The year is in its eleventh hour now with some of the biggest games coming and going too fast to keep up with. My only hope is that a small arcade-style title named Super Meat Boy doesn’t get washed away with the rest of the usual fodder. Much of this rests on my love of the platforming genre, so when a game comes along that isn’t just good but exceptional, I dive on it like it’s a live grenade. Actually, that may be apt here seeing as how I’ve never done so much physical damage to my body as when I played Super Meat Boy. Enough stalling, here’s why it’s a must-buy.
The main character is a hunk of meat. He is dating a girl made of bandages named Bandage Girl. They are both hated by the evil Dr. Fetus, a fetus in a jar with a top hat and monocle who has stolen Bandage Girl and placed her at the end of some of the most difficult platforming stages this side of I Wanna Be The Guy.
Here’s where I get to brag just a little bit. Those unfamiliar with I Wanna Be The Guy, it is a free PC game made by a guy who felt like making a stupidly difficult platforming game where every single thing tries to kill you, including spikes, fruit, and the moon. And I somehow beat that game. Super Meat Boy is even harder than that, so much so that I’m not even 100% done with the game but I can safely say that I’m past the point where at least 90% of gamers would be forced to give up.
So yes, Super Meat Boy is difficult in the same way that vampires are pasty and toast is crisp. You will die thousands of times before reaching even the standard end of the game. At this moment, I have completed the first 4 chapters, Light and Dark Worlds, with an A+ on each stage, plus every Light World Stage in Chapters 5 and 6, Teh Internets, and found just over 50 bandages. My death counter is about to hit 4000, and even that feels generous to me. I’ve been forced to wrap part of my right thumb in bandages, lost feeling it its tip, strained my trigger finger, and felt sharp pains up that arm. Few other games have ever made me take a few days rest to physically recover.
Normally I’d complain about the difficulty spiking at some point in the game to levels of unfairness, but that isn’t the case here. On the contrary, Super Meat Boy begins unfair and only seeks to find your breaking point via saws, salt, missile launchers, and all manner of hellish obstacles. Thankfully, while the game contains over 300 levels, each level can be completed in under 30 seconds with the longest level thus far asking me to complete it in under 70 seconds for an A+ score.
There will come a time where you’re expected to perform to such a high degree that single pixels could mean the difference between completing a level or getting munched up by some spinning instrument of death. And you will be angry. And it will be perfectly reasonable to scream obscenities and rage quit. But once you beat that level on the 50th try you’ll feel all the better with yourself.
While I expected myself to become bothered by every new addition the game tossed at me, I was actually always surprised with glee at how inventive the challenge becomes. Each chapter consists of some new main obstacle standing in your way, such as the homing missile launchers getting added at some point around the middle of the game, and as you go through the chapters and begin to hate this obstacle, you just keep reminding yourself, “I’ll see this thing less in the next chapter,” only to then have it replaced by something I can’t give a name to but could be summed up as “Satan’s screaming missile launcher of Hell.” In essence, the level design is to be praised rather than scoffed at, despite the difficulty. You’ll be a better gamer for having gone through it.
This very second, Super Meat Boy is priced at a more than reasonable 1200 MS points, or $15 in the real world. Even just half of this game has been worth the $15, but where I am now? It’s worth a full-priced retail release. Snatch it up while the meat’s still rare and enjoy yourself raw. Unless you’re bad at platformers. In that instance, just say away from Super Meat Boy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to save Bandage Girl a few dozen more times before my thumb falls off.
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