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.
119 Comments
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Posted by HydraHam

I was expecting a 3/5 TBH

Posted by scarace360

Now i just have to wait for 4 am then i can start playing it.

Posted by NickNorman
You will never finish every level this game has to offer.   
 
Is that a challenge, Brad? I'm game. You can't discourage me. I'm saying it, right now,an hour before the game comes out: I will get all the achievements in Super Meat Boy. It won't be this week, it probably won't be this month, and it might not even be this year. Geometry Wars took me three years for the full 200. I'm ready.
Posted by MaddProdigy

Quicklook=Sold
 
Review=Sold for Day 1 purchase. Fuck food, the paycheck goes to the games.

Posted by dantron

I might have to try out this game.  I kinda get into games that make me want to bang my head againist a wall.
Posted by AlisterCat

I'm glad to hear Brad enjoyed it, considering on the podcast he was less than enthusiastic about this coming out. Costume Quest review coming soon I hope. I might end up buying both of them.

Posted by AdH0c

This game look good but I have way too many anger management issues to play this game.

Edited by jonnyboy

I managed 'Splosion Man on Hardcore Mode, it damn well near killed me. Oh God, it's happening again!

Posted by Riddell

I had no interest in this game until I watched the "quick" look on a whim. Now I'm buying it day 1. Must keep calm. Must keep calm.

Posted by l3illyl3ob
@onimonkii said:
" 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 "
I think the official word is that it will natively support 360 controllers and I'm going to assume that it will support anything else.
Posted by SpawnMan

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?

Posted by FrenchFriedFool
Posted by None

I haven't been this excited about a Live Arcade game since Shadow Complex. This game looks too awesome!

Posted by ptys

God Brad loves his 5 Stars!

Posted by mnzy

I was expecting 4 stars, since 5 "officially" means that you can recommend it to everybody and I don't think that's the case here.
Well, whatevs, I bought points yesterday just for this...I'm waiting already :)

Posted by Kartana

Frustrating games? No thank you! I play games to relax, to be entertained!

Posted by killawogg

So can not wait to drop 10 bucks on this game.

Posted by Onigenko

Totally buying this when it's coming to PC.

Edited by Pink_o_mat
@NickNorman: Sir, you are crazy!
 
This game sounds like an abusive relationship. You're getting punished, but you always come back!
Posted by Sweep

As someone who likes pain, this is relevant to my interests. 

Moderator
Posted by s0ck

This game looks amazing,loved the quick look. 
Cannot wait to hate myself :)
Posted by Eaxis

I haven't been this exited for a game in a long long time! This is gonna be fun, challenging and rewarding!:D

Posted by drew327

Can't wait to see the speed runs of the harder levels

Edited by Stealthmaster86

After playing and completing the DEMO I mean what I say that it was awesome and HARD. In the demo you play 14 levels through different stages including 2 dark worlds. By the time I beaten the DEMO I died around 220 times. You know when a game is hard when it tracks your deaths. 
 
EDIT:  
 
After playing the Demo again the way to get the Dark world, As Brad pointed out in the Quick Look, is if you beat the level in a specific time frame.  I wish I had the money to get this.

Posted by Captain_Insano

fuck you Brad.
 
I bought this game on your recommendation and it is brutal! But enjoying it nonetheless

Posted by foggel

I'm not paying for this electronic torturing device

Posted by JellyFish_Gsus

I just bought this game and cant wait to rip my own hair out.

Posted by JackSukeru

Turns out it will come out for Wiiware as well, SOLD.

Posted by sleepykyle

DId anyone figure out what happened to Brad around 4 mins through the quick look...it was like the screen was printing everything backwards and negative...or something
 
this game is bonkers

Posted by Satum

 
Looks like my life is about get sucked from me by another Divinely infuriating game!

Posted by DualFayte

awesome

Posted by Sn1PeR
@mnzy: Yeah the said in the podcast to play the demo first for sure, as this is not for everyone.
Posted by MrPilkington

I HAVE GOT TO PLAY THIS GAME!!!
Posted by MjHealy

The great question still is... Costume Quest or this?

Posted by reflekshun

Great review Brad! Nicely written :)

Posted by Geralt

This or Kirby's Epic Yarn...what should I do?!?

Posted by None

Nice review, loving this game!

Posted by A_Dog

Bandages are total cunts. 

Posted by Legend

This game is fucking awesome! I just got 100% in the first world including finishing the secret level that you tried to beat in the Quick Look. I was not prepared for the craziness that awaited me at the end of that level but I managed to beat it after countless tries.

Posted by Smokay
@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 sir have you heard of Kirbys epic yarn?
Posted by Undeadpool

I'm really debating whether or not to buy this...the Quick Look was both incredibly encouraging and INCREDIBLY discouraging.

Posted by BBQBram

Just picked it up, it's kicking my ass but I'm loving it.

Posted by Akel

Yeah, this game looks awesome. The flash version is fun too and the music is candy to my ears.

Posted by golguin

I can't wait to get home in a few hours to pick this up. I was trying to stay up last night to download it, but I gave up at 2:30am since I had to wake up at 8:30am.

Posted by ImperiousRix

Had no idea what this game was.
Now I do.
Now I want it.

Posted by Crono

Glad to see N+ mentioned in the review since the 2 games are very similar in many ways.  First thing after getting home from classes today was to buy Super Meat Boy.  I cleared the first world with all A+ and have begun to work on finding bandages/warps I have missed and then on to the dark world.  The game's addictiveness works a lot like a James Patterson novel - short levels/chapters the whole way through string you along.  The unlockable characters are also a really nice touch for mixing up the gameplay.  Very fun game and highly recommended.

Posted by FokisMoney
@golguin said:
" I can't wait to get home in a few hours to pick this up. I was trying to stay up last night to download it, but I gave up at 2:30am since I had to wake up at 8:30am. "
Wow glad to know im not the only person who does this, i did the same thing with NXE last year so i could use netflix. Not sure when XBLA things officially go live though i gave up at 2:50am
Posted by McDunkin

Another day1 perch.  Damn you end of the year video game releases!!!

Posted by Taxi

After watching the quicklook and trying the demo I've decided to fork out for the game. As mentioned on the bombcast this really seems like the kind of game that builds CHARACTER. The old type of character, the one that you could send to war or safely let inherit your mansion or marry your daughter.

Posted by EvilJester1214

i have bought this game
i may hate myself for it later
but damnit i'm enjoying every second of it

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