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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Edited by Mysterion

This game looks great

Posted by DonChipotle

Still don't know if I should get this or Costume Quest. This is the toughest decision I've ever had to make.

Posted by SkullcrusherMountain

Yes.

Posted by brocool

Wasnt expecting this lol

Posted by Red

Day 1 purchase for me.

Posted by RYNO9881

Game looks awesome. Great review Brad.  

Posted by asian_pride

5 Stars!? You really are a masochist, Brad. :p
 
Kidding aside, great review, considering picking this up sometime. Looks neat and looks fun.

Posted by ThePhantomnaut

I WANNA BUY DIS!

Posted by JJWeatherman

W00t town bro! Population: you!

Posted by ZombiePie

This game has a great sense of enthusiasm to it. I'm definitely thinking about getting it.

Moderator
Posted by SeanFoster

I'll probably grab this if it pops up on Steam, the Quick Look completely sold me on the game.

Posted by PatVB

I am so excited to download this tomorrow! Especially at $10!

Edited by rahulricky

this game is way too crazy for me

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

I really want to play this now. Sounds amazing.
Posted by alexfase

Can't wait to be knee deep in rage!

Posted by Turbo_Toaster

2 days ago I knew jack about this game and now I want to play it more than Fallout.

Posted by BigChief
@seanfoster said:
" I'll probably grab this if it pops up on Steam, the Quick Look completely sold me on the game. "
I think I remember seeing it on Steam as being released sometime in November. And yeah, the game looks crazy awesome.
Posted by Ezlo

After watching the quick look I want this game very very badly.

Posted by shiro11

Would love to get this but I don't hate myself enough to buy it.

Posted by beard_of_zeus

My excitement increases!

Posted by Frelst

yay

Online
Posted by ComradeCrash
Great Review.  Now I can't decide between this and Costume Quest.
Posted by captain_clayman

BETTER THAN FALLOUT: CONFIRMED

Posted by Hampe

Since the game now sells for 10$ this game has value beyond many other things that has reached XBLA in a long time. Looking forward to some crazy ass Trial and Error. Probably going to be as angry at this game as I was with IWBTG.

Posted by Napalm

SUPERRRRRR MEAAAAATBOYY!

Posted by spankingaddict

NICE!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by tweetspot

crazy as hell 

Posted by Kyelb22

Man, I want this so badly.

Posted by Diamond

Key point to those still thinking about the game, it's tough but fair.  Fairness it the key world.  I still have yet to be frustrated by the game.

Posted by Romination

So this game is better than fallout herp derpaderp!?

Posted by Landon
@alexfase said:
" Can't wait to be knee deep in rage! "
Never thought I'd say this but, YEAH! ME TOO!
Posted by frsty13
@VelvetLore04 said:
" Still don't know if I should get this or Costume Quest. This is the toughest decision I've ever had to make. "
I'd stick to Costume Quest and play the free flash version of Meat Boy to hold you over until you can afford it.
Posted by WileyS

Man I wish my TV didn't lag so much.  This would be unplayable.

Posted by NickyDubz

Super Meat Boy....SMB.....Super Mario Bros. 
 
totally git it now....Facepalm.... 
 
gotta love references

Posted by l3illyl3ob
@Diamond said:
" Key point to those still thinking about the game, it's tough but fair.  Fairness it the key world.  I still have yet to be frustrated by the game. "
Then I guess you're a better man than Brad, judging by the Quick Look. :p
 
I get what you mean, though.  I Wanna Be The Guy has ridiculous scenarios where things will come off screen in a tenth of a second and kill you.  There is literally no way to predict what will and wont kill you in most of the screens until you die to them.  It's an extremely frustrating experience in how the game punishes you for simply playing it.  Super Meat Boy is different, it doesn't punish you for playing it, it punishes you for sucking at it.  
 
I'm definitely getting this game the moment it hits Steam for the inclusion of Spelunky alone.  I loved that game, though I can't imagine how that character plays in such a fast paced skill based platformer when Spelunky was a slow and methodical game.
Posted by fishmicmuffin
@Turbo_Toaster said:
" 2 days ago I knew jack about this game and now I want to play it more than Fallout. "
That about sums up my reaction to this game. I'm getting it tomorrow after the Giants game.
Posted by demontium

I heard this game was hard.

Posted by JoelTGM

Can't wait to buy it on Steam! 

Posted by YoThatLimp

As much as I hate games ,like this, I might buy it, just so games like this will be made in the future. After that hour long quicklook, I can appreciate the quality of this game. 

Posted by tourgen

I want to play this game but I'm worried about my controller.  The d-pad glitches sometimes and misses presses or does 2 quick down presses when I hit down once.  I think I'd have to get a new controller with it, but the new version isn't out yet and I was waiting on that. hrrrrr.  Maybe I'll get the PC version.

Posted by BrockSampson

This game looks amazing. But I will never play it. I will never be the guy who wants to be beaten up by his games. I just don't enjoy the experience.

Posted by Th3irdEye

Am I the only one that continuously reads  "bandage girl" as "bondage girl"??? Maybe I should lay off the internet for a while...

Posted by Diamond
@l3illyl3ob said:
@Diamond said:
" Key point to those still thinking about the game, it's tough but fair.  Fairness it the key world.  I still have yet to be frustrated by the game. "
Then I guess you're a better man than Brad, judging by the Quick Look. :p  I get what you mean, though.  I Wanna Be The Guy has ridiculous scenarios where things will come off screen in a tenth of a second and kill you.  There is literally no way to predict what will and wont kill you in most of the screens until you die to them.  It's an extremely frustrating experience in how the game punishes you for simply playing it.  Super Meat Boy is different, it doesn't punish you for playing it, it punishes you for sucking at it.    I'm definitely getting this game the moment it hits Steam for the inclusion of Spelunky alone.  I loved that game, though I can't imagine how that character plays in such a fast paced skill based platformer when Spelunky was a slow and methodical game.
I don't know if Brad was actually frustrated though.  Does it qualify as frustration if you have a big grin on your face?  I am ranked 4th on the leaderboards though (some guy keeps taking my #3 grrr!  I know I'll be 15642nd soon enough) 
 
Yea I haven't unlocked Spelunky yet, I'm looking forward to looking up user videos on how to find all the secrets I'm missing.
Posted by wefwefasdf

Downloading tomorrow morning! Can't wait!

Posted by Daveyo520

I want this so bad.

Posted by JJOR64

4 MORE HOURS TILL IT'S OUT!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by onimonkii

i know this review is for the 360 version but any idea if the pc version will support gamepads? i can't play games like this on a keyboard at all for some reason

Posted by SIL

Looks pretty cool.

Posted by InfamousBIG

This is coming out on the pc?  FFFFFFUUUUUU now I have to buy it.

Posted by Chubbaluphigous

I feel more hungry now than I did prior to reading.

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