I get really excited about a game maybe once every year. Maybe only twice every three years. So when I say you must buy Super Meat Boy, I’m not saying it’s the best game I’ve played in a few months, or the first game to scratch an itch that’s needed scratching for a while. I’m saying this is one of the best games to be released for any platform in a long, long time.
If you don’t know, Super Meat Boy is a platformer. Originally released on XBLA, the PC version has more content, and developers promise more updates for this version.
You play as Meat Boy, a red square, and you must save your girlfriend, Bandage Girl, a pink square, from Dr. Fetus, a mean fetus that operates a suit. The game has over 100 levels, and each is frenetic and challenging. Think N+ with higher speed and less-floaty jumps. There are falls, wall jumps, speed runs, well-timed obstacles that are hard to dodge, missiles, flying jaws that explode into other jaws and moving buzzsaws.
I probably missed something.
There are an additional 120 (or whatever) levels that are the “dark world”. These levels are similar but much harder than their original counterparts. There are also warp zones to be discovered and pockets of three levels for which only three lives are given for each level (the regular game has no “lives”, you just try over and over again). There are over 10 other characters to be discovered with different specialties to use, too. Having the options make the game much more fun. So does having a replay at the end of every level with an option to save that shows all your failed attempts and one successful attempt at the same time. Twenty-five headcrabs flying across the room is a sight to behold.
The graphics are simple, but the animation is highly crisp, which makes the game feel new and classic at the same time. The music is mainly metal in order to match the pace of the game.
I thought it was impossible for developers to make games that make challenges rewarding for their own sake. Not for the sake of content, completionism, achievements, or competition (though SMB has all those elements) but just its own sake. I took the trip and somehow, I feel like a satisfied person for it. Almost like I did something meaningful. Better than a Mega Man ever made me feel. What games do that anymore?
Note: The game warns you to use a controller. This is advice you ignore at your peril. This game will ruin your hands if you let it, even with a controller. You won’t get very far using the keyboard.
Pros: Funny, well-executed, engrossing, highly challenging while feeling fair, well-presented
Cons: somewhat buggy, practically demands a controller