Team Meat And Super Meat Boy iOS: Put Up Or Shut Up
Like many gamers, I thoroughly enjoyed Super Meat Boy when it debuted on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. I'll stop short of calling it revolutionary, but considering the attention the industry pays to 3D graphics and money-making franchises, this challenging 2D platformer was a refreshing change of pace. That said, Super Meat Boy seemed like an ideal fit for iPhone and iPad. Granted, virtual controls cannot compare to using a physical controller (pinpoint precision flies out the proverbial window), but plenty of developers did a good enough job to make the world believe virtual buttons were a decent alternative. Suffice to say, Team Meat should have jumped on the Apple bandwagon, if not with Super Meat Boy, then another platform adventure to help support the thriving indie community. Oh, and to potentially make some money along the way.
Instead, it did the exact opposite, electing to bash mobile gaming instead of support it. OK, fine. I can deal with that. They simply didn't want to jeopardize the brand's quality with a game that failed to do the character justice.
What Team Meat probably didn't realize at the time, a fact many developers have learned the hard way, is that if you refuse to bring your game to iOS and/or Android, someone else will. Someone else wound up being Ravenous Games, which delivered League of Evil and its sequel, aptly titled League of Evil 2, to the masses. Roughly the same concept as Super Meat Boy, but with unique characters, levels and objectives. Thus, Meat Boy (and Team Meat) were on the outside looking in.
Now, all of a sudden, there's Super Meat Boy: The Game for iOS, and based on recent posts on the Team Meat blog, I'm having a tough time believing these guys are excited about developing it. Begrudgingly seems like a more appropriate word. Yes, it's on the way. More importantly, Team Meat apparently sees fit to criticize mobile gaming each step of the way, and this is why I have mixed feelings about the game's very existence.
It's one thing to set out to change the mobile gaming landscape with something fresh and unique. It's another to come off pompous in doing so, and right now, Team Meat walks a fine line between wanting to introduce actual change for the good of Apple's iOS platform and acting like its you-know-what doesn't stink.
Case in point, Team Meat's opinion of games that flaunt in-app purchases. From its blog:
words can not express how fucking wrong and horrible this is, for games, for gamers and the platform as a whole... this business tactic is a slap in the face to actual game design and embodies everything that is wrong with the mobile/casual video game scene.
...we want to make a game that WE would love to see on the platform, a feature length reflex driven platformer with solid controls that doesn't manipulate you with business bullshit in order to cash in. We want SMG:TG to show the player we respect them, not only by not manipulating them, but also by understanding they want a real challenge and they want a real sense of fulfillment when they have achieved something that's difficult... you know, like real games do.
I'll agree that companies have gone overboard with in-app purchases. Seems like almost every game these days dangles virtual currency/magic orbs in front of my face, whereas a console game may do so without the temptation of spending additional cash, though these days, that's hardly the case, DLC being what it is. At the same time, this is for free or $0.99 mobile games, in comparison to $59.99 console titles or even the $15 Super Meat Boy on XBLA. OK, so I spent another $0.99 for 1,000 gold. I'm still well below the average priced Xbox 360 game.
On top of that, I take issue with Team Meat's mention of "real games", which basically implies that something like Frontline Commando, Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride aren't. That's where I can't help but scratch my head and ask, why is Super Meat Boy so much different? What about this basic platformer will save the mobile industry? Last I checked, it still involves jumping over spikes, and I was doing that in Sonic the Hedgehog back in the early 90s.
With that, I'll welcome Super Meat Boy: The Game with open arms, as will other players, but I'll do so simply because I dig the character and the gameplay, and not because I need Team Meat to save me from Infinity Blade 2.
On that note, I would be more than happy to speak to Team Meat about their opinions on the mobile industry. Perhaps some clarification is in order.