Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Music Appreciation - Super Meat Boy

Because music is all that keeps the silence away.

   What is Music Appreciation? It's where I present the fine work of the men and women in the video game industry's long under-appreciated music design. What are my qualifications to do so? Virtually none. I'm a writer by trade, and have little to no understanding of what makes the funny sounds come out of the round things on my desk. What I do know is what I like; video game soundtracks.

   For my first run, I have the esteemed pleasure of presenting a few samples of the soundtrack to Super Meat Boy. When I first started following this Indie Darling, I was hooked with the neo-retro design, the outrageous sense of narrative, and the good ol' fashioned controls. The game delivered all of that by the pound and then some. What really caught me off guard was how striking the soundtrack was. It's almost immediately apparent exactly what Super Meat Boy is going for: something that throws old school and new, without disappointing on any front.

   (I always told myself I wouldn't include these jumps, but honestly, it's probably much easier on my page viewing. My apologies ahead of time.)

   The Forest is a great start. The progression through each level gives you the impression, musically and visually, that the creators have an incredible fondness for the days of old, and an uncanny capacity for making it feel new and shiny. Trust me. They know how to make it classic.

   It's like my NES returned from the grave to tell me everything's going to be okay...

   Every level has a dark side to it in Super Meat Boy, and while those dark versions retain some of their original tune, they move on to establish themselves as well. What's one to do in a level called Hell? Naturally, throw in a lot of guitars.

   And what do you do in Dark Side Hell? Drum 'n Bass, of course. Or muzak, if you're Earthworm Jim, but I digress.

   What works so well for the Meatboy soundtrack is that even though you can spend an hour in one world, throwing your head against the brick wall that is the latter half of the game, the soundtrack never tires. That's important for a game like Meat Boy. One wrong tune could have caused your frustration to boil over to a point that forced you to throw your controller down and discover the world outside. Fortunately, it does enough to pacify the player and keep them coming back for more of the hate. A kudos to Super Meat Boy.

   While I would love to play more music, I have this strange notion that I'll be entering "spoiler territory." Can you spoil a soundtrack? I think you can, and I wouldn't want to take it away from you. However, if you've got the gumption to go about spoiling such a pretty thing, then I can provide you method for doing so: purchasing the soundtrack.

   Oh sure, you could listen to it on YouTube or find a torrent somewhere. But for a soundtrack this good, I don't think the asking price is too mighty. It's only $3.99, DRM free, for any MP3 player. You could skip on the fast food once this week to pick up music to last you forever. And frankly, nobody wanted to say anything, but you probably could stand to put down the fast food once this week. Just saying.

   How have you enjoyed the music of Super Meat Boy, reader(s)? Have the new-old school sounds impressed you? Do they resonate deep in your psyche? I love to know that I'm not the only person who obsesses over this stuff, and wishes they had the know-how to further appreciate it.

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