This game is hard. Really hard. If you are one of the folks who thought challenging platform games such as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, N+, or ‘Splosion Man were a bit too tough, then Super Meat Boy probably isn’t for you. If you can’t stand the thought of replaying the same stage at least a hundred times just to collect a bandage, let alone beat the level, then Super Meat Boy probably isn’t for you. If you need a compelling story with deep levels of character development, then Super Meat Boy probably isn’t for you. So, just who is Super Meat Boy for? In a nutshell, you could say it’s for masochistic hardcore gamers who enjoy a ridiculous challenge with a bit of old-school flair.
Originally a Flash game over on Newgrounds, Super Meat Boy has always been known for being one of the more difficult games out there. And now with this transition to consoles, the guys over at Team Meat have upped the ante by providing us with better visuals, improved controls, and more difficult gameplay. Yes, you read that right, I said “more difficult”. As difficult as the original Meat Boy was, its new Super iteration is actually even more of a challenge. Yet, somehow, it manages to be more enjoyable than its predecessor, which is good news for old fans and newcomers alike.
Super Meat Boy brings back fond memories of the old platform games from my childhood, back in the days when all we needed were a princess, a villain, and a jump button. And that’s exactly what we get here. Meat Boy’s girlfriend, Bandage Girl, has been kidnapped by the evil Dr. Fetus. In order to rescue her, you must jump your way through dangerous hazard-filled levels where death is more of a promise than a possibility. We are also treated with special retro Warp Zones which have a bit of a 16-bit look and feel. Of course, in classic gaming fashion, reaching your adhesive nylon gal will cause Dr. Fetus to show up and once again whisk her away to another level. As much as I love a compelling story, this is really all the premise I need for such a frustratingly enjoyable game.
There are approximately 150 levels and each one has an unlockable Dark version, which means there are over 300 levels in all. Every level can be completed in about 10 seconds or less, which is 50 minutes or so, but I guarantee this will keep you busy a heck of a lot longer than that. I received a review copy of the copy a full week before its release and I still haven’t completed it yet. Granted, I haven’t played constantly because my 2-month-old son demands a lot of time, but even with the several hours I have invested, I barely feel like I have scratched the surface. But best of all, there are quite a few unlockable characters, most of which are the stars of similarly challenging games such as Alien Hominid, The Kid from I Wanna Be The Guy, and my personal favorite: Commander Video from the Bit.Trip series. Each character has special abilities to help you get through the game while also providing a fresh experience.
It’s hard to find any faults with this precision-based platformer, but someone as picky as myself is bound to find something, right? Surprisingly, there is actually very little to complain about. While the game is unforgivingly hard and the controls don’t always respond as they should, this is mostly a solid experience. I did, however, run into a rather annoying glitch that often prevented me from progressing. All too often while playing, the game will reset itself whenever I receive a notification on my Xbox 360. Upon receiving said notification, the game will prompt me to choose a storage device and once selected, it goes to the main menu, even if I am in the middle of a level. During a particular boss level, I had made about 50 attempts or so when I was finally about to reach the end; you can surely imagine how upset I was when the game reset as I approached the finish. Now, this isn’t a constant problem, nor is it something that appears everyone, but it is still something I experienced multiple times on what is the final build of the game. Also, for those who care, the leaderboards are currently useless because of how easy it is to glitch the timer into being stuck at 0.0 seconds, which is an impossible time to get without cheating.
As insanely frustrating as the glitches may be—due largely to the fact that the game itself is already insanely frustrating—I still walk away from Super Meat Boy feeling that it is well worth the trouble. After all, this has everything you could want if you are looking for a real challenge set at a reasonable curve. And it gets even better for Xbox 360 games because as you may or may not have heard, there are a couple of very nice XBLA exclusives. First, there’s the unlockable Teh Internets area that allows you to download future DLC add-ons completely free of charge. And on top of that, the game is also being offered at a discount ($10 instead of $15) for the entire first month! But remember, boys and girls, these offers are only available to those who purchase the game through XBLA. If that’s not enough to convince you to buy this, then…well, you’re probably just a wuss. In a nutshell, Super Meat Boy is a ridiculously hard platformer inspired by many great classics. It is a love/hate relationship which will have you throwing your controller out of frustration but also pining for more. The glitches aren’t game-breaking, but they are still horribly annoying and shouldn’t be part of the final product. This puts a slight damper on things, but hopefully a patch will be on its way sometime soon.
Super Meat Boy was developed and published by Team Meat. It was released for the Xbox 360′s Xbox Live Arcade on October 20, 2010 and is expected to release for PC/Mac and Nintendo’s WiiWare sometime in November.