Super Meat Boy Hands-On Impressions

Ridiculous and charming collide in this upcoming 2D platformer.

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At some point in time, you may have been playing a 2D platformer and thought to yourself, "Sure this character is cool and all, but I'd much rather be playing as a gooey blob of meat." And that would make you weird--really weird. But there's good news! A new 2D platformer is on the way called Super Meat Boy, a tough-as-nails side-scroller that has you playing as an impossibly adorable chunk of meat over the course of 300 bite-sized levels.

With a retro art style and unabashed devotion to the absurd (the villain is a fetus in a tuxedo), Super Meat Boy looks like a very interesting entry in the world of downloadable games. We played the WiiWare version, and it controlled very simply: hold the remote sideways, use the directional pad to move, and use the 1 and 2 buttons to run and jump. The game has a sort of N+ feel to it, with relatively small levels that are designed to be beaten very quickly and in rapid succession. A variety of dangers face you, ranging from spinning saw blades to even bigger spinning saw blades. The result of coming into contact with these things is about what you'd expect.

Super Meat Boy is divided into five different chapters, each of which offers 20 standard levels. Since the game is all about speed, you're graded on a par finishing time, and if you beat that, you'll unlock a special advanced difficulty version of that level outfitted with even more hazards. Each chapter will also offer up a number of warp points that punctuate the normal levels with a quick detour to a world of yet more retro gaming nostalgia. We got to see the charmingly prehistoric Atari world, while one of the others you can visit is a love letter to the green and gray hues of the original Game Boy.

Though the difficulty level is designed to ramp up quickly, you've got a few weapons on your side in the form of unlockable characters with differing abilities. So while Meat Boy might have speed and agility on his side as the default character, you can unlock Commander Video from the Bit.Trip series (that series' developer is good friends with Team Meat), who can jump and float in the air much like Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2. Other cameos from the indie gaming scene will decorate the character select screen as well, including heroes from Braid and Alien Hominid, to name a few.

Dr. Fetus is not a villain to be trifled with. Just kidding! He's a fetus. Go ahead and trifle.
Dr. Fetus is not a villain to be trifled with. Just kidding! He's a fetus. Go ahead and trifle.

Capping off all of this is a level editor that will let you create and tweak your own deadly 2D meat pulverizers. The whole package looks like it should offer up quite a bit of eccentric, twitch-reflex platforming. You can expect to see Super Meat Boy arrive later this year on WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade, and PC.

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