PMG Presents: Three Games by Edmund McMillen

I am the Poor Man’s Gamer, here to give PC gamers the most for their limited funds and limited hardware.  Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses and I will show them gaming paradise.

-Yours Truly,

PMG

Edmund_McMillen_-_Game_Developers_Conference_2010_-_Day_2_cropped

I am the Poor Man’s Gamer, here to help PC gamers get the best games for their money and their PCs.  Today I would like to share with you three games developed by the brilliant Edmund McMillen.

Most people may not be familiar with McMillen, but I hope that many of you reading this will at least be familiar with his masterpiece, Super Meat Boy.  For those of you who don’t know, Super Meat Boy is a platformer, to put it simply.  To put it in more complex terms, Super Meat Boy is a ridiculously difficult, fast-paced, highly addictive platformer about a boy with no skin who tries to save his girlfriend (who is made of bandages) from a fetus in a jar.  Take a minute for the bizarreness of that statement to sink in.  [PAUSE] This is quintessential Edmund McMillen.

Super Meat Boy began its life as a flash game on Newgrounds.com to great acclaim.  The acclaim was so great that soon McMillen was approached to make a version of the game for home consoles and PCs.  In 2009 McMillen, along with Tommy Refenes, began work on the new version of ‘Meat Boy.’  It was released nearly two years later after countless struggles against time the game was released[*].

The finished game was built with simple gameplay, tight controls, and an incrementally small margin for error (think the Dark Souls of platformers).  The game is a ruthless beating which you will return to again and again, in agony as you try in vain to progress “one more level.”

I will say one thing I have against the game on PC is how hard it is to control with the arrow keys on a keyboard opposed to say a joystick on a Xbox 360 controller.  Super Meat Boy requires directional precision when it comes to running and jumping at a million miles per second that cannot be offered by arrow keys.  I saw an immense change when I moved over from my keyboard to a controller.  Levels that I thought were impassable suddenly became easier than Baby’s First Super Mario Bros.

Still if you can get past the button mashing or if you have a 360 controller to plug into your computer I would say get this game.  I dare you to try and beat it in one sitting.  In terms of hardware, Super Meat Boy should work on just about everything, PC and Mac, so don’t worry about how old or slow your computer is.  It retails on Steam for $14.99, but you should really wait for it to go on sale, because it goes on sale frequently, probably once a month, and for anywhere from 50% to 80% off.  You are a fool to buy it at full price.

 

Next on my list of McMillen greats is a little game called The Binding of Isaac.  In this game you play as Isaac, a small, bald-headed, crying boy whose mother is out to kill him after being spoken to by God.  Isaac runs away from his mother into the basement where he discovers his deformed and mutilated brothers and sisters.  The game is a rogue-like which entails moving through dungeons (reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda) shooting your tears at your damned brethren and mutilating yourself to gain even greater powers and abilities.  At the end of each dungeon you face a boss and kill them to move on. Each time you play the dungeons and items you pick up are randomly generated so no experience is ever the same as another.

The way you win The Binding of Isaac is with luck, nothing more, nothing less.  You can do a playthrough where you get nothing but items which make you a walking tank, and then you can die accidentally and play another game where you die on the first level because you ran into a fly.  There is no leveling up and the only way to go further in the game is to get better at it, which is not an easy task.

But still there is no denying that Binding of Isaac is fun and with less frustration than Super Meat Boy, but not that much less.  This game will, like most McMillen games, run on absolutely everything, probably even most graphing calculators, and the fact is it retails for only $4.99, so even when it’s not on sale it is cheap.  One note I have is that there is currently DLC available for The Binding of Isaac, but I would not recommend it.  It doesn’t add anything that really changes the game, just more enemies, more items, more bosses.  It may sound like a lot, but in a game where there are over 100 items, over 50 enemies, and over 20 bosses, the additions seem pretty boring.  In the days I’ve spent playing The Binding of Isaac I still haven’t seen everything from the vanilla game.  If you are still interested, the DLC is called Wrath of Lamb and it costs $2.99 on Steam.

 

Last of all is a group of games that have a special place in my heart.

I first came in contact with Edmund McMillen while I was still in highschool, playing flash games online.  One of my favorites was a little game called Time Fcuk (and I did spell that right).  It was a platformer about a man who travels into other timelines and other dimensions platforming his way towards the end with a sentient growth named ‘Steve.’  I loved this game and played through it probably five times.  At the time I just thought it was a cool game, I had no idea Edmund McMillen had anything to do with it.  I also remember playing games like Aether and Coil, they were just so unique that to this day I remember them as being more fun than a barrel full of monkeys and more unique than a jellyfish clown party.

After I got into Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac I discovered The Basement Collection, a collection of 7 of McMillen’s classic flash games, including Meat Boy, Aether, Time Fcuk, Spewer, Grey Matter, Coil, and Triachnid, all of which are like no other game around.

Also included in this bundle is a treasure chest of drawings and videos of and by McMillen, as well as 2 unlockable games.  It will give you tons of enjoyment if you are a McMillen junkie, but if you’re not and you only want to dip your feet into the world of early McMillen, then I would suggest just going onto Newgrounds.com and playing the flash versions of all these games.  If you were to buy it, it retails for $3.99 on Steam.

 

Of all these games I think The Binding of Isaac is clearly the best deal and the most fun.  It seems less ruthless than Super Meat Boy while retaining the replayability and the fun.  If you find that you are deeply intrigued by Edmund McMillen, then there is one more game for you: Gish.  It is one of McMillen’s first games and probably the strangest.  It’s a game about a strange ball of slime.  Sadly I can’t give you my personal opinion on it, having not played it.  If you choose to buy it, it retails for $9.99 on Steam.

 

 Meatboy  Isaac

Super Meat Boy

The Binding of Isaac

$14.99

Core Game – $4.99

Wrath of Lamb DLC -$2.99

Indie, Platformer

Action, Adventure, RPG, Indie

 

 TheBasementCollection  Gish

The Basement Collection

Gish

$3.99

$9.99

Adventure, Strategy, Indie, Platformer

Indie

 


[*] For a more complete record check out Indie Game: The Movie.  I highly recommend it.

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