Parent Talk: Super Meat Boy is filled with crude humor and silly jokes, and the profanity will definitely be as a red flag to parents. The dialogue is intended for teenage ears. The premise is similar to classic games like Super Mario Bros., but the fact that the main character is a boy made out of meat that can be sprayed over the screen like confetti makes for a cartoonish and odd experience.
SMB pays homage to platformers from the NES days and to classic gaming in general, all wrapped in a package of [oddball] comedy. The focus is to guide Meat Boy through dozens of small, deadly stages and rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl. The mechanics are simple, but the game is everything but easy. You’re eased in at first, but the stages quickly ramp up the difficulty.
Solid platforming. Super Meat Boy is a cool and clever platforming game. There is a variety of levels, spanning multiple areas. Each area has a “Light” and “Dark” World section, with the DW being the more sinister interpretation. There are also hidden warp zones to find, bandages to collect, and extra characters to unlock. But the core of the game is a fun and simple platformer. Levels are incredibly brief, but also require precision and skill to complete. Some may requires dozens and dozens of attempts before completing, especially later on.
+ Awesome soundtrack. Super Meat Boy is a serious contender for best music for 2010. It goes beyond competing with just other download games; SMB easily outdoes most retail games. The selection is an assortment of rocking chiptune themes and excellent guitar playing. It’s on the same level as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game in terms of awesome-ness.
+ Challenging. SMB is extremely difficult, bordering on throw-your-controller-against-a-wall frustration. Finishing levels, especially after achieving an A+ and collecting the item, is incredibly satisfying. The stages are also creative, so rather than tire the player out, they usually propel the challenge forward.
+ Creative levels. The stage designs are really interesting. There are standard traps like fire and buzz saws, but the arrangement of platforms and implementation of hazards is unique. The levels always appear impossible, but merely require a specific pathway to navigate or a particular strategy to employ. It’s difficult either way, but each stage highlights a clearly identified path. There are collectible items (bandages) and warp zones as well, the latter of which contain their own unique levels.
+ Game references. Super Meat Boy is a love letter to 8 and 16-bit gaming. There are dozens of references to classic games, either in the title screens or levels. For example, some of the title screens reflect Street Fighter II and Mega Man II. The warp zones, on the other hand, are a callback to old-school gaming platforms. Some even appear in the same green and block color palette like an original Game Boy game, or look ripped from the Atari era. It’s a cool touch that makes the game especially appealing to retro game enthusiasts.
+ Humor. The over-the-top violence and Meat Boy’s expressions are hilarious. Poor ol’ Meat Boy is working so hard to rescue Bandage Girl, but he knows everyone loves him. People who appreciate this kind of humor will love the game.
– Sometimes TOO challenging. SMB is tough, so much that it’s occasionally more frustrating than fun. Your patience level will determine how you like the game. Some just won’t be able to handle the demands. The beginning levels are a snap for most seasoned players, and even those in the middle are tolerable, but the Dark World stages are the epitome of gaming frustration.
– Tough control. The controls are tight and responsive, but helping Meat Boy win can be a chore. Not only is he really fast, but also tiny and slippery. It takes some practice to manipulate him. The other characters handle slightly different according to their abilities, The Kid from I Wanna Be the Guy can double jump, while Gish clings to walls. The sprites are so small and the action so fast that it can become painful to keep track of it all. It would be much nicer if the 360 controller was equipped with a better D-pad, but the analog stick also works fine.
SMB is really, really hard, but fun and full of replay value. This is a must-download for fans of platforming and retro games.