In 2010, indie developers Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes took the games industry by storm with their novel and acclaimed platformer Super Meat Boy. Danny Baranowsky captured the contrasting levels and manic gameplay of the title with a score that blended contemporary, retro, and orchestral elements. He previously created a short score for the predecessor Meat Boy and fleshed out many of these pieces on Super Meat Boy. The definitive soundtrack release for the title, Nice To Meat You, is a two disc set featuring numerous originals, seven remixes, and various other bonuses.
The soundtrack begins with "Boy Meats Girl", a simple track featuring acoustic guitar chords and nostalgic synth overlays. The innocent and romantic mood perfectly reflects Meat Boy's relationship with Bandage Girl. The subsequent title track is too brief to be of interest, but introduces the rock emphasis featured throughout the rest of the soundtrack. Indeed, most subsequent tracks blend contemporary and retro influences, with chiptune sounds being mixed with shredding guitar riffs and hard drum beats.
The tracks labeled with light world, such as "Forest Funk", feature cheerful and exciting melodies. The drums are the most effective, as they add to the pace in the game and pump the adrenaline needed to play faster. The word faster is one of the keywords in the game, as it's necessary to beat the fastest times in order to achieve the A-grade. The other interesting thing to note about these tracks is how they relate to the featured worlds. For example, "Betus Blues" maintains the cheerful spirit of the soundtrack with its rhythmic percussion and catchy melody. Yet it also stays true to the hospital environment of Chapter 2 with its eerily echoing strings.
There are also moodier themes to match the dark world music. "Rocket Rider" for The Salt Factory is filled with electronic beats and treble frills that somehow manage to match the cheery feel of the game, while adding a certain mischief and danger to the level. There are also interesting parallels between the themes used in each level. For example, the Chapter 4 light world theme "Hot Damned" captures the descent to hell with its death metal stylings and shredding bass lines. Yet "Devil n' Bass" takes the tempo and heaviness up more than a few notches. It sounds incredible in the game.
Likewise, the boss themes are definitely fast-paced fusions of styles. For example, "The Battle of Lil' Slugger" combines drums 'n' bass elements with a memorable melody to create a track that is exciting and heroic. They're also incredibly varied in style and melody, matching the image of the stages and bosses. "C.H.A.D.'s Lullaby" maintains suspense with its raw sounding electronics in order to add a psychological element to the boss encounter. In contrast, "Meat Golem" is a punk track that captures the aggression of the enemy with its pounding drums and striking riffs.
The most impressive tracks have to be some of the last chapter tracks such as "Larrie's Lament" and "Carmeaty Beauty". These ditch the retro flavour in favour of a full orchestra setting. "Carmeaty Beauty" is definitely the top track, as it features both heroic and suspenseful vocals mixed with even more powerful string melodies. It really adds an epic tone to the end of the game. That said, these are not the only orchestral tracks and there are a number of cutscene scores featured in the second disc. These tracks have a genuinely cinematic feel to them, thanks to their high quality samplers and pounding percussion parts, though are too short to be particularly interesting on a stand-alone level.
Among the other additions, there are retro versions of the various level themes featured at the end of the first disc. These can be heard in the portal warp zones, which are 8-bit levels usually consisting of a secret pickup. These themes are strict 8-bit takes on the game's central pieces and, thanks to the combination of excellent melodies and stunning synthesis, they are no less respectable than the originals. In fact, many retro gamers will favour these versions. There's also an original chiptune track called "Meat Spin" used in Teh Internets Levels and this one outclasses the rest in terms of sheer funkiness. There are also a whole bunch of bonus original and unused tracks.
This huge soundtrack also includes several remixes by veterans of the doujin scene. Mattias Häggström Gerdt brings out the funk in "Forest Funk" with a distorted slapped bass and compelling electronic frills. Another highlight is George Dziov's extended metal remix of the title theme, while C418's "Meatcraft" takes listeners through all sorts of soundscapes in an awesome, catchy way. There is also "Power of the Meat", a pop ballad remix of "Forest Funk" and "Betus Blue" by Josh Whelchel and Melinda Hershey. The lyrics are funny and relate to the game, telling the story of Meat Boy to a very catchy tune, while the two performers sound delightful together. Note that the remixes by A_Rival and Benjamin Briggs were created exclusively for this release.
It is definitely hard to sum up this soundtrack, as there is a lot of amazing content in it, ranging from high-octane electronic mixes to blockbuster orchestral tracks. The tracks definitely enhance the gameplay and character of the game, and even casual listeners are bound to love the music. Those who want to experience the full-length physical soundtrack should seriously consider the two disc set, whereas most others will get by with its cheaper but shorter digital counterpart.