PAX impressions / Super Meat Boy

The premise of Super Meat Boy revolves around the touching love story between Meat Boy and bandage girl. One day, The nefarious Dr. Fetus (who is indeed a fetus in a jar full of formaldehyde dressed in a suit) steals your girl, and so begins your quest through over 300 levels to save the girl of your meaty dreams. The game closely resembles the ninja puzzle-platformer N, where you need to run & jump your way from point A to point B while a large quantity of various things try to kill you.

If you’re prone to swearing, you might not want to play Super Meat Boy in front of grandma. It’s a hard game. You’ve probably heard that part by now, but you have no idea. You might think you’re ready for it, but you have no idea. You have infinite lives, and trust me, you’re going to need all of them. The first level I played involved me getting somewhat lucky, so I beat it on the first try. This caused me to become somewhat confident in my abilities, which turned out to be rather unfounded.

My ego would soon take the walloping of a lifetime, as I proceeded to die around 75 times on the next level. Super Meat Boy is unapologetically unforgiving, as even the slightest miscalculation with your jumps will turn Meat Boy into a pile of mush instantaneously. A complete run of a level only takes between 2-10 seconds to finish, and reloading a level after death happens almost instantly, so the game isn’t exactly what you would call frustrating. If you die in Super Meat Boy, it’s entirely your fault, and it’s a matter of you getting better at the game rather than something the game did to make you die.

Further adding to the madness are the extreme versions of select levels. As if the game wasn’t hard enough, these dark world versions of the stages feature the same layout with about twice as many things ready and able to turn you into mincemeat at a moment’s notice. These levels verge on masochism, and anyone who is able to 100% this title should receive a gold medal from the International Olympic Committee.

Team Meat all met and cut their teeth at the online flash site Newgrounds.com, and the art style perfectly reflects their heritage. It definitely has a vibe similar to Castle Crashers developer The Behemoth, but the game also relishes in its own 8-bit sensibilities with its pixelated graphics and color palette.

Super Meat Boy is the definition of an indie title. Developer Team Meat consists of a level designer/artist, a programmer, a sound guy, a composer, and that’s it. You know it’s indie when four dudes made it. It might not sound like much, but by the time I got around to checking it out it had already received multiple Game of the Show nominations. This is the kind of game you where an expected ten minute session can turn into a seven-hour marathon well into the early hours of the morning when the game arrives this October on Xbox Live Arcade and November on WiiWare, Steam, and on various Apple platforms.

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