Part 4 of our multi-part review of Edmund McMillen’s Basement Collection.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Originally released in 2008, Meat Boy is a platformer created by Edmund McMillen and Jonathan McEntee featuring music by Danny Baranowsky. For its release in The Basement Collection Meat Boy’s controls have been updated.
For many people Meat Boy is the game that started it all. It’s the one the introduced most to Edmund’s work, it’s the one that made his name known among the gaming community, and it’s the one that would become the launching pad for his indie game career.
However, it’s not the reason for The Basement Collection itself. In an interesting move, Edmund has given Meat Boy, one of his most known flash games, the least emphasis of any title in the collection. It seems that Edmund doesn’t want to be known as “the Meat Boy guy” and it’s clear to see that he’s doing everything he can to lose that stigma.
And, when it comes to Meat Boy itself, that’s definitely not a bad thing.
In Meat Boy the player controls a small, skinless boy with a knack for advanced acrobatics and incredible jumps. When disaster strikes in the form of the evil Dr. Fetus stealing away Meat Boy’s girlfriend, it’s up to the player to lead the hero through a number of stages filled with enough saws, salt, and missiles to really test your reflexes and patience.
When Meat Boy was first released I, along with many others, loved it. It was a new, unique challenge that had a lot of charm. However, in the face of the more recent Super Meat Boy, the original feels like a huge waste of time for a number of reasons.
To start the controls are much, much sloppier. Though you eventually get used to using them they never feel as sharp, precise, or intuitive as the controls of Super Meat Boy, especially when it comes to performing wall leaps and precise lands. While this might be forgivable in titles with easier platforming, Meat Boy demands precision but can’t provide proper tools to accomplish it. It’s like trying to fix a house with a broken hammer. Sure you can get the job done, but it should not be as frustrating and complicated as it is.
The jarringly improper controls really take the player out of the experience and will make you want to simply stop playing, especially if you’ve already experienced the improved controls in Super Meat Boy.
The presentation, oddly, is also lacking. Though the charm that’s present in Super Meat Boy is certainly visible here it feels diluted by graphics that aren’t up to par. Everything feels soft and dull which is very weird for a game created by as magnificent an artist as Edmund.
To be fair to the presentation, however, the game does make great use of its extremely narrow window size. The levels are all tight with no “white space,” pointless scenery, or vacuums cluttering up the screen, drawing the focus strictly to the gameplay itself.
The level design, too, is top notch. Each stage feels focused and, though not perfect, comprise the best balanced levels featured in The Basement Collection. Sadly they are not able to shine due to the lackluster presentation and poor controls.
Ever since the release of its successor the original Meat Boy has become, quite simply, the “prototype.” It’s the horse-and-buggy to Super Meat Boy’s automobile, so the speak. It’s a piece of history and deserves to be in The Basement Collection, but don’t buy the collection solely for this game. It’s a great addition, it just doesn’t hold up well enough to be a main attraction.
Meat Boy, due to its flaws, will always be the build-up to Super Meat Boy’s punch. But that’s okay.
A game with good levels but bad controls and presentation. It makes a great side-attraction but a bad main-event.
Images Used under Fair Use for the Purpose of Commentary