Not for the feint of heart.
Super Meat Boy is a 2D platformer with a difficulty level that will cause some to scream in anger over and over again and yet it's utterly amazing in its execution. The premise is very short and simple. Meat Boy is our hero, a little squishy square of meat, his girlfriend, Bandage girl is kidnapped by the evil Dr. Fetus who is a fetus in a sort of biomechanical suit who because no one loves him steals away bandage girl and Meat boy is out to save the day. The cutscenes on this do many spoofs of popular games such as Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden. The game not only enjoys poking fun at old 2D platformers but is also excited to be one.
Levels are short and sweet with no checkpoints. A series of obstacles lie between Meat Boy and Bandage girl, reach the end and Dr. Fetus snatches up Bandage Girl to take her to the next stage. Meat Boy has no attacks and is dead in one hit. However he can run, jump and stick to the sides of walls for a short time. Imagine if you combined the jumping of Mario, the speed of Sonic and the insane difficulty of Ghosts N' Gobblins and you'd get Super Meat Boy. And I will say this now. You will DIE...a lot...repeatedly. This is game is thumb blistering, controller smashing, tooth gnashing, throw your controller at the TV and come back for more because we're b*&^%es sort of gameplay that makes Donkey Kong Country Returns look like a walk in the park. At least in DKCR you can occasionally blame a death rolling when you meant to ground pound because Nintendo didn't want to include cla$$ic controller support. SMB doesn't have that excuse because the controls are tight and precise. Levels are all about pinpoint timing and momentum. So if you don't like being challenged to this degree then I suggest staying away.
Just surviving the main game is challenging enough but the game offers extra challenge for the totally insane. Mainly in many stages are band aids which you can collect to unlock certain goodies as well as hidden warp zone areas which sometimes teleport our squishy hero into an 8bit series of secret levels. Now unlike in DKCR where if you collect a puzzle piece then die you get to keep it, SMB isn't even forgiving in that aspect, you have to get the bandage and still get to Bandage Girl without dying. Collecting bandages of course unlocks various goodies in the form of other playable pals from other indie games we have reviewed here such as Commander Video from the Bit.Trip series and Tim from Braid. PC owners of the game also know about Peta's evil doppleganger they created "Super Tofu Boy" who the devs liked enough to include in that version. Oh and then there's the dark world, which are even harder versions of past levels you visited if you didn't think the main game is challenging enough. Seriously if you get 100% on this game, I salute you.
Visually the game has a great minimalist approach. Meat Boy travels through forests, hospital, factory and even hell itself and each level has it's own set of dangerous pitfals. Blades will slice you, spikes will impale you, guns will lock onto you and somehow salt is deadly to Meat Boy...I'm not sure how that works because I thought salt was used to cure meat to make it last longer. Also with an excellent soundtrack with a mix of metal and 8bit tunes though I found the opening title screen a bit obnoxiously loud.
So do I recommend this game? Yes, but only if you're prepared for a lot of challenge and frustration.