Super Meat Boy review
Way back when – you know, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth – video games were once a challenge and relied on the simplicity of puzzles that were frustrating yet ever-rewarding once the solution was found. Instead of regenerating health, installation of countless checkpoints and dumbed down obstacles, Super Meat Boy opts for a path of difficulty that will make newcomers cry as if they were a just a babe. Those without patience to wait for the payoff of each puzzle solved should see themselves out as Super Meat Boy is 2010’s most unforgiving game.
Let’s state the obvious: Players are going to die numerous times and will do so in a matter of seconds. Having died myself 20 some odd times in 25 or so seconds, Super Meat Boy employs a high degree of tough love. The one advantage of tough love is that after all the trials and tribulations, the end result is newfound respect for the hard work. Super Meat Boy dishes out tough love in spades, so players should expect frustration almost to the point of quitting and never coming back, but I recommend pushing forward to overcome the odds as it only gets better as time passes on.
Offering diversity in level design and an extraordinary amount of ways to die, Super Meat Boy is nonstop excitement. Sure, more often than not I was delivering an insane count of vulgarities after each death, but figuring out the timing and speed of each jump was gratifying each and every time. That’s not to say that all the levels are crazy hard; many levels can be beat upon a single try. In fact, a handful of the achievements require the task of staying alive such as 10 levels in succession without dying and completing an entire chapter a without single death. It’s safe to say that achievement hunters will have a rousing time earning their points in Super Meat Boy.
The storyline isn’t extravagant by any means – Meat Boy must journey through trap after trap to save his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from Dr. Fetus. At the start and end of each chapter, an animated cartoon will play to advance the story to the next chapter with plenty of humor to boot. Safe to say, the storyline does its job to keep the comedic entertainment light.
At Meat Boy’s disposal is the ability to jump, cling to walls, run faster and defy gravity by dropping to the ground quicker. He’ll have to use the abilities to his advantage as saw blades, lasers, missiles, floating enemies, rising salt or blood, and much more are out to take his life. The hazards come in waves and continue to get harder – although, there are a few occasions that levels are packed in the middle of each chapter that are much easier than the beginning. Outside of the oddities, the game never stops for one moment to allow the player to breathe, especially with the ability to earn “A+” ratings on each level to unlock the Dark World; an alteration to each level that implements black and white color schemes to ramp up the difficulty.
Even with the increased complexity of each level, the formula of Super Meat Boy is near-perfect. The physics, the controls, the design of each level – even if it does appear at times that they made a few levels harder after revisiting the game – and longevity pave way for a fantastic video game. Relying much more on timing and learning from past mistakes, it’s a rare title that never stops giving in the end.
On top of all the perks of investing time into Super Meat Boy, there are a dozen or so unlockable characters that change the very fabric of gameplay with Tim from Braid being able to rewind time and Commander Video from Bit.Trip fame receiving the ability to float for an extended amount of time. The only issue with the new characters is that unlocking them is a pain in the ass via collecting hard-to-reach bandages hidden through levels or jumping through warp zones, which are often timed and hard to enter. But once unlocked, the entertainment value rises even more.
It brings back fond memories of a genre that is going through a renaissance on the Xbox Live Arcade and indie scene with darlings such as Braid, ‘Splosion Man, A Boy and His Blob, Limbo, LittleBigPlanet and many others. With that said, Super Meat Boy is among the best in the genre in recent memory. Do yourself a favor and buy it; you can thank and curse me out later.