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

Varied, challenging and hilarious, this is a superb plattformer.

At first glance, Super Meat Boy may seem like the kind of plattformer that will have you exercising in frustration. It throws just about every obstacle and hazard imaginable at you, from buzzsaws to heat-seeking projectiles and pits filled to the brim with spikes and so on. But even after stumbling again and again at the very same obstacle, you´ll have no one to blame but yourself. Super Meat Boy is a tough game but its one of those rare gems that wont have you throwing your controller in frustration as there are many brilliant design elements that work in tandem to ensure that Super Meat Boy will always keep you on your toes, but not so much that you are mentally fatigued over all your failures. This superb 2D-plattformer is among the best that there is, since it nails all the fundementals but also has a dose of charm and personality, thanks to a lot of light-hearted humor and fantastic homages to other, more classic games in the genre.

The controls are what really sells this game. They are so tight and responsive that after a few hours, you wont want to play any other plattformer, they are really that good. You can run and jump with ease and soon you´ll be able to walljump and pull off some ridiculous moves that you didnt think was possible. So when you die--often abruptly and through some hilarious manner--its usually because you miss-timed your jump or attempted some braindead move. Patience, determination and finess will meet you with success and levels that may seem near impossible at first will eventually make sense when you have died enough times and attempted the most logic solutions. Super Meat Boy´s challenge comes from the level design and not from fighting the controls and this is truly one of the reedeming factors of this game.

Speaking of levels, Super Meat Boy has hundreds of them, all of which are extremely well designed and challenging. The simple premise is that Meat boy is trying to free his love, Bandage girl, from the clutches of the evil doctor Fetus and you´ll breeze through these snippets using simple plattforming, or so you think. Super Meat Boy does a terrific job of introducing new dangers to the mix and there are plenty of boss battles that are really well thought out. From racing to collect keys, dealing with puzzles, to striving to reach the top as the level scrolls upwards, each level feels different from the last and the challenge always peak at challenge and never boil over into cheapness or frustration.

Super Meat Boy also has an outstanding retro-vibe. The soundtrack is incredible and fits each world and theme perfectly. The humor is great too and every world has its own intro that clearly reference other plattformers like Castlevania, Mega man and Ninja Gaiden. The visuals also feel very old-school but never simple and Meat boy is much of an amazing specimen and a beauty to behold when he moves and jumps with such smooth grace.

I should also point out the insane amount of content you are given. There are tons of levels, hidden worlds, warpzones and bonus stages, along with unlockable characters and dark-world counterparts to each level when you meet the par time for them. The characters you unlock --either by collecting bandages strewn about some of the levels or completing warpzones-- are from other indie games and possess their own abilities and jumping techniques. The downer with this though is that the characters rarely come into use in the actual main levels. Save for the warpzones, there are no character exclusive levels to unlock and i rarely felt like Meat boy wasnt capable of tackling the many challenges i was presented with. You can also save replays when you complete each level, but there is no way to share these amongst other players and the leaderboards have no functionality that allows you to watch how the most skilled plattforming fanatics beat each level.

All in all though, there is very little dissapointment to be had with this game. Super Meat Boy is the kind of game that knows its audience, and while the high level of difficulty may repel some players, plattforming extremists will love every moment of this hilarious and incredibly well-designed game that has enough content to warrant a sixty-dollar pricetag. So jump right in, just be sure you have some good finger dexterity. 




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