Cody “KINGBLUNKERS” Allison.
We continue our series of the greatest hits of PC gaming with our next installment.
This week we are talking about Super Meat Boy!
Super Meat Boy
This game takes your classic platformer and injects it with some speed and dark humor.
The game started out as a flash game in 2008, and fully released on PC and Xbox in 2010 by the duo-developer group appropriately named Team Meat. And later on Playstation and Wii U.
Like I said before the game is a level-based platformer. If you aren’t familiar with the term platformer, think of your old school Mario game or Sonic games where primarily you jump from platform to platform until you reach your objective or the end of the level.
The basic plot-line of the game is that you are our unsanitary hero, Meat Boy. A little red square of meat that leaves behind a mess everywhere you go. You are perfectly happy with your Pink-Cube girlfriend Bandage Girl, until the evil Dr. Fetus comes and steals her away. And yeah.. Dr. Fetus.. Is a Fetus in a jar…? And the jar is wearing a suit and top hat. Complete with monocle
Weird I know… but that’s kinda a recurring theme in this game… weird.
So classic Mario/Donkey Kong style. Each level is simply a challenge for Meat Boy to avoid all obstacles and harms in his way and get to the end of the course to rescue Bandage girl. However, every time you catch up to her… the evil Dr. Fetus just takes her away to the next level.
The mechanics of Super Meat Boy are very simple. There is only really three actions.
Move, Sprint, and jump. It’s the combination of these three simple mechanics, eventually lead to very difficult and precise maneuvers that make you feel like a crazy meat-ninja.
As it was made for Xbox and PC, the developers certainly had in mind that you would play this game with a gamepad. If you’re new to PC gaming, you might hate this if you just threw down some cash for a nice mechanical keyboard or fancy gaming mouse, but heed the developers warning… This is a game meant to be played with a controller. It will be a good investment to buy a PC compatible Xbox controller. Lots of games these days are built for them.
Playing the Game
But now that you know the basic… plot… yeah we will call it a plot. The basic plot, characters, and mechanics, time to just start talking about what has made this game an easy recommendation to anyone I’ve met new to the PC world.
Like I said in my last review of portal, Portal I think makes people feel clever when they solve a difficult puzzle. Super Meat Boy doesn’t too often leave its players with questions, but more just a healthy frustration because “I just can’t execute it”. It’s all about precision and action. You know exactly where to jump and what will make the little meat-cube die and explode all over the map, but it’s a game that you will lose over and over and over and over.
In fact, when you complete a level, it will show you all the attempts you made trying to complete that stage at one time as well as the number of times you died and time it took you to complete the level. It’s a weird mix of triumph and frustration, seeing evidence of your failures running through the course and all the ghost runners fall except for your final and only successful attempt. And the most important thing that Super Meat Boy does, is that when you fail, it doesn’t feel like you’re being punished.
Don’t worrying about saving!
You don’t worry about saving your progress, or checkpoints. Each level is relatively small and when you die you immediately respawn without any “Retry” Screen or prompt. It allows you to try over and over without having to leave the game. Imagine your super Mario games without checkpoints, or Halo without automatic save points. Their levels are long and have cut scenes and need pacing mechanisms in order to keep the player sane when they fail. We all can think of a haunting game that made you replay something over and over (I’m looking at you kingdom hearts… i swear i still here “YOU’RE NEVER TAKING KAIRI’S HEART” in my sleep sometimes)
Super Meat Boy knows the levels are difficult and allows you to fail without being punished. The penalty is that you have to restart the level of course, but the levels are so short, often times getting back to that same sawblade that murdered you, only takes about 10-15 seconds. And as I said before, when you do finally win, it feels satisfying. So the combination of quick failure/quick restart, short levels, and precise display of action needed to win all comes together for a challenging game, which will destroy you, but reward you on the other side.
Audio & Visuals
The audio/visuals in this game are again weird… but fitting for the mood. I mentioned that Meat Boy leaves a trail of what I believe would be his own meat-juice everywhere he runs, and if you die on a spike/sawblade, there will be meat-blood on those saws for subsequent attempts as well. So based on the amount of times I expect a user to fail in this game-I bet you will uh…. “paint the town red”.
And the dark humor element of this game takes you to many different maps including the hospital, where many of the spikes are replaced with used syringes. Or The Salt factory where Meat Boy can parish on salt… I guess too much salt over preserves the meat and destroys him… It’s a video game… logic doesn’t always exist ☺
The Bosses are creative, as Super Meat Boy is not a combative game. You do not actually assault any of your enemies. My personal favorite is the boss fight Brownie, which… is… there’s no way to maturely say this… Brownie is a turd… literally. A little brown cube that you have to race. And weirder still it’s Dr. Fetus’s turd that he pushes out and it comes to life. So racing, avoiding, making them hit themselves, and one case of murder by sunlight exposure, Super Meat Boy again takes its expertise of making short, but difficult levels. And you still feel like you defeated this boss character despite never throwing a punch or firing a weapon. Meat Boy is a lover not a fighter.
Another reason I both simultaneously love and hate Super Meat Boy is its depth. When I was a kid I considered myself a gaming completion-ist. I loved to 100% games. As I mentioned in my gaming background story. I played a lot of Mario Party. And I would play until I had unlocked every minigame, won on every board, and set all the records in the mini games that had them. This continued and was enabled by Xbox 360’s achievement system. I loved looking and seeking out all the achievements that the game developers put in.
After I while I realized that to 100% all the games that I played would be a full time job, so I settled for playing more games, mostly complete, rather than playing a few games that I beat 100%. But believe me… if it’s obtainable in a reasonable amount of time and effort, I’m going for that achievement or side quest.
Back to the Game
But back to Super Meat Boy. Super meat boy has TONS of extra options. First of all you can complete the normal game. And you have to beat each level to get to the next one.
But while you play the game, you can collect bandages, which unlock additional playable characters featuring Bit Trip Runner’s “Commander Video” or Half-Life’s creepy head crab. Each have a unique ability that puts a tiny spin on the game. In addition to that, there are WARP ZONES! I emphasize this, because when you find one… the announcer screams warp zones… honestly my favorite part of the game.
But warp zones are unique bonus levels that have you play as more unlockable characters, with more challenges, art styles, and a nice break from the weird weird world of Super Meat Boy and into other weird worlds. And if you still want more fun, there are dark world levels that are the same level you just played in the normal mode, but backwards and with more added hazards and obstacles.
If you like to complete games… 100% get ready. You’ve got your work cut out for you.
All in all, Super Meat Boy is a fantastic game to add to your virtual collection. It’s a little bit weird… then again so are most gamers, so I don’t think it will phase you in that sense.
I like the game because it’s challenging and easy to pick up. I remember having 10 mins before having to leave for work or class in college and would just knock out a couple levels and come back later. And it’s really intuitive. I just played it again this week for the first time in months… and the controls just fell back into place.
Let me know what you think about this game or any of the other games.
If you have a game you’d like to nominate to the PC greatest hits, then comment below!
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With much love,
Cody “KINGBLUNKERS” Allison