mystakin's Super Meat Boy (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Super Meat Boy hates you ( but it's awesome )

 For those who don't know, I'm a huge fan of indie games.  In the past 2 or 3 years, I've probably had more fun with indie developed PC and XBLA games than almost any $60 retail release you could name.  Following this trend, Super Meat Boy delivers one of the hardest, but most fulfilling experiences I've had on XBLA.

 The replay system is great to get a sense of how long a level took.
The difficulty of SMB's ( clever acronym, huh? ) main story levels feel almost perfect.  The ramp up in challenge is gradual enough that by the time you reach the later levels you're amazed you can pull of the precise jumps and timing they require.  The gratification of finishing a level is helped tremendously by the replays which show all your failed attempts on top of your final successful run.  There's a pretty big jump in difficulty near the end of the game that feels a bit jarring, but that's the only time where I felt I came to a stand-still at a level for longer than a few minutes.  With the main story levels, I always knew the deaths were my fault and what I needed to do to get past it.  That's not to say that the levels are easy, in fact many of the end levels are incredibly tough but not as tough as, say, the bonus levels.

I would play SMB on my old style GB if I could. 
The bonus stages are a totally different experience than the main levels.  SMB offers a huge variety of bonus stages ranging from warp zones( which typically have a retro theme of some sort to them ), Kill Screen levels, stages that unlock new characters, and more.  Typically, these bonus stages are where the game gets its reputation for being incredibly tough.  Let me get that one thing straight, these bonus levels HATE you and want you to die over and over again.  That said, there's still the huge feeling of accomplishment in these stages that the main story has, and while it may not be for everyone, they do offer value to the people who crave more after completing the storyline.

 I'm convinced this Warp Zone totals 25% of my overall deaths.
SMB may hate the gamer as much as any game could, but the gradual increase in challenge is so subtle at first it's easy to forget how difficult this game truly is.  If you want a typical game experience, the main story missions of SMB are a well tuned, finely crafted experience but very difficult in the end game.  For those willing to go the extra distance, the bonus stages offer a more painful, but gratifying experience.  Lastly, the inclusion of a great replay system, extra characters from a variety of other indie games and developers, and an entire world of free, incredibly challenging DLC levels makes SMB a steal at $15.  And until Nov. 21st, it's discounted to $10 so anyone who's a fan of indie games or tough games in general has to give Super Meat Boy a shot.    
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