Super Meat Boy review
Nostalgia overload


Super Meat Boy is yet another retro throwback - oh joy, here we go again, another throwback to the 80s and 90s instead of just progressing forward. But this one's different. Instead of just being a remake of some old game or a spin on some old school genre, it's like a folder full of nostalgia for those who followed video gaming back in the 8-bit and 16-bit days. Although gamers who hadn't played older games back in their youth would find the references either confusing or just intrusive, the overall package is just damn good.

Story: Like any old school game, the story is unimportant. Basically, Meat Boy has to rescue Bandage Girl from Dr Fetus. Yep. Grade A storytelling there, guys. But in all seriousness, it didn't really need a fantastic story... for *bleep*s sake, it's trying to be like an old school game! Speaking of old school game, there are many references to games such as Street Fighter 2, Castlevania, and of course, Super Mario Brothers, just to name a few. But in hindsight, the story itself is as old school as it gets, and I guess that's all that counts.

Gameplay: The game is one of those twitch reflex requiring platformers where you have to make absolutely sure you react at the exact moments. But playing through the first batch of levels wouldn't lead you to believe that. Yes, unlike games such as I Wanna Be The Guy, this game actually allows you to get the hang of the game before throwing you into the deep end.

But oh boy, once you're in the deep end, you better be able to swim, or you might as well quit. More hazards come your way, keys to collect, and... well, that's really it. Nothing overly complex, other than perhaps the way you should go about these levels. Really, what gives the game its four wheels are the collectibles and the harsh difficulty. Yes, the critics are correct in saying that this is *bleep*ing hard, and it will *bleep* you, and your mother too. The will to complete a level despite adversity is what Team Meat are looking for in gamers. At least they're merciful enough to make each level short (ranging from 5 seconds to a minute long – hardly anything too taxing, and long levels are rare as well). I don't know, something about having to time your jumps perfectly so that you get over the gap and not get hit by something that can kill you (buzzsaws, streams of needles and even *bleep*ing lasers) is a bit of a hard prick.

In saying that, it's about as old school as it gets, so there's a lot of trial and error involved. Instead of enemies picking up on your bad habits, YOU have to pick up on your own and toss them aside in order to complete the game – later levels, in particular. There's not much in the way of AI or any of that crap you see in more modern games, so if you're not quick to sharpen your skills, don't bother playing.

Replay Value: This game boasts a whole lot of replay value. As well as the levels you have to go through, you have to tackle their “Dark World” equivalent, which is basically the original level on steroids. If you had trouble with the original level, good luck tackling its harder version! Of course, you have to earn that right by completing each original level within a set amount of time.

Then there are the Warp Zones, which changes the graphical style and only gives you three lives. You have to find these in specific locations throughout the game, both in the original levels AND in the Dark World. There are four per world, so happy hunting! Some of these even have secret chatacters, like the Kid from I Wanna Be The Guy, who you can use in other levels to... well, because you can. Finally, the Minus Levels, which tend to be found by accident... and you'll need even more luck to actually beat these suckers, because good god, these are hard! Yeah, there are heaps of levels to explore beyond the original set.

Even after that, you have some collectibles to find – bandages. Finding enough of them will unlock more characters, and collecting all of them will result in an achievement. In fact, this game lives through its insane amount of replay value. The only reason you're not replaying this is because you've either gotten everything, or because you didn't like the game, and that's cool, because replay value is really meant for those who, umm, like the game.

Controls: Meat Boy does feel a little slippery when you gain control of him. Then again, he IS 100% sloppy meat, so no wonder. It takes a little time to get used to, but once you do, you'll take note of how precise the controls are. Jumping, walljumping and running is as easy as 1-2-3, and responds very well. Admittedly, the extra characters don't seem to have their control as tight as Meat Boy's, but it's not as if you'll be using them nearly as much as you would Meat Boy. Problem solved.

Graphics: The levels look good, and they all have their own distinct look and feel. For instance, the first world starts off looking like the game is all sunshine and lollipops, then you're in some caves and even inside an industrial building, but it's still got nature behind it. Then the second world is basically a hospital, with the third being a salt factory – and you'll see it in the later worlds that they all have distinct looks, and the way they're all captured is like something you'd expect from a good Flash movie (and don't tell me there's no such thing you bloody try hard!) - lots of color and vibrancy, but never to the point of overkill, and the detail may be simple, but in the way it's done, it looks nice. If there are any concerns, some of the animations feel a little stiff. I mean, most animations are smooth, but some aren't, and you definitely tell the good ones from the bad ones... sounds like American animation... MOVING ON!

Audio: I could criticize the soundtrack for consisting of short and repetitious songs, but I felt that they're better because of that. Not all of the songs are, but they might as well be, and again, they're better because of it. Levels are never all that long, unless you die a thousand times, so it's not as if you'll get sick of hearing the songs in each world, plus.. they're all really enjoyable songs to listen to, both in the game, and in the car. In the game, it pumps you up, getting you ready for action! Oh, and the remixes of each song in the Dark World and Warp Zones are a welcome edition, especially the Dark World remixes, as they seem to carry this dark and foreboding atmosphere, which ought to be an indication of how much harder they are than their original selves, but it's just a hell of a nostalgia trip when you hear 8-bit or 16-bit renditions of each song... Great soundtrack, overall.

Overall: Super Meat Boy is a pretty damn tough slab of meat. There isn't much to the gameplay, and the difficulty can and will shy away casual players. However, to those who actually won't mind some challenge after playing through many – to be frank – easy/bullshit hard games, I suggest buying it. It's only, what, ten-fifteen bucks for hours and hours of entertainment? Shit, I've put in like 120 hours, and still find this game entertaining, especially due to all the content that's present.. that said, if hard games aren't your thing, go play *bleep*ing Call Of Duty or something.

Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 10/15
Replay Value: 8/10
Controls: 9/10
Graphics: 4/5
Audio: 5/5
Overall: 40/50

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