A game about a boy made of meat who’s on a quest to save his pink girlfriend from an evil fetus wearing a robot suit. It’s certainly an original cast of characters, but there’s a lot of familiarity with Super Meat Boy. I’m not talking about the flash game which it was derived from. It’s a platformer where frequent deaths and learning from your mistakes is as natural as breathing.
Nearly everything in Super Meat Boy can kill me — everything except for the walls and the floors. Obstacles like saw blades, laser turrets and rocket launchers were making life a living hell for Meat Boy. In fact, enemies were the least of my worries despite the fact that I couldn’t kill them. They were uncommon and were easily avoided unlike a bed of spikes. And finally, it only took one unfortunate hit to send me back to the beginning of the level.
If I were to stop here, Super Meat Boy would seem like one the most frustrating and masochistic games ever released. In reality, they made several smart decisions to minimize player frustration. First off, reloading levels took no time. No down time meant no time to wallow in disappointment and over think my next attempt. Next they incorporated a blood trail bookmarking where Meat Boy has been or died. And last, but certainly not least, I felt that I had complete control over Meat Boy. From the air, to the walls and on the ground, I felt like I could conquer any obstacle and complete any level with him.
And I nearly did.
As I’m writing this, the final level of the “Light World” remains unfinished. Like any good final “boss”, it’s a real kick in the nuts. But I firmly believe, I could best it. Even if it means I have to be at the top of my game for two or three minutes straight.
It’s important to note that vast majority of Super Meat Boy isn’t like this at all. Most of the levels can be completed in 30 seconds or less. So while it may have been difficult or tricky course, the game never required me to sustain a high level of platforming skill for very long. With such concise levels, I believe nearly anyone can muster enough skill (or luck) to succeed. In fact, (for the “Light World” anyway) I ran into more mental blocks than skill blocks. But as soon as I figured out the trick, it was usually cake.
Speaking of cake, the proverbial icing on this meat flavored cake was the soundtrack. It’s great. The tracks were catchy and upbeat with a hint of retro inspiration which reminded me of the great 2-D platformers of years past. In some respects, Super Meat Boy’s soundtrack even reminded me of Super Stardust HD’s. Both soundtracks were so good, the entirety of each could reside in my iPod Nano entirely intact. I can’t say that about every game and certainly not about most modern game soundtracks. Coincidentally, both are available via Bandcamp. I suggest everyone give the Super Meat Boy soundtrack a listen, especially Betus Blues (Ch 2 Light World).
So with a great soundtrack, top notch controls and the utmost consideration for a player’s mental well being, was there anything I didn’t like about Super Meat Boy? Well, I guess I didn’t find the boss fights to be very imaginative. And if I was really cynical, I could ding them for that final level I’m currently stuck on since it felt a bit out of character. But I’m really reaching for some cons here because those are nothing compared to the thrill of making a perfect series of hops and barely squeezing past two spinning saw blades. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to play — let alone enjoy — a game like this. Games like this are normally too stuck up and concerned over kicking the player’s ass, but not Super Meat Boy. It truly was (and still is) an enjoyable challenge. And once I’m done having fun and looking to hate myself, there’s always the “Dark World” which I could subject myself to.
For more information on Super Meat Boy, visit the official website.