junior_ain's Super Meat Boy (Steam) (PC) review

Masochistic fun.

 This generation of games has been nice for indie game developers, the scene is becoming increasingly more democratic with digital distribution, that's a good thing for gamers since there are many talented developers around that never got the chance to go big. Meat Boy started off as a flash game, it quickly drew attention, it had its strong points, a real release was inevitable in this fitting scenario. Two years later the world was presented to Super Meat Boy, a full-length game that strives for high grounds and it's certainly one of the most interesting games around.

Purists will find much to love in Super Meat Boy, this is right-to-the-point old school platforming, and the focus is clearly veteran gamers who pay appreciation to the golden era of gaming, this game is hard, this game is beyond hard. It can be said to have two difficult setting, the Light World and the Dark World, the stages in each of them are set in the same spatial area, though the amount of traps in each differ completely; the Light World will presents you a good challenge, the Dark World will give you headaches. The Light World will laugh at your face at each bitter restart; the Dark World will spit on your face, punch you repeatedly then throw you on the ground and kick you in the nuts while still laughing at you face for the restarts. Warning, this game may cause you physical pain!

Of course, the steep difficulty would be a downside if it wasn't for the perfect setting the game hands you. It has extremely tight controls, responsive at all times, no loosiness, no excessive sliding; the ability to wall kick is calibrated perfectly and you'll feel in control, you can constantly use it one after the other, and believe me, you will. To tell you the truth, not everything is actually perfect, so the wall kicking comes at a price, when Meat Boy "hugs" a wall he instantly stays connected to it, the problem is, when you're not wall kicking and simply standing beside a wall waiting to move, it'll cause you problems, because you won't unattach yourself from the wall right away, so you may lose timing. That's bothersome but not a game breaker.

The stages are all very brief, some taking the player less than 10 seconds to complete, most of them won't take anyone more than one minute, when you get the hang of them, most will be manageable in 15-30 seconds or so. If you're starting to think a mere 10-second stage can't possibly be challenging think again, that's the whole point of being difficult, in most stages you'll do poorly at the first tries, until you go discovering the peculiarities of them and making strategies up, setting up your timing, and all around getting to know the stage you're playing. Later stages require extremely precise moves, and to reach that you'll die many, many times. Rest assured that no ancient gaming feature will stand in your way while attempting, there's no lives system, after all, home consoles are not arcades, and it's been like that for much too long already; the retry will start immediately after you die, you won't even have time to swear or yell out of frustration and the action will be back on, no pressing down until you reach the "try again" button to continue playing, the game won't bug you with that, it merely throws in some of the most evil stages in gaming history, but that is all in-game you have to worry about.

The graphics and sound department are well served, the graphics are polished, the music tracks will set the mood nicely, some even being quite addictive. The story doesn't take itself too seriously, and neither should it take, it's about a bad-guy known as Dr. Fetus (he's a fetus inside a glass compartment attached to a robotic suit) who one day raptures Meat Boy's girlfriend, Bandage Girl, now it's up to Meat Boy to rescue his beloved one. It's funny, it's full of goofiness, it's brief, it's awesome. You'll be able to watch intros and outros after each world, they'll squeeze out a laugh or two out of you, and then, back to action, the way a game like this should be, story kept to a minimum. There are many interesting gameplay elements along the way, many will be featured in its own world, like fans, projecting rolling floors, repelling force fields, etc.

Many features enhance the experience, like bosses at the end of each of the worlds (only light world which contains the main story), all having a distinct manner to act and requirements for defeat. The ability to watch and save replays of your attempts, even having the opportunity to watch your failed attempts playing along creating a real contingent of suicidal meat squares on screen. Statistics to see how much completion you've reached, or how many times you've died (probably a lot). New unlockable characters marking presence some characters from other indie and flash games (like characters from Gish, World of Goo, and VVVVVV), each character being unique in style and features. Bandage hunting and collecting, for completionists. Secret Warp Zones with stages designed in a old school way, some with their own requirements, like having to beat it using 3 lives (can't get more classic than that).

Super Meat Boy has a lot to offer, those brave enough willing to take on the challenge will find something to enjoy, I'm sure of that. You've been warned, it's a hard as hell game, so if that's not your thing, avoid it at all costs. It's certainly an indie game that stands out and showcases high-quality of design, presentation, controls and programing. Super Meat Boy breaks up with some old gaming traditions that seems to live on generation after generation to create a platforming experience to be remembered, it's like they say, old habits die hard. I can recommend this game to anyone really, it's high-quality gaming with hundreds of different levels, the only drawback would be the difficulty level, if you scare easy at repeatedly frustrated attempts, try some game else, if you're brave enough, apply now.

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