Super Meat Boy review
You mean I can't just eat him?


Harder than meat that's been set in the sun for weeks.

Beginning life as a game on Newgrounds, Meat Boy enjoyed a decent amount of success, though it was criticised for having slippery controls. But either way, it was popular enough to entice the creators to try and make a full game out of it, available for download on Xbox Live and Steam (and Wiiware... oh wait, that version got canned.. whoops). Well, some time later, for under fifteen dollars, you can sign your life away to play a simple little platformer... that goes from manageable to STOP IT DADDY IT HURTS difficult. It will consume your soul, and the only way you're getting it back is by beating the game...

There isn't much in the way of a story... Meat Boy's girlfriend, Bandage Girl, gets kidnapped by Dr Fetus, and Meat Boy has to rescue her. Nice. Grade A story right there, folks! It's told in cutscenes that occur when you enter a world, and before and after the boss level, but as you should expect, it's nothing deep or meaningful; just simple old school storytelling of "for me to know and you to find out". There are references towards other video games, most notably Super Mario Brothers (if you're not sure, it's in the title and the concept of the minus levels), which gives the story a bit of flavor, but overall, it's nothing overly special.

If you got your feelings hurt by me not finding the story that special, wipe those tears away, because you should be playing it for the gameplay, and boy howdy, does this game get it right or what? It's quite simple, actually; the aim of each level is to go from your starting position, and over to where Bandage Girl is. You must, however, overcome many obstacles in order to get to the precious bandage covered booty. It's a very simple concept, but with time, this game becomes very addicting very quickly.

It probably doesn't help that there are a seemingly infinite amount of things to unlock in this game. There are extra characters, extra levels, and even a couple of secret worlds. You unlock them by either getting a certain amount of bandages, or by finding and completing certain warp zones. But do you feel as if you got all the bandages, but the bandage count for that world is under 20? You missed some in the warp zones and minus levels, then! But you have to find them in each of the main levels, and they can range from easy to deviously hard to just plain luck... like the bandages, actually. At first, they're not too hard to get; just keep at it and you'll succeed. But then they get really hard to obtain, especially as you progress, and especially in the dark world (I'll explain later), but you get some extra characters out of the deal... and all I'll be saying here is that with some experimentation, these guys can be even more useful than Meat Boy himself, even managing to get some bandages that he, himself, cannot get (a certain one in world 3, for instance... I don't know, either put in HEAPS of luck and skill to get it as Meat Boy, or just fly with one of the flying characters), though typically, Meat Boy is the one you end up using the most because most levels seem to tailor to his fast speed and wall jumping skills...

Oh, but still feeling like you didn't complete a world? Probably because you missed the other half of a world - the dark world. Obtained by completing levels under a certain amount of time, the dark world versions of each levels are a hell of a lot harder than their light world counterparts... which, alongside everything above, manages to keep replay value as high as possible as you'll be practising your butt off, getting it right.

Super Meat Boy is known as one of those really hard games - like I Wanna Be The Guy, though unlike most of those games, Super Meat Boy starts off pretty friendly. On the first six levels of the first world, you pretty much can't die, unless you have horrible reflexes. After that, the levels start to give you some sort of challenge, with buzzsaws sticking out, mini buzzsaws launching, and jumps start to get trickier and trickier. But it's still manageable after a few deaths. Then comes the second world, where the walls aren't 100% safe... what, would YOU want to touch the sharp end of used needles? Oh, and fans are included in the package, and with the powers of the laws of physics, you will be blown where the fan is pushing the air. Still manageable after a few tries, so it's never mindblowingly hard, but it can be hard at first. In fact, it's the fourth and fifth worlds that show off how hard the game really gets, with the last legs of world five bordering on hellish. If you get that far, all I can say is "good luck". I would explain, but I like to keep the second half of most good games a secret...

Just when you think it couldn't get any harder, there's the dark world. Yes, they decided to give you the same level to complete again... just a lot harder, that's all. What seems like the same level but with more hazards, ends up forcing you to change your strategy. While this was certainly a welcome for the first few worlds, it's almost torture for the fourth and fifth worlds - like, weren't they hard enough? Oh, and remember when I was talking about warp zones and minus levels? These only give you three lives, and if you lose them all, you have to start from the beginning - doesn't matter if you make it to the last section of these; die three times, and you go back. Minus levels, particularly, don't *bleep* around - get good or go home.

Despite my whiny attitude just then, it's hardly unfair. I mean sure, some parts here and there teeter on the line between fair and unfair (usually in the minus levels), but for the most part, your mistakes come from your own lack of skill. If you fail, it's because you failed to adapt, and failed to get it right. There's hardly any complex mathematical trick you have to come up with; just you, the jump and sprint buttons, and the obstacles that lay ahead of you. All that will keep you at bay are you skills and reflexes. Nothing more, and nothing less.

The graphics are neat, sporting a minimalistic look. Sure, Meat Boy looks detailed, or at least as detailed as a square piece of meat will look. Okay, it looks more like a Flash animation, which makes sense, as the original game was made in Flash. There is a bit of detail, but for the most part, Super Meat Boy is cartoony and colorful, plus it's minimalistic enough to at least keep you focused on playing, and not on the pretty graphics. The warp zones also manage to provide a pretty solid retro look, like from the original Game Boy in all its lime and black glory, to something you'd expect from the Turbografx 16 (a little more detailed than the NES, but far below the SNES). If nothing else, it elicits quite a lot of nostalgia from people who grew up with games that were made back when every game was 2D. One thing I must say, however, is that the animation during the cutscenes often feel... stiff. Sometimes, it feels like it's lost a few frames in the process of keeping an ample file size, resulting in sometimes stiff animation, and for a game with simple looking models and animations, it's just silly.

The soundtrack is just fantastic. Most of the songs are short, simple and repetitious, but they're also very, very catchy, upbeat, and actually pretty good overall. Most indie games (yes, this is an indie game if you didn't already know) don't really excel in music; most of those games have music that just sticks in the background and, while it sounds good in the game, doesn't stick with you, nor do they seem like good tracks outside of the game, but Super Meat Boy's soundtrack, on the other hand, manages to not only stick out quite a lot, but it's also fantastic to listen to both inside and outside of the game.

Super Meat Boy is a great platformer. It has tough but fair and balanced difficulty backed up by simple yet effective gameplay and a bloody awesome soundtrack. Even after completing the main game, there's always the hard mode to consider, plus all the collectibles and unlockable levels to gather up. Let's just say that it'll take quite a long time to get 100% in this game... and all for up to fifteen bucks. Wonderful. Go get it. Now.

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