Team Meat explains what went wrong with WiiWare's Super Meat Boy

Posted Dec 24th 2010 4:00PM by Ludwig Kietzmann

If Super Meat Boy were to launch on WiiWare today, it would have no leaderboards, no Dark World levels and no support for downloadable additions. Boss fights and cutscenes would have no musical accompaniment, and only six music tracks (including just one for retro-themed levels) would be present. In the words of designer Edmund McMillen, it would be "a piece of shit version of Super Meat Boy."

When McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes, who together form Team Meat, tested a version of their loopy platformer that could fit under the (previously disputed) 40MB file-size limit imposed by Nintendo's WiiWare service, they weren't satisfied with the compromises and decided to cancel it. "There is no way to avoid the fact that if we released a 40MB version of Super Meat Boy it would be a shit version of the game," McMillen told Joystiq. "It's a lose lose situation, but the fact of the matter is if we release a shitty game, we will have to live with that for the rest of our careers and have to cop to the fact that it is a shitty game."

Having grown in size and ambition since it was announced for WiiWare in early 2009, the Super Meat Boy of today would have to shed several features -- picked up on the way to Xbox Live Arcade, PC and Mac -- before it could circle back to Wii. Team Meat wasn't going to budge and, contrary to their early assumption, neither was Nintendo.

"We knew of the limits early on but overestimated our ability to get Nintendo to raise the file size," McMillen said. "It's lame that there is a 40MB cap on WiiWare games ... but it was our fault for blindly assuming this cap wasn't set in stone, and we are sorry for that." McMillen added that the team's finances would take a hit after the file-size showdown, but it wouldn't wither their support of Nintendo platforms in the future.

Team Meat has sought some breathing room on a Wii retail disc, but at least three publishers find third-party success stories a bit too rare. "We assumed our options would be good, and they might get better now that we have won some awards," McMillen said. "Right now we have talked to three larger publishers who have passed on the title because they believe Wii retail is a bad idea profit wise. Most places we have talked to believe that only Nintendo brand games sell well on their system and don't even understand why we want to release Wii retail." McMillen and Refenes will still stalk some smaller publishers, but have expressed concern over the attitudes they've encountered thus far.

There'll be plenty of attitude coming at them from disappointed day-one fans, but McMillen believes they'll understand or play the game on a different platform. And take this advice about assumptions: "Don't let this or the fact that SMB isnt releasing on PS3 or Wiiware fool you into thinking we don't [love] Sony or Nintendo, we love them all," he said. "If we had the ability the game would be released on ALL systems, but it just doesn't seem like that was in the cards this time."

When asked if Super Meat Boy's problematic squishing crisis could have been foreseen back in 2009, Edmund gave us this answer: "Probably, honestly we got so lost in making a cool game we totally forgot about how strict the limitations for the Wii were, we just wanted to make something huge and the game got a little out of control." It's that out-of-control nature -- regardless of WiiWare's limitations -- that has made Super Meat Boy a favorite among critics in 2010.

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