Super Meat Boy Review (XBLA)
Super Meat Boy was developed by Team Meat and published by Newgrounds. It will be released for XBLA on October 20, 2010. As a gift to its fans, Super Meat Boy will launch on sale for just 800 Microsoft Points, before increasing to its regular retail price of 1200 MSP.
Very rarely does a game come along that is so fun and so hard that you alternate laughing with hurling profanities… that you insist you’ll give it “just one more try” and yet play until your hands are a crippled, arthritic mess… that you realize as you’re playing it that you are experiencing one of the finest games of our generation… that you fall in love with a squishy blob. Such a game is Super Meat Boy.
You control the titular character: a red, squarish boy made of meat, whose sunshiney disposition has earned him the hatred of arch villain Dr. Fetus, a cruel, tuxedo-clad fetus in a jar that abducts Super Meat Boy’s adorable girlfriend, Bandage Girl. SMB is a 2D platformer like Mega Man on steroids: part of the game is figuring out how to avoid the plethora of pitfalls, while the rest is making your hands actually do what your brain figures out.
Super Meat Boy has it all: it’s clever, addictive, artfully designed, perfectly honed, thoughtfully crafted, and a joy to play. There’s humor, surprises, unlockables, collectibles, and mountains of content. SMB can be mind-numbingly difficult, but its charm and addictive gameplay will keep you coming back for more.
So here’s what we liked:
Retro-flavored deliciousness – Super Meat Boy is chock-full of treats to send you down memory lane. The 90’s-inspired trailer for the game is just a taste of the old school delights in store for you. The game is crammed full of a chiptuney soundtrack and visuals that combine modern cell-shading and 16-bit graphics. Before each world is a clever homage to some classic game from your childhood, re-done with slick animation and Super Meat Boy at the center of the action. And if the regular levels aren’t pixelated enough for you, a little fancy footwork will grant you access to warp zones, which toss you into special levels with throwback audio and graphics stolen from some busted old Atari 2600.
This Game is F*&!ing Hard – Are you always complaining that games just aren’t hard anymore? That “Hard” is the new “Normal” and boy, they just don’t make ’em like they used to? The gentlemen at Team Meat would like to kindly disagree. Super Meat Boy is hard. Very hard. So hard that you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. Okay, okay… you’re probably reading this review and thinking, “Yeah, but I’m really good at games.” Well, here’s your chance to prove it. Just getting through the game is a significant accomplishment. If you’re crazy enough to want a greater challenge, beat the par time on each level and you’ll unlock a “dark” version, which is more than just an artistic re-design: the dark version throws in extra sawblades, lasers, and baddies just to drive you insane. If you don’t increase your vocabulary of vulgarities over the course of playing Super Meat Boy, then you aren’t human.
Exquisite Level Design and Controls – There’s no blaming the controller or the game when your squishy meat hero meets his grisly demise. Super Meat Boy is artfully designed, with perfectly precise controls and elegantly designed levels. If something looks like it will kill you, it will kill you—no cheap tricks here. The controls are so responsive that the tiniest leap, dodge, and dash is exactly how you input it on the controller. If you miss a wall-jump by a fraction of an inch, it’s because you missed that wall-jump by a fraction of an inch.
Super Value Meal – Even for 1200 Microsoft Points, you get more than your money’s worth… For the launch sale of just 800 MSP, it’s downright highway robbery. There are over 300 levels, consisting of the normal levels, the dark versions of those levels, the boss levels, and retro warp zone levels. If you’re sadistic enough to finish all of that, don’t forget to collect all the bandages, which will earn you playable characters from some familiar indie games. Each character has its own advantage or special power, which might just help you get that elusive bandage or beat a particularly dumbfounding par time. Oh yeah… and more map packs will be released post-launch: all free, thanks to Team Meat’s clever work-around.
And here’s what we didn’t like:
This Game is F*&!ing Hard – Super Meat Boy isn’t for everyone. Especially people that suck at videogames. Even people with freakish talent and loads of patience are likely to die thousands of times over the course of beating all the light and dark worlds. If you like that sort of challenge, you’ll find the game to be incredibly rewarding. When you finally complete a level, the game simultaneously replays all of your attempts, including the dozens of ghastly blood-soaked failures and the single, glorious success. You’ll be giving yourself high fives, updating your Facebook status, and bragging about it at work the next day. If you like your games to be, well, beatable by mere mortals, then SMB will probably cost you some Microsoft Points, a new controller for your 360, and a couple visits to the doctor for blood pressure medication.
So. Stop playing whatever you’re playing and get the demo for Super Meat Boy. If it makes you suicidal, save your Microsoft Points for a fluffy avatar pet. If you think you have what it takes, consider yourself lucky and buy what is undoubtedly one of the finest platforming games ever created. This is not a game to be missed.
Score: Buy it (or try it)
Hey! If you’d like to win a free copy of Super Meat Boy, check out the XBLA Fans Caption Contest!