Review: Super Meat Boy
It's no secret that 2010 will probably go down as one of those trainwreck years for the MMO genre. Just skimming over some of the articles being featured here on MMORPG.com the last few weeks, it's painfully obvious that I am not alone in this sentiment. I'm predicting and looking forward to watching "None of the Above" winning the MMORPG.com game of the year award personally (a write-up for another day perhaps). Regardless, this makes it very difficult for me at times to write reviews on MMOs when I can't find one that's interesting enough to play. So as a blogger I get to decide whether or not I let my blog go stale as the genre hits a depression, or if I talk about some of the other fun non-MMO related titles that have been taking up a lot of my time recently. I do enjoy writing here and feedback indicates many enjoy reading, so you may find me using this space from time to time to diverge from some MMO related topics. Today will be one of those times.
The last few months I've been really exploring the concept of buying games via download instead of going to the store, and as late as I am to the party on this one, I've really been enjoying the Steam service in terms of the sales they offer and getting exposed to some games that I otherwise would have never heard of that I'll possibly talk more about. One such game is Super Meat Boy.
Super Meat Boy is a 2D side-scrolling platformer that derived from a flash game on Newgrounds, was released on the XBox as a downloadable game, and appeared on my radar a few weeks ago as a die-hard old-school gamer. I did some research and saw that this little game won all kinds of awards and received top scores on most major sites, so I decided to roll the dice and throw down the $15 to see what happens. As someone who loves old-school platformers like Castlevania, Mega Man, and Ninja Gaiden, all I can say in terms of SMB is that this game pays a lot of homage to the classics will carving out its own place among those legendary classics.
Super Meat Boy is not for everyone (sound familiar?). This game is a very challenging precision platformer. The controls are extremely responsive and tight, and the game can be played with either a gamepad or a keyboard. The game recommends a pad, but most who I know playing it (myself included) have done just fine with the keyboard. The game basically is a throwback to the old 8-Bit era of platformers, and as such you will die quite often. The good news is that after each death, you are respawned instantly with hardly anytime to comprehend the horror of what just happened. If you are a baby who wants to be coddled, Super Meat Boy will slap you across your fat baby face and send you crying for your mommy after the initial worlds. For those who are up to the challenge, you will find a game that is hard, but fair in the sense that the game is not cheap. Every time you die it will be only to fault of your own be it that your timing was off, you took a bad angle off a wall jump, or cracked under the pressure.
The game features over 300 stages in total spread across a variety of different worlds. Each world features 20 different stages, 17 of which must be completed to unlock the boss stage that must be completed to unlock the next world. Each of the stages exist in what the game calls the "Light World", which if completed quick enough will unlock access to the "Dark World" version which is substantially more challenging. Most levels in Super Meat Boy can be usually completed in 30 seconds or less, but mastering them can take some time depending on your skill level. In additions to the light world and dark world, there are secret warp zone worlds hidden throughout the game, secret glitch levels, and items to collect which in turn unlocks a variety of secret playable characters, each of which has their own unique skillset and playstyle. In short this game is a wet dream for completionists and challenge seekers.
Despite the game's difficulty, I rarely found myself angry to the point where I wanted to stop playing. Quite the contrary, this game to me is just as addicting to play as it is challenging. This game will make you blurt out obscenities and shriek in general when you screw up close to the end of a challenging level, but it will also make you throw your hands up in joy and give you an almost unparalleled level of satisfaction that is a rarity to be found in modern day gaming. When you enter a very complex stage you will gasp at the obsurdity of the obstacles that lay before you pondering how navigating them is even possible. As you commit to each level, you will surprise yourself at how you watch your body adapt to get a little further with each attempt until that glorious moment where you stand at the exit exhaling that breath you've been holding the entire time. While all of this is going on, you will be graced with quite possibly one of the best video game soundtracks (Award winning) I have heard since Symphony of the Night (one of my personal favorites).
My friends made fun of me in vent when they saw the name of the game I was playing pop up on their Steam friends list making all kinds of predictable innuendos. Several of them have now decided to take the leap and have been blown away. As well as becoming addicted to tackling the hurdles Super Meat Boy throws at you, the Inquisition e-peen contest over who can get higher up on the in-game leaderboards for fastest times on some of the levels ha added even more value. For $15 there is a tremendous amount of value here for those willing to go after all of the games biggest challenges.
Using myself as an example, I have almost 40 hours clocked in on this game and my overall completion of all of the game's content is around 85% (which that last 15% being the hardest and probably taking the longest to complete). Of course with all those hours going after all those challenges comes with traveling down a road paved in many deaths (which the game keeps track of), but at the end of the day I will wear it as a badge of honor if I am able to complete everything SMB has to offer. If you are a fan of 2D platformers I give this game the highest possible recommendation, it is easily an instant classic and one of the best I have played in years.
Co-Leader of Inquisition