It’s bad enough that Wiiware releases are more notable for the ridiculous press releases announcing games than the actual games in question. It’s way, way worse when a legitimately awesome game has its Wiiware release canceled.
Such is the case with Super Meat Boy, Team Meat’s critically acclaimed platformer/controller-snapping simulator, which was released last year on the Xbox 360 and PC. Originally announced as a Wiiware title back in 2009, Team Meat now reports that the final version of Super Meat Boy simply isn't feasible on Nintendo's downloadable game service and have decided to cancel the release.
According to Team Meat, as the size and scope of SMB increased during development, the game soon outstripped the Wii Shop's 40MB size restriction for downloadable games. As a result, Team Meat was forced to make a choice between canceling the downloadable release or launching an inferior version of the game... and opted to cancel.
"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," Edmund McMillen, the artist and designer at Team Meat, told Joystiq in an interview following the cancellation of the Wiiware release. According to the interview, squeezing SMB down under the 40MB limit would force Team Meat to cut the game’s online leaderboards, DLC support and the Dark World alternate levels, as well as reducing the game’s incredible musical score down to just six tracks.
"It's a lose-lose situation,” McMillen told Joystiq, “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."
Team Meat admits that, while they knew of the Wiiware size limitations going into development, they thought they would be able to convince Nintendo to let them release a larger, more comprehensive version of the game. Nintendo, however, refused Team Meat's requests.
"It's lame that there is a 40MB cap on WiiWare games,” McMillen said to Joystiq, “but it was our fault for blindly assuming this cap wasn't set in stone, and we are sorry for that."
However, while the Wiiware version of Super Meat Boy is no longer a possibility, Team Meat still hasn’t given up on getting their game on the Wii; the small company is currently reaching out to third-party publishers for a possible retail release of the game, circumventing the size limitations that kept SMB off of Wiiware.
Unfortunately, even with the critical acclaim that has accompanied Super Meat Boy’s release, publishers aren't necessarily lining up to release the title. McMillen told Joystiq that the publishers Team Meat have approached so far feel that a non-Nintendo retail Wii release is a "bad idea, profit-wise", citing the lack of major third-party successes on the platform. Though Team Meat continues to look for a SMB retail publisher, they admit that it's an uphill battle.
Considering the ways in which Super Meat Boy draws on the legacy of old NES and SNES games—with its focus on precision/timing gameplay, as well as the many homages to classic video games—it’s totally crazy that the Wiiware release of Super Meat Boy has been shuttered. Still, I'm glad to see a developer choose to avoid compromising the quality of their game for extra revenue. In the meantime, if you’re looking for downloadable games on the Wii Shop worth your time, you’ll just have to stick with Cave Story, the Bit. Trip games, and any title that lets you whack the banana off the screen.