Game Review: Super Meat Boy
Release: October 20th, 2010
Developer: Team Meat
Current Available Platforms: Xbox Live
Future Platforms: PC, Mac OS X, WiiWare, Linux, Steam
MSRP: 1200 MS Points (TBA other platforms)
ESRB Rating: T
Once and awhile a game comes along that does more than surprise you, it surpasses any and all expectations you could have ever hoped to have about not only the game itself, but videogames as a whole. As Galadriel once said to Frodo Baggins, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” I’m not sure how that quite fits into this, but I’m pretty sure it does. The game is Super Meat Boy, which may be already familiar to some who frequent the flash-based website Newgrounds, or to any who follow the independent games circuit. It was all the buzz at the IGF, PAX 10, and I could not stop hearing about this game from anyone who had gotten a chance to play it at festivals. I didn’t know how, or why the game could possibly be good, but I knew I had to find out for myself how a game that has you playing a cube of meat could be any good. Yes. A cube of meat.
Super Meat Boy takes an homage of Super Mario Bros., and turns it on its head. You play as Super Meat Boy (aka a kid without skin), on the hunt for the evil Dr. Fetus who kidnaps your girlfriend, Bandage Girl. Whether you find that intriguing or stupid should have no relevance to you as the story comes secondary to this action-platformer. The premise is very simple: Each level is designed around a starting point, and an ending point. From point A (you) to point B (Bandage Girl) you must traverse a level (which is usually made up of just a single screen), all the while avoiding deadly traps and obstacles. You’ll have to dodge (including many more oddities) big mouthed flying demon heads, buzz saws, and the most deadly to Meat Boy: salt. Using one of the biggest strengths to the game (its controls), you will navigate, slide, and wall jump your way to save Bandage Girl, who evidently always ends up being snatched away by Dr. Fetus at the end of every level. This is all made extremely easy thanks to the simple controls that borrow from the games of yore. There’s a jump button, and a run button. That’s pretty much it.
SMB is made up of several hub worlds that will have you traveling from the depths of ‘The Forest’ all the way to ‘Hell’ and beyond to save your damsel in distress. Most worlds have about 20 levels to them, which for the most part can be completed in any order until you reach the boss stage at the end. There’s 6 Chapters in total, with a bonus 7th Chapter which has you playing what I’ll call an alternate take on the story. For XBLA buyers, there is also yet another bonus Chapter called “Teh Internets” which will include many more future Chapters free of charge. Each level within every chapter can be completed anywhere from a few seconds to roughly 30 seconds. It may sound strange but it’s part of what makes Super Meat Boy so addicting. You will die hundreds of times. Thousands of times even, but you will always be back for more.
And that’s what is so perfect about this game, and why I love it. It’s pure gaming at its best. You will never die from a cheap game mechanic, or some camera quirk, rather it’s always a case of your skill as a gamer. The fact that when you’re in a level, there is absolutely no load time between playing, your death, and restarting, will have you playing forever until you complete the level. There is no delay from trying again and again, and since each level is only seconds long, with no real feeling of punishment for losing, you will spend hours, upon hours playing SMB every time you boot it up. It’s the ultimate case of ‘just one more level’ that I’ve experienced. Perhaps the real shining star of the game however, are the extremely precise controls. Meat Boy has a certain floaty feeling to him whenever he jumps, and with that you can aim where he lands exactly where you want, or sway him back and forth as you fall. There will be lots of jumping, but it will always be a joy to do so. The expert platforming you will endure and eventually master in this game is just absolutely amazing. You will feel better about yourself and actually see yourself improving like the first time you mastered a song in Guitar Hero.
This is one of those games that my fellow staff writers on Platform Nation may call me crazy for scoring a perfect 10, but until you play it, you cannot understand its brilliance. I’ve converted gamers of all kinds to the Meat Boy movement, and I encourage you to join the army as well. I honestly cannot think of anything bad to say about the game. There is a single boss near the end that displayed one or two ‘cheap’ tricks which are the only ones found in the entire game, but other than that this is gaming perfection. Though you may want to save some money for an extra controller as the game can be extremely difficult at times, but you’ll love every excruciating second of it. I could literally spend another few paragraphs talking about the many wonderful elements to this game, but the review format we use here doesn’t allow me to do such praise. Be warned though, it is hard. That may terms some people off – but it’s all part of the point, and the charm behind SMB.
My Final Say:
Since the game was essentially made by two people (Edmund McMillen and Johnathan McEntee), there’s the benefit of getting a truly great product with a lot of personal attention and care that went into it. There is so much value to be had in this download that I would recommend it to everyone. The gaming references that are scattered about are almost worth the price of admission alone. If you’ve played any recent indy games on the iPhone especially, you’ll find lots of cool hidden gems strewn about from unlockable characters to special stages. If there’s a word I could choose to describe Super Meat Boy (other than: perfect, brilliant, fun-tastic, masterpiece…) it would be: Charming. From the opening main menu, the art-style, the catchy and amazing soundtrack, to the Avatar awards you can unlock, it’s all pure charm. You will be in love with the game, the character, and the idea of Super Meat Boy. There’s a marketing jackpot to be had here. If I am to leave any lasting impression on you for this title, I hope it’s that of a special sort of excitement that comes from gaming that only comes once and awhile. This is a true gem, and while its an indy downloadable game, it may very well end up being my 2010 Game of the Year. Buy it now.
But first, check out this 90’s styled commercial for the game here.
+ Perfect controls
+ Perfect level design
+ Tons of value (both presently and future)
+ Incredibly addicting
+ Fast, fun, and simple
– High difficulty may turn some off, though it’s part of the charm of the game
Final Score: 10/10