genre, and the benefits and challenges of independent development.

C & G Monthly: So first off, why did you guys decide to do a launch sale for Super Meat Boy?

Edmund McMillen: We were foolish idiots.

Tommy Refenes: We’re dumbasses.

CGM: No seriously. Why?teammeatsmall

Edmund: Well, I guess it was more about us giving back to our fans.  A lot of times you see games being released and a month later they go on sale.  We don’t think this is fair to fans of Super Meat Boy and our original game, Meat Boy , so we wanted to kick things off with a launch sale.  That’s our thank you to them for providing us with their awesome emails and all the fan art on our blog.

CGM: What were your biggest difficulties when making Super Meat Boy?

Edmund: We didn’t have too many big issues, but we did have some I’m sure Tommy is willing to tell you about…

Tommy: The biggest problem we had when making Super Meat Boy was also the stupidest.  The game has a few bugs, but there’s one where you had to pull the memory card out of the Xbox360 just as you were saving.  And literally, you had to do it exactly as you pull the card out.  I had to make it say “DON’T DO THAT IT WON’T SAVE!” just so it wouldn’t happen to people.  Why the fuck would you be stupid enough to do something like that to your Xbox?  Who in their right mind would actually do something like that and not expect bugs?  I had to fix around 100+ of those bugs for each time it was saving.

Edmund: Microsoft has these lists of dumb shit that they have us do for no reason.

Tommy: Like one where we had to localize for China even though it’s not legal to own a video game console there.  No one does.  But we still had to localize for it and pay for it. Lots of illogical shit.

CGM: Wow, yeah that sounds pretty trivial.

Tommy: I know. It’s as though they’re just searching for bugs any way they can.  It’s extremely annoying.

CGM: Will you be making more cool promotional material (like comics, shirts etc.) in the future?

Edmund: Yeah, my wife Danielle does all of those herself and sells them on the Etsy Shop. She got about 50 orders the first day the game was released and had to shut down the shop, but she’s almost caught up now.  She’s been working on special edition brownies and Bandage Girl’s as well.  And then we also still sell comics, shirts and stickers off there as well.

CGM: I hear you’ll be adding new levels to Super Meat Boy soon.  Mind telling me more?

Edmund: So yeah, we’re basically able to update the game with new level content whenever we want, without making users pay anything.  It’s a specific thing we can do that Tommy was able to add.  It has to do with the fact that our levels are all text based. But yeah, we will be updating the game for as long as people play it.  We plan on releasing totally new levels and even chapters based around unlockable characters in the game and those chapters are each made to use that character’s specific ability.

CGM: Yeah, like Braid’s Tim, Alien Hominid’s Alien and Bit.Trip’s Commander Video. How did these inclusions come about?

Edmund: Basically it was a way for us to point the finger back at smaller indie games we loved and also help us with using indie games that were bigger.  It was a fun way to group us together and make a game for the indie community.

CGM: Of course! Speaking of characters, what about Mr. Minecraft?  Will be available on everything or only on the computer?

Edmund: Yeah, he’ll only be on PC and Mac.  We’ll have him for sure.

CGM: Let’s talk about indie games.  Left and right we’re seeing indie games being released for download on all the latest consoles.  Not only that, but many of them have been getting some great reception. What role do you think indie games serve in the industry right now?  Is it to take the risks that mainstream developers won’t take?

Edmund: I think that you’re exactly right, indies have the ability to take risks.  Huge companies can’t do this because they run the risk of failing and going under because of their budgets, but games like ours have no budgets.  Our cost is the time we spend; we had no investment, money wise.  Because of this we don’t run the risk of losing much so we can take those bigger risks.

CGM: Edmund, your past games have really cool and unique visual styles and innovative gameplay mechanics.  I was wondering what comes first: gameplay or art?

Edmund: For Super Meat Boy I came up with the basic idea for what I wanted to do art-wise first.  All tile sets were done before I tested mechanics.  So I did visuals first, for sure.  They were quick and easy to test and became less of a risk.

CGM: And that differs with your other games?

Edmund: Yeah, it really depends on how much of a clear picture I have in my head of what I want to do.  The Meat Boy prototype had placeholder art because I wasn’t sure how it would play out.  I wanted to first test it out.  Gish also had placeholder art first as well.  It just depends on how much I’m familiar with what I’m designing.

CGM: Super Meat Boy has been getting some great reception.  How does that make you feel?

Edmund: We’re extremely thankful for all of our loyal fans and we just want to give them our thanks for sticking with us.

Tommy: Yeah, we really couldn’t have done it without them.

CGM: Super Meat Boy must be a huge inspiration for small developers worldwide.  Do you have any tips or words of advice for those people?

Edmund: If you stay honest and your love for what you’re doing is actually doing it and not in the outcome then you’ll be fine and you’ll be able to do awesome things.  Just stay true to what makes you happy and it will show in your work.  Stay honest to yourself and realize where you need to improve and why and you’ll grow fast.  It’s all about critical thinking and honesty.  Also, just pushing through and not giving up.  It took me 12 years to get where I am now.  I’ve basically made 20k a year for those 12 years.  I never quit because I loved it.

Super Meat Boy (XBOX 360) Review

Super Meat Boy (XBOX 360) Review

It is impossible to avoid swearing while playing Super Meat Boy. It doesn’t matter if you’re Ned Flanders, the game just doesn’t allow you to keep a clean mouth. The game is that maniacal sort of difficult that lets you know it’s not impossible to win, but at the same time making it unbelievably difficult to do so. If there is one thing you can call the game, it’s sadistic.

Super Meat Boy is a punishingly hard, independently developed platformer for the Xbox Live Arcade and PC. This description fits a lot of games these days; the indie scene has really adopted the genre. Make no mistake though; Super Meat Boy is the best of the breed.

Players take control of Meat Boy, a squishy protagonist who wants nothing more than to hold his beloved Bandage Girl. Unfortunately for him the evil Dr. Fetus has kidnapped her and hid her behind six worlds full of deadly traps and obstacle courses. Armed with nothing more than a springy jump and an indomitable will its Meat Boy’s job to rescue her.

Part of what makes Super Meat Boy stand out is it’s almost parody-like level of self-awareness. Team Meat, creators of the game, revel in their role as indie developers and flaunt it at every turn. All of the cutscenes are done in the traditional Newgrounds/Adobe Flash style and soundtrack features more than a handful of low-budget chiptunes songs. None of this should be surprising though, considering its origins as a free flash game.

What takes this independent motif over the top is the inclusion of over a dozen unlockable characters from other punishingly hard indie platformers. As players progress they’ll unlock the likes of Tim from Jonothan Blow’s Braid, Commander Video from Gaijin Games’ Bit.Trip series, and Alien Hominid from the Newgrounds classic. The game also includes more obscure characters like The Kid from Michael “Kayin” O’Reilly’s I Wanna Be The Guy and Gish from Gish.

Each of the characters brings their trademark control style to the game, refreshing each of the levels in a new way without requiring a complete redesign of the game. It’s an ingenious way to add new playstyles and encourage experimentation for speedruns while adding a lot of flavor at the same time. These unlockables will surely introduce a lot of unaware players to some rather cool indie games. It’s like a crash course in indie-scene legends, all wrapped in a single game.

Beyond the allure of cameo appearances, the game does offer a lot of value in terms of content. With each of the six worlds featuring 20 levels, plus hidden warp zones and another 20 ‘Dark World’ levels for those who master the originals there is a lot to play in this game. Throw in the fact that, like the rebellious independents they are, Team Meat has a built-in patching system that will provide new free DLC without needing Microsoft’s approval and you have a seemingly never ending supply of content.

Where Super Meat Boy shines brightest though, is that despite all its quirkiness and indie appeal it delivers a sense of satisfaction to the player. While the game may slap you around like a bitch when playing, the difficulty is only there to facilitate that great exhale when you finally succeed. Above all else, Super Meat Boy understands challenge and reward; it’s difficult in all the right ways, and unlike a lot of modern video games feels like it’s worth beating.

This may be a drawback for those who like to be coddled by their games; there is no baby-mode here. Super Meat Boy is not for the faint of heart, casual gamers need not apply. You will not be able to enjoy this one if you lack some serious skills.

Super Meat Boy is without a doubt one of the best Xbox Live Arcade games made to date. It takes the player on an emotional journey without a narrative and does so with a wink and a smile. The game is a challenge to play, but never a chore and the satisfaction it provides is unlike any other. Super Meat Boy is a gamers’ game and that’s nice to see in a world that’s getting increasingly more casual.