Edmund McMillen’s art style and dark humor have made him an inveterate figure in the indie gaming community. Looking at this footage, you could probably have guessed he made these games. And if we were to ask you what his first game was, you’d probably say, “Super Meat Boy.” That’s understandable. But games like Super Meat Boy aren’t the glorious debuts most gamers think they are. Indie game devs learn how to make games…by making games. Those journeyman works are usually relegated to school projects, portfolios, or browser gaming sites. With his Basement Collection, McMillen shows off his earlier projects. Some of them are hidden gems, and some of them are the gaming equivalent of a hastily-assembled ‘bonus feature’ on a dvd. But The Basement Collection offers a unique insight to the development of McMillen’s style, and it’s an experience we think you’ll enjoy.
The Basement Collection bundles together seven titles, with smaller games and other features unlockable as you complete each game. The main course is the original flash game Meat Boy, on which the infamous Super Meat Boy is based. But there’s plenty of meat in this collection: we were especially fond of Spewer and Time Fcuk. Coil, Aether, Grey Matter, and Triachnid are all more than worth checking out.
Meat Boy is a prototype of the title which made McMillen what he is now. Unsurprisingly, we’re diehard fans of Super Meat Boy, so we were very eager to go back and see how the original compares. The mechanics are mostly in place: you can run, jump, collect bandages, unlock new characters, and so on. The game is still punishingly difficult, and the lack of gamepad support doesn’t help. We would have preferred a gamepad over the keyboard controls, but that’s a matter of personal preference. Still, the fact that it isn’t supported at all was a negative for us.
Spewer and Time Fcuk are both puzzle platformers with a decent amount of content behind them. Time Fcuk is especially trippy, with its muted color palette, 8-bit graphics and grainy filters. The puzzles are challenging and the banter is irreverent and hilarious. Spewer is a platformer where you play a science experiment with a unique power: it can regurgitate at will, and use the contents of its stomach to move around. It’s really fun, if a bit odd. Honestly we’d like to see Spewer get the same super treatment Meat Boy did.
The Basement Collection is one of the most intelligent, and simultaneously the most childish pieces of work we’ve ever encountered. One game sees you controlling a character which literally propels itself with projectile vomit, while the next studies the dependence of one person upon another, wrapped in the analogy of the conception and development of a fetus. We were scratching our heads the whole time, and we loved it.
The music in this collection is phenomenal. Anyone who’s played Super Meat Boy or The Binding of Isaac is familiar with the music of Danny Baranowsky. Baranowsky scores some of the games in this collection, and the rest are covered by equally talented composers. The game comes with the soundtrack, which is nothing short of fantastic. We’re listening to the music on loop while writing this review, as a matter of fact.
The Basement Collection is a set of oddities, and while it isn’t the next big indie hit – it offers a unique insight to the career of one of the greatest indie game developers of this generation. We’d recommend it to any fans of Super Meat Boy or The Binding of Isaac, or anyone who simply wants a little bit of weird in their gaming lives. We give The Basement Collection a ‘Worth Buying.’