Super Meat BoylikePEGI12 Developer Team Meat Publisher Team Meat Genre Action Platform Xbox 360 Release 20th October 2010 There are times where games get so frustrating that I want to follow through my hollow-threats of embedding my controller into my TV screen. I'm impatient, irritable and frankly, easily annoyed. So you may just wonder how I would deal with games which their whole purpose is to be frustrating. Well, let me step you through Super Meat Boy, a downloadable indie title for the Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo WiiWare and PC. I'll spoil it for you now, it's awesome. Really, really awesome.

Dr.Fetus always knows how to make friends.
Super Meat Boy, or SMB, which the more observational amongst you may have noticed is also the acronym for Super Mario Bros., is a platforming game, a very difficult one. If you're like me and a product of the 80's or even early 90's, you've most likely played some of the more difficult platforming games on the NES, I know a lot of you have at least played Ninja Gaiden on the NES and know just how badly a video game can be next-to-impossible at times. Super Meat Boy isn't quite as ludicrously difficult, but still easily on the 'Use profanity at the TV' end of the scale. It's a game filled with tight platforming mechanics, a crazy storyline and nostalgia just about everywhere you look.

The story is pretty simple, you have Meat Boy, our adorable animate pile of meat and his lady-friend Bandage Girl. They seem pretty happy until the evil, if not somewhat inappropriately named Dr.Fetus realises that everyone hates him (with help of the textual narrator in the intro) and decides to punch Bandage Girl square in the face and kidnap her. It's up to Meat Boy to die endlessly in order to save her. The whole game is filled with some pretty dark humour, if you haven't already guessed the angle they were going for. Constant violence towards the only female character in the story is just the running gag. Most the story is told through small animated segments which resemble games of years gone by, Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden are just some of the highlights.

He always looks so happy just before smashing into a rotating blade of death.
The real beauty of Super Meat Boy is its simplicity, as all platforming games should be. Your basic move-set includes the ability to run, jump and wall jump (which comes with the extra-handy upwards wall-slide). Through-out the game you'll unlock new characters to play as either by finding them or collecting bandages that are hidden in stages, these characters are from other indie games such as Braid, Bit.Trip and assorted flash games or animations from the flash-portal: Newgrounds. Each character has their own unique ability, such as the ability to hover slightly, stick to walls or flutter by continued hold or intermittent tapping on the jump button. There's a lot of characters to chose from, sadly not all parts of the game are accessible to each character, though.

The level progression is sort of wacky in the game, but in a good way. The only linear path you take in this game is world progression, each world contains 40+ levels split between a 'light' and 'dark' variation of each world, with the 'dark world' levels being more devilish in their design. You can also find "Warp Zones" in levels which transport you to either a series of levels to unlock a new character or, more likely, send you to a series of tedious levels which you're restricted to 3 deaths per stage, which is a stark contrast to normal stages in the game as there is no concept of 'lives' in these stages. These special stages are also themed around a more old-school design, some even mimicking the original Gameboy visual style to great effect.

Always I wanna be with you, and make believe with you and live in harmony, HARMONY, OH LOOOVE.
Within each world you can play any of the 20 normal stages from the get-go. So long as you complete 17 of them, you can complete the world and move onto the next. In order to truly complete a world, however, you need to defeat a boss. Bosses generally revolve around you not actually directly attacking the boss. It's usually just more complicated, more pressured platforming stage. For instance, The Forest world has a boss in which you must simply run away from the boss. Later world bosses will include you scaling an area vertically to complete it, another is a race against time to avoid an instant-death rising pile of salt. These stages compliment the game very well as... Well, it's just the normal stages but with a slight twist.

I don't think I can avoid it much longer, so let's talk about difficulty. Super Meat Boy isn't all that hard, well, so long as you're able to master the controls quickly. Else it's an upwards struggle to get to grips with the mechanics in the game and an endless cycle of deaths. I'd love to tell you that you never feel like the game cheats you on some of these deaths, but it does. Turrets half way through the game will give you the biggest headache, inconsistent firing times and homing missiles will catch you out on a regular basis but other than this, the controls are so forgiving that you can easily recover mid-jump once you realise what a bad mistake you're making, wall jumping is easy and responsive for the most part (I say most-part because sometimes the game just doesn't want to register the pressing of the jump button, leading to some embarrassing deaths at the start of levels and some very annoying deaths right at the end of some levels). The game really does kick the difficulty into high-gear around the fourth chapter and it just keeps escalating from there. But despite all the game's good intentions and forthcoming nature about how brutal it can be, I still wound up speaking like a sailor to my poor TV.

You'd think losing such a lot of meat would be catastophic for his body.
Visually speaking there's not an awful lot to say about Super Meat Boy. It's simplistic but stylish and well, stylish is always good in my books. The game is the successor to the popular browser-based flash game: "Meat Boy" and well, it shows. I don't mean this in a negative way, but the unmistakeable vector-look from creative suites like Adobe Flash spring to mind instantly during the animated segments in the game. In-game graphics do the job nicely, with objects that kill Meat Boy or his pals having the remnants of a former attemptee still splattered on them, and the helpful trail of meat left behind where-ever Meat Boy touches can show you where you were when things went right or wrong as the case may be. The transitions between 'old school' stages and the normal stages are also well defined, with awesome 8-bit art used as the title card for each of the sections. One small hiccup I faced, however, was that the screen often cut-off either side of the screen slightly, this may just be a PAL issue or a SDTV issue or just an issue I'm facing, but it does actually have a little bit of impact on gameplay, especially when you can't see a wall hiding just off-screen.

The game really shines with it's audio, sound effects and music fit perfectly into this twisted-yet-cutesy world which Team Meat have created. Some hark back to older video games, others are original pieces. All you need to know is that the music is awesome. If I really wanted to nit-pick, I would bring up the fact that some audio samples don't quite loop perfectly and by perfectly I mean 'quite noticeable', but hey, they're slight blemishes. Lots of tracks in the game are quite catchy, others are just really nice melodies. The game doesn't skimp on the audio either, with each world having their own 'Dark World' theme as well as light-world theme. It all comes together quite nicely and really sets the tone for the game perfectly.

Look at this adorable game, you'd never think it's soul-destroyingly difficult, would you?
In the end, Super Meat Boy is a downloadable indie video game made by a handful of people. For your 1200 Microsoft Points (about £10 or equivalent on Wii/PC, you're getting a lot of play-time, a lot of laughs and a lot of fun. It's definitely a game I recommend whole-heartedly to anyone who enjoys a good platforming game. It's also a damn sight better than half the games coming out from big companies for Holiday Season 2010. So while you wait for those easily forgettable sequels and spin-offs to come down in price, why not play a refreshing, old-school styled nostalgia-fest which will repulse you as much it will make you adore it. Buy this game. Do it now. do eet.
It's basic, but gets the job done. It can be a bit inappropriate at times, sure hope you're not easily offended.
It's amazing, it's lenient but that wont save you hundreds of deaths each time you play. And I mean literally hundreds.
They may seem simple, but they're sure-as-hell stylised and consistent.
Amazing sounding in all regards. Some looping issues, but they can easily be over-looked by just the quality of the soundtrack itself.
8 Hours
I say 8 hours, but you can get so much more out of the game with unlockable characters. The game lends itself to repeated play-throughs just for fun.