Staying true to what made the original game so much fun is crucial, he says. The team will stick with the simple running-and-jumping gameplay formula, while tightening up controls and redesigning levels from scratch to increase their complexity. Side-scrolling areas, full-screen levels, and epic boss fights will be sprinkled into the game. All-told, McMillen expects the finished game will have around 100 levels, including hidden areas, warp zones and an unlockable expert chapter. Co-op, versus and a four-player party mode are in the works, and a level editor is being considered. To spice up the game's multiplayer modes, he's made arrangements to include characters from other popular indie games in versus mode. It's a feature the team is very excited about. 12 indie developers are signed on, and their characters will be unlocked by collecting Band-Aids throughout the game. SMB will also sport an updated art style and, naturally, "tons of new things that will kill you."
Work began in January when the Wii development kit arrived, says Refenes, who is programming the title using an engine he created and refined for a previous game called Goo!. While McMillen initially spent some time agonizing over (and eventually settling on) a new visual design for the protagonist, Refenes began putting together the low-level framework for SMB. They hope to have PC and WiiWare versions wrapped up by the end of the year, and both versions are being programmed side-by-side. Making the game for two very different platforms poses some challenges, since the Wii's graphical power isn't as advanced as current generation graphics cards. "It's a little bit like stepping back in time, but it's fun to go back and find creative ways to do things that would just be a simple shader with current tech," says Refenes, who derives energy from knowing the programming code he's writing is compiling and running on the Wii. "I grew up with Nintendo, so it's a dream realized to be making a Nintendo game."
McMillen also notes it's hard to avoid a certain measure of residual fanboyism for Nintendo, and it's great to see the gaming giant finally supporting indie developers. There's a huge nostalgia factor, and he feels creating Super Meat Boy for a Nintendo console makes perfect sense; it pays homage to all the great NES games from way back when. Nintendo has been very supportive and enthusiastic about their project, despite the game and its creators' trademark edginess. No one wants to be spoon fed the same generic dribble over and over again, he adds, and it's good to see fresh and strange ideas from indie developers finding their way into the mainstream. As long as these folks continue making quality games, he feels it will open additional doors to more experimental and great indie content.
"It's time for creative people with different ideas to have a voice, and I think the indie scene screams with that voice. It's awesome that people are finally listening," he says. "If there's a crowd of normal people and one of them is nude, people are going to wonder what the hell's up with that nude guy, what's he up to. Meat Boy is that nude guy."
Nathan Meunier is a freelance writer, a regular contributor at The Escapist, and a die-hard indie gaming enthusiast.