Meat Boy vs. Mega Man


  Not made of meat  
Not made of meat  

 Expendable
 Expendable
I had a bad experience with Mega Man 9 (although I secretly liked the game). It was hard as hell. Totally unrelentingly sadistic. Brutally punishing in terms of lost time and progression for failure. And yet, here I am most of the way through Super Meat Boy -- which is most of that plus a kick in the head -- and I'm loving it. I was trying to figure out the difference, and I think I might have it. 
 
Part of the difference is expectation. I loved Mega Man 2 when it first came out and played through it a dozen times or more. It's a fun game with great music, excellent artwork, and creative level design that pushed the limitations of the NES. It also wasn't that hard, even on the difficult mode. I recently resurrected an old NES off of eBay to replay my Mega Man 2 cartridge and confirmed that fact. In the years since though, Mega Man has amped up the difficulty. Having missed Mega Mans 3 through 8, I was not ready for that. 
  
The other difference is the restart time. Super Meat Boy levels are very short, and when you die (and die and die and die) you restart the level in the blink of an eye. If that restart time was even a quarter second longer it would quickly become unplayable. By restarting almost immediately, it keeps you in the game and in the moment, and the thousands of deaths are almost tolerable. Each time you die you learn a little bit more about the level, and the sense of progression is stronger. With Mega Man 9, I would die say, just after the mid-boss, have run out of lives, and have to start the whole thing over. In Meat Boy, starting the whole thing over is far less punishing to the player, which is good, because you do it *constantly*. 
 
All in all, I'm liking Super Meat Boy more. It wears its sadism on its sleeve, and the shorter levels and near instant restart time make the frequent failure easier to swallow. If this first one is this hard, just imagine what Super Meat Boy 9 is going to be like. I think I need to lie down.
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