Giant Bomb Review

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Super Meat Boy Review

5
  • XBGS

Super Meat Boy hates you, but don't let that stop you from loving every minute of this hilarious, over-the-top platformer from Hell.


 Seriously, you have no idea.
I hate Super Meat Boy. No, seriously--I'm not trying to be all cute here and feign outrage at how hard it is. I hate this game. Sometimes. But I guess I also love it (not easy to admit). It's the times when those two feelings collide in a Venn diagram of pain that you're tapping straight into the bloody beating heart of this brutally hard, ultra-fast-paced throwback of a platformer. It's one of the toughest games I've ever played, but just try to stop yourself from getting swept up in how ridiculous and extreme it all is.

Super Meat Boy is some two or three hundred levels of total run-and-jump mayhem, a member of the "masocore" genre that includes such indie luminaries as N+ and I Wanna Be the Guy. If you've suffered through one of those games you know exactly how this game plays as well. If not, it's a platformer where your character is just a few pixels tall (and is in this case an animated hunk of meat), and you have an incredible degree of control over how you move that character around. You can run extremely fast, stop on a dime, reverse direction on your jumps in mid-air, skid up and down walls, and more, and this much control lets you pull off all kinds of insane-looking moves. You'll need those moves, because the levels are... unpleasant.

Those levels only last anywhere from three to, say, 30 seconds. Or at least, they would only take that long if they were played perfectly by a robot. As a fallible human being you're likely to spend anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours trying to work your way through some of the utterly absurd, you-have-to-be-kidding level designs that populate SMB's later worlds. You will want to break a controller, repeatedly, but the feeling of accomplishment after every level is equally intense. And the way the game flows is one of its greatest strengths. You respawn instantly when you die, so there's no punishment for death other than making you try again, and the absolutely fantastic music in each world never stops when you change levels, giving the progression from level to level a great sense of momentum.

 You can't reason with a talking turd. Don't even try!
Super Meat Boy has such a reverence for both modern independent game development and the halcyon era of 8- and 16-bit classics. From the former, the developers called in favors from a bunch of their indie friends and included a huge number of playable characters like Commander Video (Bit.Trip), Tim (Braid), the Alien Hominid, and the kid from I Wanna Be The Guy. There must be close to 20 playable characters in here, and they all have their own special powers that let them do things like stick to walls, float in mid-air, double jump, or rewind time (guess who does that one). I only got a handful of those guys, though, because the requirements to get them are even more ludicrous than the rigors of the main game. But I'll circle back around and unlock them soon.

I totally will! Seriously! Just give me a few more tries.

Anyway, the nostalgia is as thick as the indie cred here, with really specific references to games like Mega Man II, the first Castlevania, and Ninja Gaiden (the NES one, not the arcade one). That stuff comes out of left field, but you have to appreciate it if you have any fond memories of playing video games in the late '80s. The nostalgic bits are woven into the game's own bizarre, sadistic sense of humor that has Meat Boy chasing the evil Dr. Fetus--a fetus inside a robot suit wearing a tailored suit--to recover his girlfriend Bandage Girl. The original cutscenes are riotous too. There's talking poop. There's nuclear war. There's a lot of blood. It's a weird, weird game.

 You will never finish every level this game has to offer.
It's also a surprisingly long game. You've got a hundred-some-odd regular levels, and finishing each of those levels under a par time will unlock a "dark world" version of the level that is, somehow, even harder. You can collect bandages to unlock more characters, but most of those might as well be impossible to get. At 20 bandages, you unlock "Teh Internets," a portal through which the game's developer will be pushing out free DLC levels on a regular basis. In fact, they've already posted an entire set of 20 new levels before the game is even out. All this is to say nothing of the numerous, insanely hard warp zones and kill screens hidden all over the game. Every time I thought I had seen everything this game has to offer, it genuinely surprised me with some other crazy new type of level or challenge. On top of all that, the developer has lowered the first-month asking price to $10, which makes this seem like a pretty ridiculous value.

Super Meat Boy knows exactly what it wants to do, which is to baffle, entertain, and frustrate you, to fill you with joy and rage in equal measure. And by God it does all those things without apology. This game is most certainly not for everyone--if you can't handle extremely hard games, you're better off marveling at this spectacle from a distance--but those who can stomach the difficult and appreciate the bizarre will take every ounce of punishment Super Meat Boy dishes out and beg for more. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
119 Comments
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Posted by SleepyDoughnut

I started a goal to A+ and get every bandage on stage one and after an hour and a half I was afraid I was slowly starting to lose my mind.

Posted by racastro

So many games! So little time ! (or money)

Posted by The_Hiro_Abides

I love this game! Occasionally I have to laugh at the absurdly hard level design.  I feel so awesome when everything comes together with ninja moves ending another enduring level.  I'm looking forward to busting through more levels later.

Posted by Nettacki
@SpawnMan said:
" Woah, I didn't know about this game, but now kinda want it. Although I don't think I'd get it unless there was nothing else to buy, because Trials HD raged the hell outta me and I shaved about 2 years off my life trying to even pass the 2nd level on Mario Bros, so maybe a rage-enducing game isn't the best choice for me.  Is there a calmness game where your objective is to float in a level made of marshmellows and pillows? "
well there's Flower for PS3, where your objective is to fly by with the wind collecting flower petals in a soothingly beautiful environment
Posted by bybeach

What really pleases me is the temporary 10 dollar price. that was nice. And I am at home with the art style and humor. But I can't.....
Posted by Iireku

Good review.  My masochistic side smiles as I curse the slippery meat boys failed attempts, while my inner child slowly dies of frustration and heartbreak.

Posted by xavfin

Got this yesterday. EXCELLENT FUN!
 
The difficulty level is high but not unfair. As it always should be, more developers should take notice.

Posted by bushpusherr

This game is killing my thumbs!

Posted by turd_ferguson
Edited by Lord_Ozma

Picked it up after watching the Quick Look. Absolutely love the controls and music, totally worth $15 and an absolute STEAL at $10. If you played games on an 8 or 16-bit console at any point in your life and enjoyed it (or simply relish a brutal yet rewarding challenge) you need this game. 
 
Some levels will destroy you with their difficulty but when you finally nail it down and pull off a successful run, watching all of the previous Meat Boy clones splattering to their doom, you will feel like a GOD DAMN NINJA!

Posted by Aceofspies

Meat boy is a pure platform game with lots of charm. While the start is good to get used to the controls it quickly ramps up to something that can challenge you for days. I loved the challenge to get A+ on all the levels and i loved the experience. I would recommend this to my friends and you. Get out there and try then buy this wonderful game.

Posted by Zoidberg

I really really really really really wish this would come to psn. It's the kind of game that I love, even if I'm absolutely terrible at it.

Posted by eagles_band

Don't see how you can hate a game sometimes and give it a 5/5. 

Posted by TheCheese33
@eagles_band said:
" Don't see how you can hate a game sometimes and give it a 5/5.  "
He doesn't hate it because it's a bad game. He hates it because it exposes the flaws in him. One of the big things about Super Meat Boy is that when you die in the game, it isn't ever the game's fault; it's your own fault for being bad at it.
Posted by murgatroid99

I got this game after reading this review and I really like it (even though sometimes I also hate it).

Posted by m2cks

" You will never finish every level this game has to offer." Challenge accepted, Brad. 

Posted by immortalmishima69

This game embodies every bit of the "OK one more time" addiction, with some completionist flavor added to it. I can't stop playing it no matter how frustrated I get. Certainly worth every penny to the point that I feel like the price sold it short.

Posted by Dilenger93

This game is fucking great!

Posted by Grimskallinj

The perfect balance between something simple yet still having depth that keeps you coming back without growing tired. 
You can be hardcore or you can be a casual gamer and enjoy this game easy. This is living proof that 2D games are far from dead.