2011's SMB contender?
I played Super Meat Boy (S.M.B.) alot last year. It was alot of fun. It was definitely difficult in places, but for the most part, the excellent controls meant that wasn't a detriment to the game, rather enticing you on to complete just one more stage (a common value of the very best platform games).
Anyway, this is a review of Aban Hawkins & the 1000 Spikes (A.H.). However it's not unfair to compare it to that benchmark platform game of last year. A.H. is not better than S.M.B., but it is certainly as good as that title in several ways. First off the controls. There is no run button, there is no stopwatch. The only thing that encourages you to speed through levels is getting back to that point where you last died (which is a similarity with S.M.B.). In place of running though, Aban is given two jump types, small and large, which both adds intricacy to the platforming and proves invaluable in negotiating the tricks and traps of the various maps.
This ties into the personality of the game. The design and feel is excellent for an indie game, up there with the very best. I can't help but like the map overview a la Ghouls 'n' Ghosts. The stages are concise and have an impeccable balance in distancing the pressure zones with the safety areas (ie within most levels you will be able feel the crescendo of difficulty in collecting the exit key and escaping).
In fairness the game is not huge (you can find entire playthroughs of the game on Youtube), but much like the games A. H. pays homage to, and betters, the lifespan of this title lies in beating each stage. The personality of A.H. extends to include the music of the game, the only shortcoming really being the lack of extra scores available.
Yet the complaint about the lack of additional music tracks proves to be a great wake slap. You realise you're finding a minor fault in a game which costs 80 msp. 80. I had considered a review which simply focused on the price, but I will try and limit that side of things. Suffice to say, there are numerous xbla/psn/wiiware games that A.H. vastly outshines, and they are priced at ten or fifteen times the price of A.H.
I am happy to have had the chance to play this great little game, my only resentment being that it will never receive the kind of publicity some mediocre xbla titles will unavoidably garner.