Game Title: Super Meat Boy
Release Date: October 20, 2010
Developer: Team Meat
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, Wii
MSRP: 800 MS Points ($10.00)
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Of all the times I wish I could have been a fly on the wall somewhere, the concept meeting for this game would have been near the top of the list.
“Ok so get this, a bloody little blob of raw meat is in love with a female pile of bandages. This love is broken up when an evil fetus in a jar (who happens to be a doctor in formal wear) kidnaps her and forces meat boy (who is super by the way) through hours of progressively difficult challenges to try and get her back. What do you guys think, winner right?”
Not sure if it actually played out that way but in any event, the fellas at Team Meat put together one kick ass game for Xbox Live Arcade. In the spirit of all time great 2D platformers like Super Mario and Donkey Kong, Super Meat Boy takes you on a bloody, carnage filled journey to reunite our hero with the love of his life. Before we talk about the game itself I will provide a warning, if you have rage issues or a propensity to throw things (controller…meet TV), this probably isn’t the game for you.
The game itself is fairly straight forward with “run” and “jump” controls. By making small adjustments in how long you hold the button down or when you choose to jump, you can very quickly learn from your mistakes to finish levels. You get a feel very early on as to how SMB will react in certain situations, the learning curve isn’t very steep here. Since there are no save points in the game, you learn from your mistakes and after 30 times of screaming at your controller (which I found I was holding in a death grip the entire time), you can fly through the level with relative ease. As an added bonus, once you finish a level the game provides a montage of all of your previous attempts for a good laugh. The blood and guts from your death are left on display as you retry each level as a gruesome reminder of your failures.
The thing I really like about this game is that it doesn’t deter you from coming back for more. Whereas some games try to simply stay smarter than you, SMB wants you to learn and improve. You start off on relatively danger free levels to get your sea legs and a feel for how momentum and gravity will play into future campaigns, this is a huge factor in getting players to stick around instead of hitting the power button and never coming back. It is also a testament to the meticulous detail that went into this game.
Since each level is relatively short, the replay frustration isn’t as high as on games that force you back to the beginning of a level you’ve spent 15 minutes running through. Most levels can clock in a time of between 20-30 seconds once you master the path of least resistance. At times you won’t even know what you are supposed to do to complete the level but in death comes wisdom my friends. Work your way through and you get to face bosses that tend to drive you a little batty.
In addition to the 300 levels you can play, rewards for excellence grant you access to hidden levels and characters. Master a level and you are able to play a “dark” version which is essentially a monochromatic, ass kicking rendition of the original. If you think avoiding a row of death saws is tough in full color, wait until you have to try it in black and white. Certain skill sets are needed as you progress so SMB is given a cast of unlock-able friends including Tim (Braid), Pink Knight (Castle Crashers), Jill (Mighty Jill Off) and many others. Once unlocked, you can access any of these characters to help you complete your task.
Not only can you unlock new characters but through hidden portals, you can access warpzones for even more new content. These trips include 8-bit cut scenes and movies that offer a good laugh for older games who can appreciate the days when that was considered “amaaaaaazing”. Add to that a really solid soundtrack and you’ve got a great game here. Team Meat appears to be solidly behind new DLC for the game so the level count will be over 400 in no time. This is definitely one you will have a hard time putting down. I have to give this game 5 plates of steak tartare out of 5.
BONUS – If you want you own super-duper SMB and Dr. Fetus cubes, click the pictures below.