Thursday, April 14, 2011


Sometimes I find myself all alone in the Xbox dashboard, with no friends online and no desire to play the games I currently own all by myself. Usually, this just means I must wallow in slightly pathetic misery until I turn my Xbox off and find something else to do. However, if the planets are correctly aligned and somewhere in the world a child enters the contra code on an NES controller, I happily realize that I have microsoft points with which to buy an Xbox Live Arcade game. When it comes to these precious points, I am often stingy on what I should spend them on. I download a bunch of free demos, play them, and then buy whichever game sparks my interest. This is not what happened recently. I downloaded the demo for a game called Super Meat Boy, thinking it had a strange title and cover, and by the time the introduction movie had finished I knew that I would be purchasing this gem of a game.

The story is an archetype of video games: A bad guy snatches your girl and it is up to you to stop him. In this specific case, you are a boy with no skin who loves a girl who happens to be made of bandages, and the bad guy is a fetus in a jar wearing a tuxedo with a knack for flipping you off

But the brilliance of this game is not in the story; it is in the gameplay. Super Meat Boy is a platformer, and unlike scores of games that have come out recently, it is hard. Like, really hard, and this difficulty is a wonderful thing.The controls in Super Meat Boy are of a dream-like quality. Each and every death you face (and you will face thousands) feels like it is entirely your fault, which slightly enhances your focus, and eventually your rage. While most games give you a brief delay between deaths, SMB puts you right back in the action (at the beginning of a level, checkpoints are for n00bs) almost instantly, leading you to try again and again until your iron reflexes and quick wit eventually overcome buzzsaws, lazers, rockets, fire-slugs, and some flying enemies that look like poop.

For an arcade game, Super Meat Boy also has incredible depth. Scattered throughout the levels are hidden bandages, which unlock new characters if you can manage to get the bandage (which is always placed in a challenging spot) and then go on to complete the level. These unlockable characters all control differently (yet still sublimely) and have different abilities, such as double-jumping and rewinding time, which causes each character to bring a different feel to the game. Also included in a few levels are hidden warp zones, which are levels done in an 8-bit style that pay homage to classic games. All in all there are around 340ish levels in the main game, along with free DLC levels that get updated regularly (you don’t even have to download them, it’s magical). The bottom line is, this is a fantastic platformer that feels like an old game with all the bells and whistles of a new one. If you own an Xbox 360 (or a PC) and like platformers, you need this game. Period.

1 comment:

  1. Super Meat Boy... Super Mario Bros. SMB. Coincidence? I think not!