Remember the good ol’ days? The old fashioned arcade game that made you scream in frustration but you STILL loved it. well… prepare to return to that feeling with Super Meat Boy.
For those of you who don’t know what on earth Super Meat Boy is let me explain (and you may think I’m on hard drugs but I’m not). The game is a simple yet somehow gorgeous 2D indie platformer in which you play as a chunk o’ meat hunting for his beautiful bandage girl (a pink square) who is forever being stolen by (prepare for the best baddie you have ever heard of) a baby in a jar wearing a tuxedo… AKA Dr Foetus *Gasp*. The seemingly never ending chase takes you through a number of worlds, dimensions and head scratching boss fights all to save that small pink blob that you oh so desire.
The gameplay is for the most part brilliantly simple, yet occasionally frustratingly inconsistent. There are a number of worlds in which you will come across a myriad of levels (around 300 to be precise). However don’t expect to be able to set a difficulty or for the levels to become gradually harder, because from what I found that is simply not the case, you might find yourself on one level being stuck for hours only to fly through the next world altogether. This is a minor issue in my opinion as many tricks that are needed to pass through certain levels might not be obvious to some people and more to others, so in a sense its down to interpretation. There are boss fights at the end of every world which are all relatively unique. In a nutshell your going to find yourself flying through one level and then before you know it 20 minutes later, your hands and eyes are hurting and you are learning through the painstaking medium of trial and error. In all honesty (and risking sounding stupid) that is actually what makes the game fantastic as it really provides you with that sense of achievement.
The best feature in my opinion is the replay at the end of every successful level which I find myself watching more than playing. This is because it shows every single attempt and on a gimp level in which you have failed 1000 times (at least that how it feels) you get to see every single failed attempt in an amazing meaty blood bath montage. It’s so weirdly addictive to watch and is often quite hilarious to look back on if playing with a bunch of mates round.
The worlds and the game are somewhat sadistic and quite dark in theme and artwork. If you are anything like me, you will quite enjoy the darker setting and the audio of the meat boy (you) leaving a sludge of blood on everything he touches. In the 300 or so levels (and don’t forget custom PC levels) you will find your meaty self trying to avoid a world consisting of such obstacles as (again prepare for a fantastic list) razor blades, meat-seeking missiles, salt, blood mobs and the tricky dissolving platform (to name a few).
There are a large number of unlockable characters upon which you can decide to play as instead of Super Meat Boy, one popular one with me was the headcrab. Now if you were thinking that the extra characters just changed things cosmetically you’d be wrong, for example in the case of the head crab you are able to climb along ceilings and walls, equally with Commander Video (character from the game Bit.Trip.Runner.) you are able to glide which really makes a difference on those levels with a long jump but a small window to land in.
A large issue which has been shouted from the rooftops from a number of people online is that there is no ability to check online leaderboards or view the top players level replays. With platformers like SMB people are very keen to witness exactly how the best players achieved perfection and what tips and tricks they might have worked out. Unfortunately this is missing but for me it really doesn’t fall into the massive problem list… more the I’m getting a bit nit picky one.
I must say this game does a brilliant job of keeping you entertained, it can be quite difficult on a game this simple with so many levels to keep originality however the differing landscapes and ever changing levels along with amazing retro and dark world side modes add to the longevity of the game (they also cry out to those people who crave getting insane achievements). One massive point of praise on my part comes on the boss battles they are all (relatively) diverse and while for the first 20 minutes they are impossible there is no feeling of satisfaction like finally getting to bandage girl only for her to be nabbed and you led into a fun cutscene.
Overall this is just an indie game and for that reason its never going to be graphically amazing but this game takes me back to the platforming days that were my first experience
of gaming in the 90s. The controls are (in my opinion) better for an xbox controller however that is not a massive issue. I must say that I played this game so much that my hands began to hurt for days on end. This takes simplicity to a level of brilliance which is normally only achieved by big budget games. I love games (naturally) being a daylight-fearing gamer and a reviewer but any game that is able to fully capture the imagination of casual to hardcore gamer alike gets a massive thumbs up from me as it ultimately sucks that many more people into the gaming world who might not have found themselves there if they would have tried something more challenging.