Super Meat Boy
Posted 2 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
So, how masochistic are you? I mean seriously, how much pain do you like to have inflicted upon yourself? Are you one of those who enjoyed the brutal beating that the classic games of yore laid upon us in our youth? If so, then guys at Team Meat have just the game for you...
Ok, so I’m exaggerating a bit. Don’t get me wrong, Super Meat Boy does have its excruciating, controller-throwing moments. But they tend to fall into the “No Pain, No Gain” category rather than “Tighten The Noose And Jump”.
Essentially, SMB is a twitchy puzzle-platformer that spends a tremendous amount of time asking for exceptional wall jump/slide skills. You play as the titular hero, sliding around in his own blood through various levels in an effort to save his beloved Bandage Girl (who’s made of...um...band-aids) from the uber-evil Dr. Fetus (who’s in a jar and oddly enough, wearing a tuxedo). The levels range from a single screen to a full side or upward scrolling map and each has Bandage Girl waiting for us to guide SMB to rescue her. As in typical platformer fashion, SMB will always be just a tad too late as Dr. Fetus will swoop right in and take his beloved away every time he gets close to her (Your princess is in another castle!)
The mechanics are simple: walk, run and jump. However, the environment is not conducive to a safe and happy chunk of raw meat. The little guy will traverse lots of dangers including saw blades, spikes, enemies, salt and the empty nothingness of a bad fall off a ledge. Part of his navigation skills is a wall jump and a wall slide, which will be used at an almost constant pace in order for him work his way to the objective. In games like this, tight controls are mandatory and happily I can say that Team Meat nailed them perfectly. Of course, Death will still be visiting our hero many, many times. In the beginning, the difficulty is predictably low as SMB begins to hone his abilities. However, as the stages progress, the difficulty ramps up considerably, making patience, determination and practice the most valued commodity any prospective player can possess. Fortunately each level is pretty short, so it’s mostly a matter of memorizing the correct path and timing SMBs movements.
Staying consistent with the old school gameplay, SMB carries a 1980’s audio and visual flair that should usher in a boatload of quarter-munching nostalgia. The levels have an 8-bit quality with an HD coat of polish and the themes cover just about every environment such as day/night time, earthen cliff faces, mechanical factories and even a Limbo-esq black and white silhouette.
Of course, Super Meat Boy couldn’t pay proper homage to the NES era without unlockables, so expect plenty. On the outside, it looks like there are only about 100 stages to venture through, divided into five chapters, including boss battles after every 20. However, the clock is ticking in each one, tasking the player to complete them as quickly as possible. Beating the PAR time will earn an A+ ranking and an inverse level will be unlocked. These ‘Dark World’ levels are quite a bit harder and some can’t even be accessed without using one of the many unlockable characters found within the game (and drawn from other indie titles such as Commander Video from the BitTrip franchise.) These new friends can be accessed by collecting the band-aids scattered about the regular levels or completing special ‘Warp Levels’. The Warp Levels will really drive the nostalgia home as they are all presented in a true 8-bit style, even limiting the player to only 3 lives. In all, there are easily over 300 stages to complete.
At the end of the day, Super Meat boy does a fabulous job at what it’s intended to do: pay homage to the classic NES platformers. The level design is brutally brilliant and do a great job of throwing new obstacles at the player. The story is standard rescue fare and even though the cutscenes are a joy, they won’t change the fact that the centerpiece is the classic gameplay. Folks who don’t like retro platforming or don’t have the patience to replay a level 20 or 30 times until finding the correct timing to complete it should look elsewhere. But for everyone else, Super Meat Boy is a great throwback to the way it used to be before 3D graphics, sniper rifles and open-world sandboxes staged their coup.
+ Controls are spot on
+ Tons of content
+ Unlockable characters from other indie games
- Difficulty will test everyone’s patience
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Release Date : 2010/10/20
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Developer : Team Meat
Category : Adventure
ESRB : T
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