22 November 2010

Super Meat Boy - Review

I wish I had set up a camera to film myself playing Super Meat Boy, capturing every expression of anger, laughter and elation. Alas, I did not but if I had I could have simply posted it right here and be done with the review. In retrospect it seems incredible that such a small game can create such a diverse experience and elicit a wide range of emotions.

Let it be known then, that Super Meat Boy is hard. It may appear to be just an old-school platformer, simply asking you reach your kidnapped girlfriend at the end of each level – avoiding various death traps along the way. These levels may begin ridiculously easy but soon enough the challenge starts to build until you reach the stage of expletives and controller snapping frustration. However, the game is immaculately paced, each stage perfectly constructed with steady increases in difficulty. This ensures that you are introduced to new gameplay devices and hazards at a favourable rate and also have the opportunity to learn their intricacies before the game throws a huge curve ball and reintroduces them in seemingly impossible scenarios. A glance at the game’s abstract and devilish ‘Dark World’, which offers an even harder reimagining of almost every level may initially seem impossible to traverse. Yet, with time, and patience, and a whole lot of cursing, navigating each level becomes second nature. You master the perfectly precise controls, recognise and avoid threats in a single movement and string together record times. Erupting with exuberant cheers as you realise you did all this and grabbed the level’s fiendishly placed bandage collectable.

Those moments make Super Meat Boy a game that has to be played. It’s all wonderfully brought together by hilarious cut scenes and a retro themed storyline; with nods to the classic video games we grew up playing and ‘warp zones’ that recreate what the Super Meat Boy of the 8-bit era would have been. In addition, extra playable characters from other indie titles offer a variety of ways to tackle levels as each has their own unique skill. There’s a great deal to get from Super Meat Boy and those of a casual disposition will find a vast amount of enjoyment in the game’s main levels. However, if you are up for the crushing difficulty, Super Meat Boy is waiting – along with the temptation of a 100% completion achievement...

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