Critical Hit: Super Meat Boy
Quick Breakdown: A super hard -yet delightful- 2D platformer.
Length: 10 hours (Main game)
Super Meat Boy is a platformer of the simple but hard variety. You play as Meat Boy, trying to rescue your love, Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr. Fetus. Gameplay isn’t much more complex than the story. You move left and right, there’s a button to jump, and another button that you hold to run (which also allows you jump further).
Speaking of the controls, the game is frankly awful to play with a keyboard. So if you are playing this on PC like I did, then I highly recommend getting an X-Box 360 controller for Windows and using that instead. This game is also available for X-Box 360.
The elevator was broken, so I have to climb this goddamn shaft.
Anyhow, let’s get back the game itself. As mentioned, it’s not too complicated. You run and jump, you can wall kick, and you try not to die. Which you will do anyway. A lot. See, this game likes to kill you in one hit. Fall off an edge? You die. Jump into a saw blade? Shredded to bits and dead. Lasers? Kiiiiill yooooou. Missiles? Kaboom! And your life is gone! Salt? One grain will ruin your cholesterol levels!
I'm not kidding when I say salt is bad for your health.
You get the idea, everything will kill you. When you finally manage to overcome death and beat the level you’re treated to a replay featuring all of your attempts to complete the bloody thing simultaneously. These replays are quite enjoyable to watch, seeing your many meaty selves fall to the ground while only one manages to successfully reach Bandage Girl at the end of the stage.
Go Meat Commandos!
For all the game’s difficulty, it never really seems unfair. You can plainly see what’s coming almost the entire time, and the occasional difficulty spike from a surprise is one that can be overcome quickly (discounting of course the ensuing difficulty of beating the level once you do know what’s coming). Blind jumps are thankfully all but non-existent in the game. It wasn’t until I was well into the game on chapter 5 or 6 when I took a jump and thought “Gee, really don’t like that I have to take a blind jump here,” that I realized this was a problem I had not encountered up to this point and didn’t again that I can recall. So for all the times you die, it does seem fair, which helps the game not be so frustrating after several dozen or more deaths on a single stage.
In addition to the basic objective of the game, one can also collect bandages scattered throughout some of the levels. This serves as both an additional challenge and a way to unlock some bonus characters (which I’ve not really taken the time to try). Each level also has a par time for you to aim to complete it in: do so fast enough and you unlock the dark world version of the level which serves as a hard mode. Scattered throughout the levels are also a small number of retro warp zones, which kick things a little more old school, and are again mostly there for a little extra challenge, though some also feature new characters that you unlock upon completing them.
Special mention needs to be made of the music in this game, which is really, really great. It’s chip music reminiscent of the platformers of yore, and it’s fantastic.
Devil N Bass
Now, while the game starts off on a strong note in all the departments of its strengths, I think it’s worth noting that in chapter 4 everything takes a noticeable uptick for the better. This is where the difficulty gets kicked up a notch, and the hard-as-balls platforming is even more noteworthy for its difficulty. More importantly the level design itself becomes notably stronger, and it wasn’t slouching to begin with. The same is true for the soundtrack, which again, I’d like to impress upon you is really quite good.
The main game itself will probably take you around 10 hours to beat. I confess, while I’ve managed to finish the main game without issue, I’ve not been able to complete all of the bonus stages or dark world stages. Some of them are really, really hard. I do intend to play more of this game, but I’m not actually certain I’ll be able to finish every level. So I’m not sure how long it’d take to 100% this game, none-the-less, I’ve certainly got my money’s worth and had a blast with what I have done already.
The main criticism I have for the game is issues with frequent crashes. There’s really no good reason for this: while I’m not running a top of the line gaming rig, I do have a gaming computer that’s able to handle most games on the current market without issue, so a low spec game like this shouldn’t be tripping it up. This is an issue that’s managed to persist on two different computers, on both 64-bit Windows 7 and 64-bit Windows 8. Other than that, well, the keyboard really does suck for this game, and you are best off getting a 360 controller to play it.
In the end though, this game is a must have for fans of platformers, especially those with an affinity for the super difficult ones. And since the game often goes on sale for pretty darn cheap, you really have no reason not to pick this up.
Ooooooooh shiiiiiit! Run away!
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