Super Meat Boy

It’s an oldie now, but it’s a personal favourite, and for today it’s only £1.09 on Steam, so it seems the ideal time to tell you why you need more meat in your life.

Dr Fetus

Dr Fetus

Super Meat Boy takes us back to a better time. A time of pixel perfect platforming jumps. A time of “I’m going to tear my hair out if I screw up that jump one more time!”

It tells the deep and meaningful tale of Meat Boy in his ongoing battle with the dark force that is Dr Fetus (a fetus in a jar, with a top hat). The evil Dr Fetus has run off with Meat Boy’s love, Bandage Girl – and it’s your job to rescue her. She’s positioned at the end of each level – and sure enough, the second Meat Boy gets to rescue her, she’s whisked off to the next level by Dr Fetus, the fiend!

So yes, so far, so generic. But this game isn’t here to do anything particularly revolutionary. What it does do, is perfect.

Gone is the frustrating concept of “number of lives”. This game will give you as many chances as you need to complete it. And you will need them. It rewards you for completing a level inside a time limit. And rewards you for collecting tiny “bandages” positioned across the various levels, by unlocking special characters, who provide a number of abilities to make the levels that bit easier to complete. And as you’d expect, with the platforming heritage, there’s also a number of secret warp levels for you to discover and complete.

Mind the saw blade!

And that saw blade. And that one. Whoa, that was… oh, you didn’t mind that one. 🙁

This game is a completionists dream (or nightmare).

The style of the game is hard to describe. Cartoon, yet macabre. Every wall that Meat Boy jumps onto gets coated in cartoon blood that oozes from his being. And every time you end up diving onto a spinning blade of death (which does happen a lot), you explode in a satisfying cloud of visceral goo. All of this mess remains across your attempts to complete the level, so that when you do finally manage to complete it, it tends to resemble an abattoir; albeit a cartoon one.

If you’re the kind of player who, upon making a mistake, grins, and hits “try again”, this game is for you. This game will complete you.

If you’re the kind of player who gets frustrated, and eventually hurls the controller across the room – it may still be for you, but buy additional controllers. Just to be on the safe side.

Meat Boy is able to jump, run, and slide down vertical surfaces. Using this set of moves, you need to navigate your way through some of the most fiendishly difficult levels you will come across in any platform game. I’m not exaggerating. This game is difficult. But my God, it’s so fun!

When you do complete a level, you’re treated to an action replay of every life you’ve given up to the level, all occurring together at one time. Hundreds of Meat Boys, running off to try and complete the level, before exploding. Until all that’s left is the most recent replay, of you completing the level. It’s satisfying to watch.

Levels are themed by the World they exist within – with each World culminating with a boss battle. It’s more of a “boss avoid”, than battle – the first sees you being chased across a level by Dr Fetus in a massive death robot suit, wielding a chainsaw. It provides additional impetus to get you to move quickly.

If this level is driving you nuts, try another.

If you do get sick of a level, there’s plenty of others to try.

Pros: Old skool in the extreme.

  • There’s no hand holding here. This game exists to frustrate you.
  • The levels are superb. A mix of spinning death blades, hypodermics stuffed into walls, pits of death. You will die, a lot, in this game.
  • The style appeals to me, although I concede your mileage may vary. Heroic lumps of meat rescuing the girl from a fetus in a jar just works for me.
  • Hundreds of levels to play, including player-designed additional levels.

Cons: It is hard. So hard. So frustratingly hard.

  • There’s no hand holding here. This game exists to frustrate you.
  • Controllers may die. If you feel your blood pressure going up, put it down, and come back later.

Conclusion

If you’re a masochist, this is the game for you. If you want a game to spank you, this is the game for you. You will die. A lot.

But it is bloody fun. Both literally, and figuratively.

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

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