Super Meat Boy – PC
Developer: Team Meat
Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release Date: November 30th, 2010
Nerd Rating: 9/10
Reviewed by: Uber_Nerd
I’d like to start by saying I played this game mostly with an Xbox 360 controller plugged into my pc. I tried using my keyboard, but the controller feels much better for a fast paced game like this. The developers even tell you that using a controller is the better option. “A gamepad isn’t required, but neither is bathing. Think about it” and “First person who says keyboard controls are better then a gamepad gets shot in the face!” Quotes like these appear as the game first loads up. Keep this in mind while reading this review. If you want to buy this game for PC and don’t have a gamepad know that I had a MUCH harder time playing with a keyboard. Consider using a controller, it will save some hair pulling.
Super Meat Boy is an indie 2d platforming game for the current generation of gamers. It is without a doubt one of the best games I’ve played in recent years. It is also one of the hardest. This game will punch you in the gut, spit in your face, chew you up, and then spit you back out. Yet this challenge won’t push you away. The difficulty is part of this games charm and is what will keep you coming back as you try to conquer all of the levels.
You play as Meat Boy, who is tasked with saving his girlfriend, the beautiful Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr. Fetus (a fetus floating in a jar wearing a top hat and a monocle). The game has a great charm and presents a unique spin on the ‘save the princess’ gameplay we are used to seeing in games like Super Mario Brothers. The story is mostly told through cutscenes at the beginning and end of each world through which you progress. While the storyline is not too important in a game like Super Meat Boy the cutscenes are a rewarding treat to see after you’ve beaten a world and get prepared for the next challenge, especially since most are references to 8-bit classics!
Super Meat Boy’s art style is creative and a joy to look at. The developers gave the game a great 8-bit feel that will immediately please any retro gamer. What’s better is they’ve put a dark and gritty spin to the game. Things like blood, needles, shadow demons, and fire are scattered throughout the levels. Animations are clean and make this game feel like a classic 8-bit platformer on steroids. Chucks of meat and blood splatter onto walls, and saw blades as you jump into them. Homing missiles will trail you with precision and explode on contact. There’s a level of polish that takes this game above being just some 8-bit platforming game. Level design is always consistent with the world you are playing on. Trees and squirrels lay in the background of The Forest world while fire and lava shoot from the ground in the Hell world. The game’s charm rubs off into every level and it is great to see.
The music in the game is complimentary to the gameplay experience. Always fast and always extreme. Fast paced heavy metal or techno beats play as you try to beat each level. It keeps you pumped and ready to take on each level. There are easy to use sliders in the options where you can turn the music down or off completely should you decide you’d rather bump your own beats while playing.
Onto the gameplay. This is what makes the game truly shine. Controls are simple on the Xbox 360 Controller with your left thumbstick controlling Meat Boy’s direction and the A button allowing him to jump. Jump’s are sensitive to how long you hold down the A button. Hold it all the way down to jump over that giant saw blade while only tapping it to hop between the needles above and below you. While in the air you can push Meat Boy into walls to have him slide down them or perform a second jump off of them. Speed can also be controlled with the right trigger allowing you to go into a sort of ‘turbo’ speed to leap across large gaps. Besides the turbo it is a simple run and jump platformer.
Level designs will test you in perfecting these controls. They are designed to break you. You must move Meat Boy with such precision that you will often ask out load, ‘Is this even possible?’ On one occasion I lowered myself to searching videos on youtube of people beating a level. I was SURE that there was no possible way to beat it. This is what makes the game fun. It is hard. VERY HARD. There is a genuine challenge to the game, and when you beat a level you feel as though you truly beat something difficult. After the first few levels your patience will be tried and tested as you die REPEATEDLY. Trust me, it will happen. Movements need to be near perfect in certain cases and timing must be impeccable to maneuver around traps and enemies. After you have beaten a level you are shown a replay of your winning run. What makes this special is the replay also includes ALL of the ghosts of your previous runs. So as the camera follows your winning performance it also shows every death you had during the process. This is a great feature and is fun to watch.
Enemies and levels ramp up in difficulty as the game progresses and soon enough you’ll be sweaty palmed and white knuckled as you dodge saw blades, missiles, shadow creatures, other meat boys, slimes, worms, salt, needles, fire, lava balls, and the list goes on. The difficulty can, at first, be more frustrating than anything. After some patience, and practice, beating a level becomes a greatly rewarding experience that you can feel proud of.
Levels can be beaten by simply getting Meat Boy to Bandage Girl, who is placed somewhere in the level, but to truly beat a level, you have to get an A+. Getting an A+ on a level requires you to beat it within a certain time. Doing this will slap an A+ icon on the level in the map. Super Meat Boy’s main level’s take place in the Light World, and once beaten with an A+, unlock the Dark World version of the level. This is usually an even harder version that will have you begging for mercy. On top of Dark World’s you can also unlock Warp Zones by jumping into black holes found on certain levels. These warp zones feature new graphics to take on the look of original Game Boy game’s or other retro games that have been released. These are refreshing, and will put a smile on your face once you encounter them. The game features over 300 levels that will push you to your limits to beat. It even features a true ending should you decide to torture yourself through 85 Dark World levels on top of beating the Light World bosses.
(An Example of a Warp Zone)
Along with beating levels there are also collectibles. Scattered throughout the game are bandages that you can find. These bandages, once collected, can be used to unlock new characters that sometimes feature new ways to play the game. The Headcrab can be unlocked and used to stick onto walls while Commander Video has a hover jump that can be used to jump longer distances (you’ll be familiar with this if you’ve played Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2). This is a great addition and adds lots of replay value as certain characters must be used to access certain bandages in levels. You also must beat the level to keep the bandages you find. Got a bandage in a level and die right at the end? Good luck trying to retrieve it again.
As an addition to the main levels created by the developers there is also a Super Meat World. This is an area for users to post their content that was created with the Super Meat Boy level editor. This is a great place to see what others can make with the tools, and I found it was fun to see just what people could create. Lots of the levels are equally as hard as the developers so don’t expect this area to be some relaxing get away.
All in all Super Meat Boy has so much to offer. The controls are smooth and easy to use, the game is beautiful, it’s extremely challenging, and most of all, it is undeniably fun. If you’ve been looking for a challenging game and love retro platformers you will feel right at home with Super Meat Boy. Don’t hesitate to give it a try.
My rating: 9/10
This game is among one of the best platformers I have ever played if not the best. You will not be sorry if you pick it up.
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