ReMix: Super Meat Boy 'Power of the Meat'
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Streaming preview on YouTube
Disturbing moral vegetarians and vegans everywhere, Super Meat Boy is the tale of one piece of meat's journey to rescue the bandage girl he loves from the evil clutches of Dr. Fetus. Regardless of whoever that premise offends, it's also a tight piece of platform gaming with an N+-style mechanic that features long-distance pinpoint jumping and relatively brief levels. What instantly pulled me in was the accumulation of blood on the various buzz saws that butcher our poor protagonist at every misstep, which happened to me a lot. I was proud just to be able to beat the first world (awesome boss w/ awesome music), that my waning gamer chops hadn't deteriorated to outright extinction...
Well, I did now. We interviewed Mr. B awhile back, which you should check out if you haven't, but now that Super Meat Boy is released upon XBLA, he's all the more famous. You can grab the soundtrack at bandcamp; it's the OST plus mixes by the likes of Inverse Phase (aka Brendan aka Mr. MAGFest), AnSo, and of course, Josh Whelchel and Melinda Hershey (aka Poolside), with this mix that's somewhat reminiscent of their excellent Final Fantasy 8 OCR debut in its maximalist, male+female vocal, over-the-top popness. The power of the meat may be a curious thing, make a one man weep, make another man sing, but in this case it's not a Huey Lewis reference, but apparently a direct acknowledgment of the real, ultimate power of, well... meat. Mr. Whelchel 'splains himself:
"Super Meat Boy's soundtrack is a retrogamer's dream, and though technically not a chiptune soundtrack (don't be fooled!), it is full of 8bit inspired melodies and instrumentation which throws the ears back to the days of Mario, Luigi, Samus, and my favorite pixelated Link. Danny has done an incredible job of being true to the roots while nearly inventing a new genre of incredibly catchy music that helps relieve the tension caused by screaming at terribly difficult gaming experience. If the curiosity of the reward won't bring you back to the TV screen to play Super Meat Boy, then certainly the soundtrack will. Baranowsky also takes advantage of retro "warp zones" to create chiptune-inspired versions of the main themes in the game in homage to music of olde.
When Danny first approached me to do a remix for him, I had no idea what to do - so I started off throwing some electronic things together that had mild chip-inspirations. Before I knew what I was doing, it was incredibly apparent that I needed to call Melinda, fresh from her service trip to Uganda, to add the missing link: vocals. After a quick synopsis of the game and a few screenshots Melinda was writing lyrics, tackling the main chorus' with the lines of Meat Boy and Bandage Girl. It didn't take much after that for me to write the lines of a very quirky Dr. Fetus to finish the job. We used some of the layering ideas we laid precedent with "Shine Tonight" to really seal the deal, and this is the result.
Most of the music here revolves around what's heard in Chapter 2 ("Betus Blues"), but themes from the entire game peak through, namely with an interlude of Chapter 1 ("Forest Funk"). The bass line of Ch2 mostly drives the mix, but I alternate between a lot of the sections heard in that song as well, including some of the alberti and hocket type passages. I even throw a few augmented sixth chords in to freshen the music up a bit, which can be heard in the beginning.
"Power of the Meat" is intended to show just how incredible this little Meat Boy truly is. He's.... SUPER. (haha what?)"
You're so high. While I do get a little tired of folks drawing lines in the sand about what is and isn't TRUE, REAL, 100% CHIPTUNE (I'm generally wary of purists in all guises), the point here is that Danny is all over the place, with some tracks being completely chippy, others blending chip timbres in, and still others being completely unchiply. Basically, he did whatever the hell he wanted to, and it resulted in an OST that's not just another great indie game soundtrack, but a veritable statement. It segues in and out of retro-nostalgia in a way that keeps you guessing and meshes with the game's changing aesthetic, and seems very much the work of an inspired composer who was allowed to do completely as he wished. You could perhaps say that it's OCD, shifting from one aesthetic (visually & musically) to the next, but in this case that fits the game mechanic of challenging, short-order platforming like a glove. Because the game is relatively hard, if you're like me you're going to hear this music a LOT, and it's a testament to the composer and his vision that, like Wise's theme to Wizards & Warriors as one example, it doesn't get old or annoying even in the midst of frustration, dying, and replaying the same level 30 times until you get it right. Great stuff from an artist who's given a ton to our community - personally, this will be a game I think about when I think about great modern game soundtracks, and I'm really proud and honored that it comes from someone who has been and hopefully will continue to be involved with OverClocked ReMix. Yes, I used the full site name there for extra-dramatic emphasis.
Now, regarding this mix - pretty much everything I said about "Shine Tonight" applies here, as well. It's almost got a rock opera/musical theater vibe going with the different characters and male/female call-answer and layering, and with the semi-rapping and crazy vox fx, it's probably even more flamboyant and indulgent than its predecessor, in a good way. Lyrics are fantastic - let's face it, "fetus" NEEDED to be rhymed with "beat us" - and are all the better if you've played the game (play the game!), and the recurring vocal hooks & motifs, fakey retro-guitars, hard-sync'd synths, pizzicato, vocoding, and epic strings are all synchronized 110% with the spirit of Danny's soundtrack and the wholesome, Grade A USDA lean universe of Super Meat Boy.
This is a great OST that shows what Baranowsky is truly capable of, with a great ReMix by Josh & Melinda that's catchy as hell and highlights all that is true and good about the source. Makes me cry little tears of meat just thinkin' bout it. And now, for the gratuitous closing pun you've been waiting for:
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