Super Meat Boy: review

Super Meat Boy could easily have been a frustrating, infuriating ball of pain, but instead, it is a frustrating, infuriating ball of pain that is also insanely fun to play.

The game’s premise is simple enough: A classic platformer in which the eponymous Super Meat Boy must save his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the clutches of the evil Doctor Fetus. There are dozens of levels to play, each with an even more difficult “dark world” counterpart to unlock, and players compete for the best possible times on each level. Along the way players collect bandages for additional goodies and can unlock warp levels as well. All of these things speak to a platformer lineage to which Super Meat Boy pays homage very effectively.

Immediately upon starting Super Meat Boy, two things are apparent: the levels are incredibly difficult and they each must be completed in a very small time window (usually around five seconds or so). Most levels fit on a single screen and may be outfitted with spinning saw blades, spikes, or other deadly obstacles. The level design is often deceptively simple, even ingeniously so.

Super Meat Boy, Bandage Girl, and Dr. Fetus. Seriously. Those are their names. No, really...

The most impressive quality of Super Meat Boy is the balance it strikes between difficulty and replay value. The game is insanely difficult. Most often, a level can only be completed effectively by taking a very specific path. Further, achieving the highest ranking (noted by an A+) is only possible by navigating that path in the shortest time possible. Players may rack up more deaths in one level of Super Meat Boy than in any run-of-the-mill shooter. Attempts to retrieve the game’s many hidden bandages, scattered throughout the levels, will almost certainly increase the death count exponentially. And when attempting the dark or warp levels… Well, all but the most seasoned platformer veteran will surely abandon hope.

And yet Super Meat Boy is a joy to play. Most notably, the controls are more precise and reactive than almost any game on the Xbox 360 console to-date. How Team Meat managed to have this little block of bloody protein react so accurately to the Xbox 360 controller is a marvel. And so, when players die – and they will, often – it is painfully evident that it is their own fault.

But death in Super Meat Boy is only temporary. In fact, it is fleeting, if not entirely incidental. Upon death, Meat Boy spawns instantaneously at the level’s beginning, ready to go again. There are no load screens, there are no inquiries as to whether the player wishes to continue. It is as if Meat Boy knows his lot in life is to be turned into a pasty blood puddle by a flying saw blade, and he is happy to do so.

Meat Boy goes "splat." A lot. A WHOLE lot.

There is plenty more to do in Super Meat Boy than simply run and die and occasionally survive. Collectible bandages, unlockable characters, warp levels and dark levels all add an air of exploration and additional challenge to an already jam-packed game. For its sale price of $10, Super Meat Boy is one of the best value for money games on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Many have commented that perhaps Super Meat Boy is the entirely wrong game for those easily frustrated by difficult video games. But perhaps the opposite is true. If ever there has been a video game that legitimately challenges players and also encourages them to do their very best, it is Super Meat Boy.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Written by MarkP

I am a 32 year-old father of three--twin boys age 6 and a one-year-old baby girl. Gaming is a fundamental part of our family life. We game together. We talk about games together. We shop for games together. But we also each like different things. My preference is for shooters, action games, and RPGs. I have a degree in English. When I'm not playing games, I'm reading or writing.

Leave a Reply