Its not very often I come across something that I feel the urge to put digits to keys for, but I discovered something special recently, dripping and lurking in the dark recesses of the XBLA (well its all over the dashboard, but we wont quibble over semantics). What I’m talking about is the recently released XBLA title from Team Meat ‘Super Meat Boy’.
If you have been following the life and times of Meat Boy, you may know he had his humble beginnings as a flash game way back in 2008. It became a resounding success, so much so that Team Meat were asked “Hey you? Yes you! Make this game for consoles.” And
thank god they did. I myself missed the flash incarnation and in total honesty, dismissed the game (GASP!) when it was announced for XBLA back in February of this year. To watch this game being played doesn’t display the core draw for such a title and you really have to get your hands bloody, sore and aching to understand it.
You play ‘Meat boy’ a small cube of meat; Meat Boy has a girlfriend ‘Bandage Girl’. Meat Boy and Bandage Girl are in love. However, as is always the case in games such as this, there is always someone who has a bone to pick, and this someone is Dr. Fetus (and yes he is what his name suggests). Dr. Fetus precedes to kidnap your girl and this simply won’t stand……Super Meat Boy to the rescue.
At a glance the game seems like a very simple concept, you start at point A, Bandage Girl is at point B. Get from point A to B and everyone’s a winner, and for the first 10 or so levels you will find yourself hurtling through them like nobody’s business. Then comes the rub, the levels start to become increasingly difficult, not “OMG THIS GAMEZ IS BROKORZ!” more along the lines of “Well I did that wrong, I WANT MORE!!!” and this is where the controls play a really big part.
You have a choice, thumb stick or D-pad? Now the D-pad is notorious for being as useful as a narcoleptic in a staring contest, but you will find what works for you and find it very quickly. The only other controls you have are the X/RT to run and then the A button to jump. The beauty in these controls, lies in how responsive they are. You feel totally in control and despite dying (which you will, over and over and over) it never feels cheap and is always a case of lesson learned. This game at its heart is a precision platformer, every false move is punished, but you always have yourself to blame. Let me put it this way, its like having something stuck in your teeth: sure its annoying and no matter how much you tongue at it it just wont budge. But that moment, that one moment when you feel it come loose and you achieve dominance over the annoying morsel, that is the feeling you get when you complete each level.
Each world has 20 basic levels and a boss battle to complete things. Every one with it own distinctive style which harkens back to the platformers of the 80’s and 90’s which is where a lot of its references’ are drawn from and that isn’t a bad thing. This simliarties to the platformers of the 80’s and 90‘s becomes more evident in the way world maps are displayed. Levels are numbered squares and you move left to right to select the level, very ‘Old School’ but it serves the purpose and no niggles really, everything functions as it should.
Alongside the standard levels there are numerous warp zones that transport the player back to bygone eras of gaming and also unlock additional characters. Additionally every level has a ‘dark world’ twin, which is basically the same level amped up to 11, to truly test your skills. Add into this mix leader boards (which can make for some great competition) and you’ve got yourself many a long, long, long evening of pain, suffering and rage. (But in the good sense of the words)
The whole gaming experience is tied together nicely by means of animations between worlds, each filled little nods and references’ that people of a certain age will get and say “hey I remember that!”. Racing against a character made of poo for example, highlights the humour, but never seems too childish.
All that said, this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. For every 100 Deaths you’re going to have that one sweet moment of victory, when you finally reach Bandage Girl, only to have her stolen away by Dr. Fetus, ready for the next onslaught of buzz saws and hellfire. One for the JRPG fan this is not, but if you have anything about you, you can do far worse then picking up the trial version and getting your ‘MEAT’ on.
Community rating: With more meat than your average deli counter I’d give Super Meat boy a sirloin 9/10.
Platform: XBLA, Wii and Mac Release: out now for XBLA, Wii and Mac later this month.
This Community Content article was created by Discobeaver, a member of our community. Community Content is your way of getting long-form writing and opinion out to the Midlife Gamer audience, an open platform to get something off your chest. For full guidelines on our editorial standards and how to create your own post, click here. The views expressed within are those of the author and not necessarily the opinions of the Midlife Gamer Staff.