Under The Radar is a weekly look at games that have ended up hidden through lack of coverage, but shouldn’t have. If you have a game that you think should be featured here, leave it in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.
A little while ago, Edmund McMillen (of Super Meat Boy fame) released a collection of Flash games called The Basement Collection. As there wasn’t a lot of fanfare, and reviewing what is essentially a limited retrospective seems the wrong way to talk about the collection, I decided to make it this week’s focus.
The Basement Collection is a group of nine games that McMillen has a had a hand in. The most recognizable one would be Meat Boy– the prequel/prototype for what would become Super Meat Boy. As the game doesn’t accept controller input automatically, being forced to use the arrows is a bit of a chore, but the seed of what the game will become is clearly there. The most obvious difference is in the level design. While brutal, they are brutal for the keyboard controls being used. I often thought to myself about how much more easier the game would be had I a gamepad.
Along the same lines of Meat Boy is a game called Spewer. It’s a difficult platformer as well, but instead of controlling an agile meat hunk, players are in control of a juvenile creature that regurgitates a green liquid. The creature uses the liquid to propel itself over long jumps, provide a soft landing, and act as buffer to dangerous obstacles. Considering the uniqueness of the liquid mechanic, It’s a wonder that this game didn’t get an equally full treatment as Super Meat Boy’s prototype did.
I think my favorite game included in the collection is Aether. It’s best described as an exploration game where players control a child riding a creature through space to other planets. Mechanically, players fight gravity using a grappling hook-like item to attach to clouds and then launch into space. There, arrows point the way to far away planets where the child has to help its inhabitants by messing with the environment in some way. This particular title hits all the points I love about video games: fun player movement, exploration of an unknown space, and excellent aesthetics. While it may not be ambitious, the relatively short game acts as a refresher for me, reminding me why I like games.
I won’t go into detail about every game, but I can say with confidence that each one has something unique about it that makes it worth trying out. McMillen’s artwork is fantastic as always, combining scatological and ribald with cute in a way that I rarely see. In addition, much of the music has been updated, which includes great tunes by Baronowsky (who composed Super Meat Boy’s soundtrack) and other talented composers.
You can pick up The Basement Collection on Steam for the low, low price of $3.99.