Tag Archives: Edmund McMillen

Super Meat Boy (Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Linux, PS 4, PS Vita, Wii U, Android, and there’s probably some sort of conversion for the Gameboy Advance or some shit, seriously, this game is everywhere.)

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Alright, here’s what you need to know about Super Meat Boy. The Super Meat Boy is a terrific athlete, everyone loves the him. He loves Bandage Girl and they got a good thing going on. Dr. Fetus is fetus in a jar in control of a person suit and a jerk, so he…

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…beats the tar out of Bandage Girl…

…and whisks her away to the improbably large number of properties that he owns. Meat Boy gives chase, but whenever he’s about to rescue her, Dr. Fetus takes her to another location. Locations such as, the nearby woods, a salt factory, and literal hell. Meat Boy is fast and made out of meat so he can jump and run, using his parkour powers to navigate increasingly bizarre and treacherous terrain.

History

Super Meat Boy and it’s development team, Team Meat, spearheaded by Edmund McMillen have a colorful history. McMillen often drew monsters and strange things as a boy and started publishing Flash Games on sites like Newgrounds in 2001. Games such as Dead Baby Dressup, 12 Dead Baby Uses, WWF Baby Dressup, and Clubby the Seal. McMillen’s first commercial release was Gish, in which the player controls a sentient ball of tar trying to rescue his girflriend. Meat Boy was released in 2008 made in Flash and it was quite popular, netting millions of views across the sites hosting it.

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McMillen here sporting his meatiest Garb.

Microsoft and Nintendo approached him about making an expanded game for XBLA and WiiWare. McMillen formed Team Meat with Tommy Refenes to code stuff, Danny Baranowsky to do the music, and Jordan Fehr to make the various metallic and meaty noises. Development started in January of 2009 and in August of 2010 McMillen got word from Microsoft that they wanted the game released in two months for a promotion they wanted to start — even though they would fail to promote the game at pivotal moments. Which prompted McMillen and Refenes to design and code as if their game depended on it — because it did. But the game did get released on schedule to plumb and great fanfare.

Super Meat Boy was released on October 20th, 2010. It’s competition was Fallout: New Vegas (PC, XBox 360, and PS3), Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition (PC, PS3, XBox 360), and Fable III (XBox 360).

Fun Fact: PETA protested the game with the release of Super Tofu Boy. Edmund decided to include an easter egg based on this. If the player types ‘petaphyle’ at the title screen they will unlock Super Tofu Boy, a character so slow and with a jump so low it’s literally impossible for him to complete most stages.

Experiences

I’m not sure how long the leaderboards stay up or if they ever get cleared. Point being I completed a stage so fast that I held the fastest time. It’s an early stage, so it’s not like I’m  master of the game or anything, but I still felt really stoked. The leaderboards are also split between different characters so it’s possible to be the best at your favorite character if Meat Boy isn’t your bag.

Gameplay

Super Meat Boy is a platformer with the sensibilities of Hotline Miami. You’re gonna die a LOT. Pits, sawblades, other meat, cannons, salt, and syringes will all cause Meat Boy to explode in gore and death but he’ll be back in a literal second ready for more. Each world and each level slowly ramps up the difficulty and adds new gimmicks and mechanical elements until it’s a giant mass of fans, conveyor belts, salt streams, cannons, and other things that the player will come to master.

Completing the level is one thing but what’s more important is doing everything in the game — right? Super Meat Boy comes with unlockable characters, collectible bandages, warp zones to alternate stages, dark world counterparts — for those who find the regular levels too easy — , and A+ing every stage by doing it fast. The unlockable characters aren’t just skins, most of them have special and unique abilities which change the way they play, such as Commander Video’s glide or Josef’s propeller head spin. Certain characters are even more effective on certain maps so if you get stuck it might just mean changing up the character you’re playing.

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Characters are unlocked in warp zones and by collecting bandages.

The Gush

The game’s fucking hard to complete 100% and I think all the things necessary to do so actually do a better job at dissuading the player from that sort of behavior rather than encouraging it. I got to chapter four, liked the story, had a blast with the game, and played with all the characters I had unlocked but put it away for a few months when it started to get too tough for me. Now I’m back on the horse and I’m having just as much fun as I did in my first run through. The whole while I don’t feel the pressure I usually do to 100% the game because christ, that would just take too much effort.

When you do finish a level the game runs a replay with every failed attempt running at once. This is one of the most cathartic things on the entire planet. Seeing all of your failures in motion as they fall into pits, get chopped up by saws, or fall into piles of needles while the one who matters gets to the goal really made me feel like I had done good.

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It’s a Thing of Beauty

If you just couldn’t get enough then have no fear, there’s no such thing as enough. The game has a well constructed level editor and those levels can be found in the bonus world, Teh Internets. It might be possible to literally play this game forever.

The Kvetch

Oh no, ooooooh no, the Social Justice Warrior hat is going onto my head. Curse my love of hats, I can’t bring myself to be rid of a single one. Well, the SJW hat is on so I might as well talk about something that I think is ‘problematic’. The game is a send up the platformers and games of McMillen’s childhood so Bandage Girl is gonna get kidnapped — it was an inevitability in design meeting #1. That’s not so clearly the problem because there’s a game mode where you can play as Bandage Girl rescuing Meat Boy instead, so that’s cool. The problem comes in the sheer number of times Dr. Fetus beats the piss out of her. Whenever Meat Boy completes a stage he gets dragged along to the next as Dr. Fetus pummels her mercilessly and poofs them away. It’s just a framing device but maybe not every animation had to be a ‘comedic’ beating. The problem is that the beatings are all game references that seem like their meant to be played for laughs.

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Look away Meat Boy! Look away from the horrid violence against (presumable) females.

Some of the warp zone levels are just leagues more difficult than the world their in. I understand that they’re sort of bonus content but sometimes a warp zone is just too hot for me to handle. It’s a difficulty spike so large that it’s more dissuading than anything. It’s probably just because games of the past have hard-wired that bonus levels are cool fun things.

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This cool thing should not inspire dread like it does for me.

The boss fights are a little meh. It’s tricky business making a boss fight out of a platformer, especially when Meat Boy has no attack. They’re all basically all forced platforming challenges and they’re all pretty good. But they don’t scratch that boss itch like an enemy from another game might.

I’m quite the prude and this game has got a lot of toilet humor. Literally, one of the bosses is a pile of Dr. Fetus’ fecal matter that Dr. Fetus has somehow given sentience. Needless to say I’m not a big fan of it.

The Verdict

Do I gotta say it? This game is seven years old and its’ a fucking masterpiece… if you like platforming. If the allure of jumping and not getting hit by things never appealed to you then this ‘un is not gonna light that flame. But if you ever longed for the days of Bubsy, hard Mario levels, or the madness induced fury of a Ghouls and Ghosts game then this was made for you. For the slick price of $15 it’s cheap to boot, especially considering all of the content therein.

Next Week: The Witness

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Binding of Issac: Rebirth, Is It Worth it? (PS4, PSVita, Mac, Linux, and PC)

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Back in my Binding of Isaac Review I mentioned that a remake had been released under the name of Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and that it was more expensive and was pretty cool. It’s difficult to review Rebirth because it’s basically the same game as the original… and if that’s the case then what’s the purpose of making or purchasing a remake?

This is not a review of Rebirth. As it’s very similar to the Binding of Isaac Classic so if you wanna know what I think about Roguelike shooters check out that review. The question is, if you bought Binding of Isaac Classic is it even worth it to buy Rebirth? Is a Binding of Isaac remake worth $15?

History

Rebirth was developed by Nicalis with Edmund McMillen at the helm of design. Nicalis is a company that focuses on developing smaller indie titles and their record reads like Indie Gaming’s Greatest Hits with games like Cave Story and 1001 Spikes under their belt. McMillen’s desire to remake the game stemmed from his large dislike of having made the game in Flash. By the time he was done with the original there was no room to add more content and it was riddled with small glitches that seemed impossible to fix.

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was released on November 4th, 2014. It’s competition was Five Nights at Freddies 2 (PC), This War of Mine (PC), and Assassin’s Creed Unity (PC, PS4, and XBox One).

Experiences

To say that Binding of Isaac is big in my friend group is an understatement. We play it while we all voice-chat, in local multiplayer, and talk about our luckiest and unluckiest runs. Further, I feel like the slacker of the bunch. I’m basically the only one of them not to unlock Platinum God and all of the content. I’ve nearly doubled the time I played Binding of Isaac classic in the hours I’ve put into Rebirth and there’s still more things for me to unlock and do.

Why It’s Worth the Cost

150 new items. From silly odd things like Tiny Planet — which will make you the center of attention or at least your attacks– to even a new Guppy item, Guppy’s Collar, and the immensely powerful Sacred Heart. There are so many new toys to play with.

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Guppy’s Collar, now available at a Devil Deal near you.

It’s no longer on Flash so it will be easier to add more content in the future, paving the way for whatever new idea pops into McMillen’s head.

You can now donate extra money to shops in order to improve their item pool and increase the number of items they sell.

It’s easier to collect, and therefore find, accurate data about exactly how different items effect Isaac. Evil, luck, and faith are all now documentable statistics and the tooltips are more clear for items overall.

Items can now synergize. Transforming their powers into one incredibly powerful effect.

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Brimstone lasers + Tammy’s head creates a wave of destruction impossible in Classic.

Some problematic items that are generally accepted as bad have been improved and buffed, making them viable again — Ipecac will no longer fly over the heads of your enemies and lemon mishap… is slightly better.

Even more new characters such as, the undying Lazarus, the enigmatic Eden, and the sinister Azazel.

New smaller pickups like runes which generate bizarre card-like effects and batteries to recharge your chargeable items.

New bosses, enemies, champion types, and challenges. Some of which unlock even more new items.

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20 Challenges in the base game and Afterbirth adds 10 more.

If you quit the game you can now take up from where you left off– or abandon a godawful run.

New areas like The Dark Room which lies beyond Sheol. And the Boss Rush which can only be accessed after defeating Mom in under 20 minutes — gotta go speed!

New 16-bit art style.

Better code so things are less likely to go totally ham and less crashing — this also means fewer I am Error rooms but it’s a small price to pay.

Level seeds! Every run has an 8 digit seed which can be input to repeat the run. You can’t get achievements from seeded runs but now you can challenge a friend, or rival,  to see if they could do better in terms of time or effectiveness with your exact circumstances.

And more things than I can even fit in my brain space.

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Such as crawl-spaces hidden under rocks, leading to special hidden areas.

Reasons Against

There are a lot of things to relearn and some of your tricks from the Classic game might betray you now. Some old items don’t even work the same way any more.

All of the old music has been scrapped so all of those tunes you loved so much can only be heard in Binding of Isaac Classic.

I haven’t been able to get Afterbirth to run on my Vista Laptop. I’ve tried every fix and it just won’t work.

There’s no transferring your save so you’ll have to unlock everything you unlocked from Classic all over again.

Some bug-fixes have actually made things more difficult. Cain’s lucky foot no longer guarantees good pills and and you can no longer have an infinite number of soul hearts.

AFTERBIRTH!

Heads up! Rebirth has its own expansion already, goes by the name of Afterbirth and sells for $11. The same caveat that goes for Wrath of the Lamb goes for Afterbirth, Afterbirth spikes the difficulty up quite a bit. Afterbirth brings even more characters such as Lillith– forever accompanied by her faithful Incubus– and The Keeper — for whom greed is certainly good. Afterbirth also comes with new challenges and even more new items and synergies. Afterbirth brings the Spelunky daily run to the Binding of Isaac experience.. There’s even a new mode of play, Greed Mode — it’s like a normal run but way quicker, contained, and fueled by sweet sweet money.

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Behold the might and wrath of Ultra Greed.

That being said, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Azazel got a bunch of nerfs that people are still a little miffed about. And the difficulty spike might be too much for some.

The Verdict

I’m totally for it — I bought it after all. But I hope that these pros and cons can help you reach an informed decision. This is what Afterbirth is bringing to the basement — and taking away in some cases. I welcome these changes because I think they create a more fun game experience overall so I would say that Rebirth and Afterbirth are both sound gaming purchases.

Next Week: Cthulhu Saves the World

The Binding of Isaac (PC)

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Introduction

Like the world of the mad, a child’s perceptions are distorted. The world seems smaller with a house, the yard, or the town being the extent of the world’s reaches.

Isaac’s mother has heard the voice of God after listening to an awful lot of Christian broadcasting. God orders her to purge her son, Isaac, of sin. She does this by taking all of his things and locking him in his room. God then asks her to prove her devotion to him by killing her son which she is prepared to do with glee. With precious little time Isaac must find a way to escape. He finds a trap door under his rug and chooses to face the basement — and it’s untold horrors– rather than try to face his mother.

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Spoilers: They fight. (By Deviantart’s MickeyMonster)

History

It’s hard to believe that the Binding of Isaac was only developed by two guys, Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl — It’s equally difficult to believe that a game of such scope was made in Flash. What started as a week long gamejam with between the two turned into a much larger project, something they felt like they had to complete. After McMillen’s success with Super Meat Boy he was financially secure enough to make a big risk and make something he wanted to. He figured The Binding of Isaac would have met mediocre reviews and have its fans but he couldn’t predict the explosion of interest the little game would get.

Though not all was well in the world of Isaac. McMillen would go on to fix a few bugs and then release an expansion pack for the game called Wrath of The Lamb. It introduced more items, a new ending, a new equipment slot, and character challenges. He wanted to keep releasing more content for it but the size of the file and Flash’s limitations got in his way. He’d have to program it again, better, faster, stronger. But that’s a story for another day — or at least another game for another review.

Fun Fact: McMillen wanted to release The Binding of Isaac for the Nintendo 3DS but Nintendo rejected it for “Questionable Religious Content.”

The Binding of Isaac was released on September 28th, 2011. It’s competition was Dark Souls (PS3, XBox 360), Rage (PC, PS3, XBox 360), and X-Men: Destiny (PS3, XBox 360, Wii, DS).

Experiences

Time for a little trip to the rumor mill. With the exception of the Games intro and outro there’s no dialogue in this game at all. What plot there may be lurking is expressed through cinematics and cryptic hints. A few of these show Isaac drawing the events of the game and tacking the pictures to the walls. I view his adventures then as his personal journey to conquer his fears. Monstro, the misshapen face, is Isaac’s fear of being ugly for instance. Or Peep, the giant fat monster who urinates everywhere, would be Isaac’s fear of wetting himself or the bed. The only way that Isaac can fight these monsters is by crying on them, by bearing his emotions to them.

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And Isaac is afraid of a lot of stuff. All of this stuff to be precise.

His journey takes him deeper than material fears and issues, he goes to the womb, Sheol, the Cathedral. These places could represent his fears concerning the natures of life, death, and faith. Isaac’s journey finally takes him to The Chest which represents Isaac’s fear of the unknown, things he doesn’t even know whether to be afraid of.

Drop a comment and tell me what you think is going on.

Gameplay

The Binding of Isaac is a rogue-like game that mimics the structure of The Legend of Zelda’s Dungeons. For those not in the know a Rogue-Like is a game that has random game layout and permadeath — When Isaac dies you’ve got to start the whole game over. The game is not without its progression however. There are tons of items and characters to unlock and each of these unlocks carries over through playthroughs.

The Legend of Zelda influence is quite obvious. Between the existence of bombs and keys as major items to the map layout — I mean, Isaac’s health is a series of hearts. There are other game references littered around like a ladder that can help you cross gaps and a pickaxe that looks very much like it came out of Minecraft.

Your goal on each floor is the fight the boss and continue to the next floor — the boss also gives you a free item, ain’t he great? Items can do all sorts of things from increasing Isaac’s damage to making his tears phase through objects. Isaac can also hold one usable item, like a remote that makes him teleport to a random room on the floor, this item recharges after Isaac clears a few rooms. If you’re playing Wrath of the Lamb than Isaac can also find Trinkets that offer smaller and less reliable bonuses.

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Also, any items that are permanent bonuses change Isaac’s appearance. That little widow’s peak and fang show that Isaac is a vampire and regains health from defeating enemies.

The game is about resource managament. How many keys, bombs, and coins do you have vs what will most likely give you the best reward. Is it worth it to use this bomb to try to find a secret room or should you save it to deal with a really tough group of enemies? Should you use that key on that locked chest or do you want to spend your money on the locked shop? You’ve got to make the calls and you might die for it– and who would want poor little Isaac to die?

The Gush

The score in this game is wonderfully varied. It mixes in adventurous tunes for the earlier floors and becomes more moody and atmospheric the deeper Isaac goes. Boss fights feel outright triumphant in that moment when you have to take the upper hand or dodge a wall of bullets. Danny Barronowski really outdid himself with this one.

There’s so much to unlock in this game. There’s so much criteria for unlocking new stuff from blowing up rocks to beating bosses. You unlock items and even new characters. Each new character starts with different stats and most of them start with a signature item.

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I also like how each character is just Isaac in a costume with the exception of the Blue Baby.

Speaking of unlockable characters, I love Cain. Cain is the thief like character who starts off the game with a key and the Lucky Foot. The Lucky Foot makes Cain… well… lucky. He’s more likely to get items from enemies and he’s luckier in gambling games. It’s a quick and easy way to get more items and be able to get more items throughout the game.

I really like the biblical themes in this game. There are holy and unholy objects all over the basement and it feels really cool to theme Isaac if it’s possible. I also like how all the characters are named after different biblical characters.

The Rogue-Like elements turned me off at first. I was dissatisfied with the idea of losing all my cool stuff. But that was soon replaced with the opportunity to get even cooler stuff and crush my enemies. The further I got the more I figured about Isaac as well.

The Kvetch

If you buy this game then don’t get the Wrath of the Lamb expansion along with it unless you’re confident in your abilities to deal with it. The Wrath of the Lamb makes the game a lot harder. The bosses and enemies that it introduces are stronger than the previous ones. I know too many people who stopped playing because they got the Wrath of the Lamb before they unlocked enough cool stuff to give them the edge they’d need.

Little complaint here. Isaac’s movement is a little slippery. His walk has got momentum and the higher his speed the more he’ll slide. This sliding has a nasty habit of making him run into spikes and all sorts of nasty stuff.

This game is also a lot about luck. If you get good items that synergize really well then you’re going to have a good time. If you find Lemon Mishap — an item that makes Isaac piss himself– then you’re going to have a bad time.

The game is a little immature. The basements are filled with piles of poop that might have treasure inside them. The game is filled with scatelogical humor and sometimes it gets on my nerves.

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At least this explains the flies.

The Verdict

If you’ve liked anything that I’ve talked about this far then I suggest you get this game. It’s only five dollars and it’s on Steam. I’ve got 50 hours clocked for this game and I’ve also purchased it’s sweet re-release The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. If you don’t want to make the jump between the original and Rebirth then you can just get Rebirth with its 15 dollar price tag. Rebirth takes the issues from the Wrath of the Lamb Expansion and spreads that difficulty across the experience. So, take your pick.

Next Week: Kirby’s Dream Land III