Trouble Thinking

November 1, 2010

Super Meat Boy!

Filed under: Game Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Durandal @ 2:09 pm

Super Meat Boy is the best platformer that I have ever played. “Platformer”, in case you have never played a game besides Super Mario means, essentially “basically like Mario”. You hop, skip, and jump from point A to point B and everything gets harder and harder until it is just ridiculous. Super Meat Boy strips this game type down to the bare elements. You play a sentient chunk of meat, who tries to save a girl made of bandages from an evil doctor that is a fetus in a robot jar suit. Suffice to say, the story takes second place to the gameplay.

This is one of the easier levels.

The key to this game being extremely engaging is a combination of incredible difficulty and incredibly accurate control. I’ve died several thousand times in Super Meat Boy, and each one of those was my own fault. The control of the titular Meat Boy is so consistent and predictable that you almost never repeat a death. Instead, each death allows you to learn that oh you need to jump here and slide to there and then hop with the stick allll the way right…

You rarely, if ever, need to just bash your head into an annoying unfair set of challenges until you luck into a solution. Any level of the game will usually allow for a particularly observant or practiced player completing it sight unseen in a single go. Nor does it take a particularly long time to get good at, due to the tightness of the control of the main character. Jumping and movement are all in very predictable arcs, and momentum is conserved when you hit a wall, allowing you to slide up or down to adjust your jumping position. In addition, whenever Meat Boy steps on an area, he leaves behind a trail of blood, allowing you to see that oh you slid down halfway and then hit that buzz-saw so maybe sliding down two thirds of the way…

I cannot overstate how much the speed of your Meat Boy popping up at the beginning of a level when he dies helps drive the gameplay, either. In a game that involves dying this often, having it take less than a second to try again is what takes the game from frustrating to fun. Sure you won’t get it the first 5 or 10 or 100 times through, but because each try takes only a few seconds, and each level is maybe 30 seconds long at the most when you finally get all the way through, you rarely feel all that frustrated. There’s a palpable sensation of gaining mastery, as you perfect the first 5, then 10, then 20 seconds of the level over the course of your many re-tries. If there was even a few seconds between death and return, this sensation would likely have been lost completely as you were allowed to feel frustrated.

It’s also a stroke of brilliance to reward the player with, essentially, a record of their progress. The “replay” feature in Super Meat Boy starts up whenever you complete a level. Each Replay shows you a horde of Meat Boys at the start, every instance of you attempting to complete the level. As you watch, they get whittled down more and more by the various traps and pitfalls before you see the final, victorious Meat Boy dash for Bandage Girl. It’s a great way of saying “Yes, yes this was quite hard. But look how good you got!”

I recommend this game wholeheartedly to absolutely anyone who has ever enjoyed a thing. It is expansive (340+ levels and counting as they add free content), well constructed, fun, funny, exciting, rewarding, and simple good times. It will make you nostalgic for old times while simultaneously outdoing those old times in every single way. Right now it is available on WiiWare and X-Box Live Arcade, and it will be released on PC this month with some additional content.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Super Meat Boy is the best […]

    Pingback by Super Meat Boy | Trends Pics — March 5, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

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