Developers Team Meat hand over control of our indie hero, “Super Meat Boy”, with eyes, ears and legs to give us a piece of cubed meat on a mission to save his damsel in-distress, “Bandage Girl”. An evil baby smartly dressed in a jar, appropriately named “Dr Fetus”, stars as his nemesis and captor of his damsel in distress (Sounds weird? Well I haven’t seen anyone question a certain super-fast blue hedgehog?). Armed with the speed to match Usain Bolt, you must run, jump, slide, rinse, and repeat multiple times through this timing based plat-former in an effort to save the love of our hero. Heard of this before? With the formula that seemingly every retro plat-former brings, Super Meat Boy adds some chaos amongst normality that we’re used to seeing in these types of games.
Firstly, I’ll begin with the graphics. Set in a 2D world the flat background compliments how it is meant to be played: in a typical retro platform fashion. There are multiple worlds to go through and with each environment there is its own style with various ways to bring about a fatality. With several worlds and multiple surroundings available, it comes with an array of different fatalities and formidable layouts for you to traverse, and subsequently annoy you with. The graphics are easy on the eye and they probably help nullify the anger that you shall no doubt feel whilst playing this game. That being said, the graphics are not what this game is about, that lies with the game play.
The game play consists of pure twitch thumb stick action. There is no other game where you shall hear the thumb stick hit the boundary more times; it is quite a fierce game on your nerves, emotions and the controller’s rubber. With the pace of the game, you may expect a slow response from the controller, but it’s actually quite amicable. The aim is to reach your goal at the end of each level, in the form of Bandage Girl, using your repository of skills: running, jumping and sliding down walls all whilst avoiding all things that could rip you apart, which are typically most things. With the inclusion of over 300 levels across both easy and hard worlds through the ‘light’ and ‘dark’ respectively, there is plenty to be occupied with.
Finish times make this game competitive; there is an award for speed, with a set goal time visible to beat for an ‘A+’ grade, as well as bandages to collect from challenging positions for you to try and obtain in certain areas in addition to completing the level. These bandages are used to unlock other characters from both: different games, and from the Super Meat Boy game, for example, you can control Alien Hominid and Bandage Girl with enough bandages collected. Each character has a unique ability and characteristics; Alien Hominid can fire his gun downwards to give you a propelled jump. This game has a perfect mix for those looking for a challenge and casual gamers. It also has boss battles, adding for extra difficulty which at times, can be quite challenging. I got stuck on one particular boss for a very long time; in fact I believe I rage quit it. A quite humorous inclusion (besides the cut-scenes), is the death montage visible once you complete a level. Each death is recorded and then played back to you once you complete the level. It’s a fairly mocking way of showing you your accomplishment, but it’s still a nice touch.
The games sound track blends fast paced, heavy, 8-bit like sounds in a concoction of Sonic and Metallica with both elements pulsing out to emphasize the game’s story and appearance. I’m a huge fan of what a game offers musically, with my favourites being the classics of Zelda and Super Mario (obviously) and this one may be up there now. “Super Meat Boy” gives something different to your listening pleasure. You can play the game and listen to the game consciously without being engulfed in the story which a lot of games miss out on. Unless there is a distinct part of the game where you can fully focus on the music, then most players miss the music in other games. With Super Meat Boy’s simplistic game play, you can both enjoy the game and listen to what it has to offer without losing out on anything. A link to the soundtrack can be found here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiki4UQEayw
What you find in this game is a gigantic mix of hatred and love. You can’t but help but fall in love with the game play the soundtrack and the characters plight and desperation to find his love and defeat the antagonist; but you grow to hate the amount of times you try to repeat a level doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. It’s not the games fault; there are no glitches to blame and every time it is your fault as nothing changes upon restart, making it even more annoying. The split second difference between success and failure is emphasized marvellously in this game and can truly test patience and control.
For me, I’m extremely glad I purchased this little indie game, despite how long it took me to finally decide that I should. For those who love Super Mario Bros, then you can relate both through the title and through certain elements of the game play and will most definitely not be disappointed but this is definitely taking the plat forming genre to a new level. I would highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a challenge as it’s one of the hardest games out there but it is also simple and fun for those not willing to pull out their hair. Any game with a leader board pushes players to go faster than their friends and this will continue to do so. It may not be on the level of participation and aggression in beating your friends as games such as the Trials franchise, but it will definitely leave you sneakily trying to top your friend’s speed score without them knowing.
Overall I would give it an 7/10, but this doesn’t reflect the need to purchase it, which is a definite 10 rating! At only a cheap price of 1200 points on the Xbox Live Arcade I can’t believe it took me so long to invest in this adrenaline pumping plat-former. This game is also available on PC, Mac, and Linux.