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

Welcome to platformer hell

One of the biggest XBLA indie games of the year, Super Meat Boy is an exceptional example of difficult gameplay done perfect. It is easily a must-buy for the system.

What did you love about the game? :

- Perfect controls

- Fantastic, 8-bit soundtrack

- Funny nods to older game series

- Dozens of hours of content (300+ levels, with more coming all the time)

What did you hate about the game?

- Exceptionally hard

- Some saving glitches can nuke all your progress (these have since been patched)

Retro levels are appropriately hard and have rockin 8-bit music

Graphics – 9

Super Meat Boy keeps the graphics simple. The graphics would, in most situations, fit perfectly on the SNES or Nintendo DS, with a colorful palette of 16-bit graphics and fluid animations. While minimal, it works best for the game, as the gameplay requires minimal distractions aside from the obstacles in your path.

The game also makes several great nods to older games, via "Warp Zones." These can change the style to many types: old green/brown Game Boy, NES, Atari 2600, and more. The graphics in these sections look authentic to the period and add to the already exceptional charm of the game. Team Meat put TONS of detail into this game. Whenever you die, Meat Boy explodes in a bundle of blood over what killed you (saw, needles, etc.). The blood will, in fact, stay there until you at last beat the game as a reminder of your previous struggle (and inevitable failure). It's a great touch, and beating a level with your guts fully in Meat Boy rather than all over some saw-blades adds to the euphoria of the accomplishment.

Music - 9

The soundtrack is easily one of the highlights of an already exceptional game. Especially the hospital music (which I've linked above, every tune is quite catchy and has a combination of modern synth and old-school chiptune. Every song has a "Dark World" variant, as well as an "8-bit" variant based on the warp zone (and trust me, hearing these great songs as they might come out of the NES...completely classic).

All sound effects are great too, from the fact that Meat Boy has a squishy-sounding run, to that damned "goosh!" sound whenever your pulpy body gets mashed by saws. But the music is still, certainly, the star of the show here.

Good luck.

Gameplay – 10

Speaking of stars of the show, gameplay is where Super Meat Boy truly shines. In its most basic sense, Super Meat Boy is a platformer, akin more to games like N+ than Super Mario Brothers. You can move only left and right, with a button (either X or the Right Trigger) to sprint and A to jump. That, in a nutshell, is the controls. Sounds simple? You'd be right...until about the sixth level. There are many other factors. Meat Boy can cling to walls and wall-jump, giving him much needed "climbing" capabilities. He can change direction mid-air. He can also differentiate from "sprinting" and "not-sprinting" in mid-air (a trick that took me a while to discover, but very well changed the game when I did).

You are going to need to completely perfect these controls if you are to master the game's almost-impossible levels. I'll admit, the controls first felt a bit loose to me. Meat Boy, being made of meat, can slide a little further than you might think both on his jumps and wall-grabs. Wall-jumping can take a while to get used to it. However, after about thirty minutes in I had the game down, and that was about the time I started getting good at Super Meat Boy. If the controls weren't so perfect, this game would be an unfair mess of infuriating, impossible situations.

However, since you know you can beat every level, each tangle of saw-blades and precision-required jumps becomes a surmountable challenge. Every level can be beaten, and every level can be beaten using the default character (Meat Boy). Even if you die hundreds of times on a single level (and believe me, you will), you'll keep coming back because you know it is possible. Whenever you fail, it's your fault, and that only steels your resolve to go further.

The game also has a plethora of bonus characters. Some are unlocked through warp zones (such as Kid from I Wanna Be the Guy), while other are unlocked by collecting optional "Bandages" found in each level (such as Tim from Braid). Each character plays completely differently, but the game is still designed that every character can beat each and every level in the game. If that isn't game design dedication, I don't know what is.

Something to keep in mind however: despite my perfect gameplay score, this game is not for everybody. It is relentlessly difficult the further you progress, to the point where you'll probably be screaming cuss-words at your TV. However, if you keep practicing, you will get better, and there is no greater sense of accomplishment than at last smoking one of those impossible levels with par time. I'd still suggest you try the demo first. If you like what you see, don't hold back.

Commander Video can make some areas easier.

Lasting Appeal – 10

300+ Levels.

A good dozen characters to unlock.

Light AND Dark World Variants of almost every level. Lots of tough bosses.

Hidden Warp Zones and "Glitched Cartridge" Areas to Unlock.

More content sent free via "internet comedy attempt Internets," a distribution service that bypasses XBLA's usual "charge for DLC" standard (it already has 20 near-impossible levels already up!)

All this for only 800 MS Points ($10).

You'll keep coming back to this game for months until you beat it, months after to conquer the Dark World, and months past that to stomp all the DLC they release. Finding all the secrets, unlocking new characters, and proving your gamer awesomeness by finally passing that one level with the impossible jump you've been stuck on for hours makes this game one that will consume all your free time.

There is hardly a better game deal on all of XBLA. In a world where we pay $60 for 5-6 hour single player games, Super Meat Boy is a veritable steal at its budget price.

Final Comments

I am this close to calling Super Meat Boy my game of the year for 2010 (beating out Enslaved, but Rock Band 3 hasn't come out yet so the jury is still out [Editor's Update Note: I'm going to call Nier as my game of 2010, so there you go]). But what I will say is this: Super Meat Boy could be this generation's Super Mario Bros. Yes, I went there. With perfect controls, tons of content, a charming aesthetic and killer music, this really is the gem in XBLA's crown, and an achievement for the two (!!) developers who consist of Team Meat.

And it's only $10, so what are you waiting for? Hurry up and grab it!

Category Scorecard

Graphics 9

Sound 9

Gameplay 10

Lasting Appeal 10

If I gave a star score, it would be five out of five. If I could recommend a buying price, it would be $15 (full price on steam, I think)

Read more reviews like this at nathanvsvideogames.blogspot.com

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Other reviews for Super Meat Boy (Xbox 360 Games Store)

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