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.
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.
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.
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.
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 HoursI 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.