If you’re into indie games and indie game music, the MAGFest event quickly becomes a star-studded event. One such star is Danny Baranowsky, composer of the runaway hit XBLA title Super Meat Boy. The game sold like hotcakes, in no small part due to its incredibly fun, addictive, and challenging gameplay as a puzzle/platformer.
But, even in passing, one cannot help but notice the super-hip music to this wonderful game. That’s why I was so excited when I bumped into the composer, who was selling copies of the limited edition double-disc soundtrack that he kept in his backpack. I’d played a couple hours of SMB at a friend’s house and wanted to dig deeper into the soundtrack. Here was the opportunity, literally standing in front of me.
Props to Danny for independently printing this two disc set, which was just released on January 11th (the week before MAGFest). We’re going to slice this meaty package apart after the jump; you’ll not want to miss it!
So here’s how this two disc album, entitled “Nice To Meat You,” is broken down. The first disc is the OST proper, following a general pattern of “Light World, Dark World, Boss” for each chapter. The second disc includes some arranged material from other indie artists, as well as some short jingles and unused music. People who want Super Meat Boy’s soundtrack in its entirety and then some should try to hunt down this album.
Things start off silly and fun from the very start, but my favorite tracks start after we get the initial stuff out of the way. Chapter 2’s music, both Light and Dark tracks, are totally awesome. Though I’m tempted to do this throughout, it is most prominently here that I would compare Danny B’s work to that of artist “Module” on one of my favorite soundtracks of 2009, Shatter. The in-your-face electronic glam-rock found in the Chapter 2 music simply makes me giddy. If you want to have a dance party, just have someone play the levels from SMB Chapter 2 in another room with the speakers up really loud, and you’re set for hours.
Everyone has their favorite tracks, and those are mine. But let’s quickly touch on some of the other chapters before we head into the second disc. Generally, I find myself really digging the Dark World tracks. Baranowsky has a great sense for what makes “darker” music enjoyable. You can have a piece in a minor theme and still convey an overall mood of fun and excitement. The tempo, the melody, the instrumentation — all of these things affect the listener’s experience. Generally, things stay at a consistently fast tempo with a pulsing beat. Chapter 3’s Dark World music, “Rocket Rider,” is sure to please electronica fans.
Chapter 4 is hot-hot-hot all over. “Hot Damned,” the Light World music, combines a crunchy grunge-style guitar part with lots of synths in a fairly up-tempo beat. But things just go insane in the Dark World track “Devil n’ Bass.” The synth lead melody starts the track at an insane pace, and the extra percussion mixed in here is just mind-blowing. And then the boss theme: “Meat Golem.” In-your-face hard rock. I love that the musical style of this soundtrack manages a balance of diversity within an overarching genre but overall consistency in one category: “epic.”
(Yes, “epic” is an overused word, especially on the Internet, but I’m using it anyway!)
Those brave souls who venture beyond the normal game to take on the “secret” ending will find themselves in the dreaded Chapter 6. The boss music, “Carmeaty Burana,” further reinforces my use of the word epic. I mean, just look at the title. You know what you’re in for. It’s like a synth opera from heaven and/or hell.
“Meat Spin” … *shudders* … hilarious track title choice, and fitting that it’s for user-submitted “Internet” levels.
Disc one wraps up with these awesome retro chiptune versions of the Light World themes, used for the hidden Warp Zones. The first time my ears perked up while playing Super Meat Boy was when my friend found a Warp in the first chapter. Hearing them again makes me super happy.
All in all, the first disc, the “original soundtrack” portion, is fantastic and worthwhile on its own. But what are we going to find on that “Extras” disc?
The first seven tracks are remixes by Danny’s peers in the community: OCRemix folks, other indie game composers and chiptune artists, etc. It’s a nice mix of awesome people, and they each bring something different to the table. You have guys like Benjamin Briggs pulling a similar electronica-synth-heavy sound, and then you have Josh Whelchel doing this ridiculous pop-rock anthem/ballad with Melinda Hershey. Chiptunes abound with the Inverse Phase track. Another Soundscape brings the funk with some bass-heavy grooves, and Android-Music provides a heavy metal anthem. Some of it is just silly and absurd, but from a musical standpoint, it’s all good.
After that, we get a taste of some of the “other” music. Disc one was filled with fairly substantial music, most tracks running for 3 minutes or more. The rest of disc two consists of songs ranging from 20 seconds to 2 minutes. These are the shorter, oft-neglected tracks of any game’s soundtrack.
Completionists will appreciate the rest of disc two, and there are certainly some interesting tracks on here. The “Flash” prototype tracks are some of my favorites.
I’m extremely thankful that, in this age of digital-only distribution, there are still a few people willing to print physical copies. I love having “Nice To Meat You” on my CD shelf; props to Danny for taking it upon himself to publish this physical version. I highly recommend it to all Super Meat Boy fans, as well as fans of the indie game music scene. If you’re only interested in having some of the audio from the two disc set, you can get the old digital-only one-disc OST here. Those who want the full “Nice To Meat You” two disc set, in digital or physical form, will want to go here.
(Both links are to bandcamp, where Danny B offers all of his music.)
You can pay $10 for an unsigned copy or $15 for a signed copy. As of last check, the CD is already out of stock and they had to do another print (surprise surprise). We’re happy for the success of the SMB team and Danny B, and we hope all you VGM nuts at least do yourself the service of checking out the streaming audio on bandcamp to see if our tastes align. Strangely enough, while I am a vegetarian, I would happily go for a second serving of this “Meat.” How about you?Tags: Bandcamp, Bonus Disc, Danny Baranowsky, MAGFest 9, Meat Spin, Nice To Meat You, Super Meat Boy!, XBLA