Super Meat Boy Afterwords

Posted on January 1, 2011

We spoke with creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes at length about the origins of Meat Boy, battling PETA, designing Braid characters, and why they’ll never make another punishing platformer again.

How did the idea for Meat Boy first come about?

Edmund McMillen, artist and designer: I got tired of my old designs like Gish. I wanted to come up with new characters and I wanted them all to be superheroes with something very wrong with them — like some sort of major downside. One of them was Meat Boy, which was originally called Inside Out Ninja, who was a ninja that was super agile, but had no skin so he was in pain always and if he touched anything he would die. And then Dr. Fetus who was a genius evil villain, but he was a fetus in a jar. First I did Meat Boy with a friend of mine named Jon McEntee. Tommy wasn’t involved in the original prototype. But that was around the time that I was starting to work with him. I think it took about three weeks. I didn’t really think  much of it, honestly. It was just a really basic platformer that was going to be super hard. It suddenly became one of my most popular Flash games.

And then shortly after that I started working with Tommy on a game called Grey Matter. And that did pretty well, too. It was around that time that I released a CD called This Is A Cry For Help that was a collection of my work. It was around that time where publishers started contacting me and asking if I wanted to work on console games. One of the first people to contact me was Nintendo. And that was actually in response to this video that I did where I kept calling Reggie [Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, about getting on WiiWare].

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I basically started talking to Nintendo, but I didn’t really have any options in doing a console game because nobody that I knew actually could program for a console. And then suddenly I realized that Tommy could program for consoles because that’s what he used to do. I was like “Hey, Tommy. Want to do a Wii game?” And Tommy’s like “Yeah, maybe.”

We just pooled our money and got a kit and started working on the Wii version. Around that time as well I was talking to Microsoft and I was working on doing a console version of Gish or Gish 2 and that fell to pieces because the guy that I was working with also fell to pieces. So we kind of did the switcherooni with Microsoft and said “Hey, what about Meat Boy?” They said okay and that was that.

When did you realize that Super Meat Boy was going to be a bigger project than it was originally?

Tommy Refenes, programmer and designer: It was probably when Nintendo flew me out to this London event in September 2009. The reception to the game there was insane. People just kept coming back to our game and playing it over and over and over. At that time we were only planning on like 100 levels, no bosses, nothing really special — just a very small game that we were going to put out. It was never even in our heads to sell it for anything more than $10. But when we saw people playing it it was just like, “We should probably go above and beyond with this one.” It just kind of ballooned from there and we just kept adding to it. Do you remember when we decided to add bosses?

McMillen: I remember sketching up the first boss right when you came back. I think it was when you were telling the story about how the guy from Konami…

Refenes: Oh, when I showed him the replay thing and he was like, “We’re going to steal that.” And I said, “You better hurry.” [laughs]

McMillen: Around that time we were talking about releasing the game in March on Wii and we secured the deal with Microsoft officially. It took us like four months to finalize the deal with them and actually officially announce. We’re like, “Why not go all out and push ourselves to the limit since we’re already pushing it back past March? We’ll go for Summer of Arcade and just beef it up as much as we can.” And I decided to double the levels because I’m [crazy].

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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets


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