Super Meat Boy Ultra Edition: review

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  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Lace Mamba Global
  • Developer: Team Meat
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://supermeatboy.com/

Super Meat Boy is not suitable for children. Even if you ignore the fact that the protagonist is a wedge of meat that leaves blood absolutely everywhere, each bout of your failure induced swearing would be enough to make Gordon Ramsay sad inside. It started life as a challenging Flash game and then got promoted to a fully-fledged indie title for download. Now, Lace Mamba Global have put it in a box that can be purchased with paper money.

Boxed copies of formerly download only titles are usually reserved for those who don’t like squeezing their games down restrictive Internet pipes. They come at a slight price premium but usually allow you to install the game without the need to be online. However, the retail exclusive Super Meat Boy Ultra Edition does not come with this luxury and still needs to be validated by Steam. So what does this game gain from being in a box?

This is what you get in the box, displayed on a beautiful wooden plank effect backdrop.

Apart from allowing you to physically hold the game for the first time, the Ultra Edition comes with several neat extras, including a poster and a 40 page comic. The poster is double sided but could do with an ironing before it goes on your wall due to the multiple creases caused by the standard sized DVD box. It’s a nice enough poster, but we can’t help but feel its compact delivery system has spoiled it a bit. We appreciate that a roll would not fit in the same neat package, but it would preserve it better and not give it the distinct fold pattern of an Ordnance Survey map.

Making up for the slightly disappointing poster is the truly brilliant comic book. Held inside the case where you would expect to find the manual, the comic is a mish mash of sketches, story panels and background information on the game and characters. It is genuinely laugh out loud funny and a great addition that is definitely worthy of a physical existence. You need to see it for yourself to truly appreciate it, but a digital copy would not have done the material within the comic the justice it deserves.

Several nuggets of awesome are also nestled on the game’s disc and would be very easy to overlook if you just used it for the one time installation on Steam. There are development photos, character art, wallpapers, sound effects and the game’s soundtrack. It’s a treasure trove of game resources that you don’t get with lots of games. There’s even box nets that you can cut out and fix together to assemble your very own Meat Boy or Dr Fetus. That’s the exclusive Ultra Edition content covered, but how about the game itself?

Those sharp pointy discs spin. We don't recommend you touch them.

The basic idea of Super Meat Boy is to guide the meaty protagonist to his beloved Bandage Girl whilst avoiding a series of pointy, whirring and generally nasty hazards. Each level is relatively short and usually possible to solve in seconds with the right combination of sprints, jumps and wall jumps. It sounds deceptively simple, but this game is hard. You will meet a gooey and frustrating end frequently, often just millimetres from the end of a level, and suddenly arrive back at the beginning. Fortunately you have an infinite number of lives and you respawn instantly so you can have another – probably feeble – attempt straight away. This instant ‘try again’ mechanic works well and feeds the ‘one more try’ vibe that keeps you playing. The pursuit of victory gets very addictive and you will give yourself blisters trying to complete each hazard spewing level.

Super Meat Boy is like wooden chewing gum. Each mulch in your mouth will probably give you splinters, yet you will feel compelled to keep chewing until you get tired of the flavour. Every 20 levels or so results in a new world which instantly changes the flavour with new environments and hazards, meaning you won’t get bored of the same repeated elements. The climax of each world is a unique boss fight that is unlike anything from other games, such as a walking chainsaw chase or a race against a lump of poo that leaves a luscious brown trail in its wake.

Oh yeah, there are lasers too. Don't investigate those too closely either.

As brilliant as this all is, it’s not to say the game is without fault. The game does not let you bind your own keyboard controls and insists you use the default layout. It’s not impossible to work with, but the controls may not be laid out in a fashion that is most comfortable for you. The first screen you encounter does recommend the use of a controller for the optimum experience though, and we’d be inclined to agree with it. We were also baffled by the game’s Steam activation code being printed on the installation disc. The disc was already in our machine, initialising installation when we were prompted for the code. Needless to say though, these are miniscule issues compared to the tidal wave of greatness the rest of the game and the Ultra Edition extras bring.

The presentation of this entire game package is excellent, from the brilliant packaging and bonus material to the fantastic animations between worlds and boss fights. It’s all presented in a very cute way that highlights the sinister actions of an evil foetus that wears suit-like battle armour in his pursuit of harming a chunk of heroic meat.

Super Meat Boy is reaction based platforming at its very best. The challenging nature of each level means you feel a real buzz when you navigate hazards by mere pixels. It is obvious that Super Meat Boy was a labour of love for Team Meat. The Ultra Edition is definitely worth the £7 or so extra over the download only version. The extras will make you smile to the point of inspiring guilt next time you lean over the hob to cook a raw steak.

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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