Super Meat Boy, And Why I Hate My Life
Sunday, April 10, 2011 6 Comments
Wrecked is happy to bring you our first-ever guest contribution, from Victor Matallana in Dublin, CA. Let him know if you liked his work by sounding off in the comments below!
Back in the day, we played real games. We played games that never forgave your mistakes. We didn’t have recharge health, or checkpoints, or aim assist. You fought tooth and nail from that first small pit to that final boss, where the difference between life and death was a single pixel. You played a game and it was hard and you lived with it.
This last New Year’s Eve, I had the joy of playing a game called Super Meat Boy on the Xbox Arcade, the sequel to Newgrounds.com’s flash-based Meat Boy released back in 2008. In case you were wondering, yes I was drunk when I bought it. What greeted me though was one of the most awesome gaming experiences I’ve had in years, the type of thing where you’re half asleep at 4 A.M. and still can’t take that step to turn the system off and get back to bed. Far from a basic platformer, playing this game is an epic journey through over 180 different levels, from an idyllic forest to the remains of a destroyed earth where you will evade missile launchers, flying saws, and gigantic piles of salt (fatal to meat people I guess).
Super Meat Boy comes with a simple story: Meat Boy is a boy made of meat and he loves Bandage Girl (a girl made of bandages). Then there’s Dr. Fetus, a fetus in a jar that wears a tuxedo with a bowler hat and monocle. No one loves him. Being the douche he is, he kidnaps Bandage Girl because he really hates Meat Boy. The story line is presented to you through cartoons that are fluidly animated. The characters don’t talk but ooze personality; Dr. Fetus will make sure to give you a middle finger whenever the situation requires while Meat Boy smiles and waves at the screen to show you his love. Not only that, but whenever you enter a world you are greeted with an intro from a classic game Super Meat Boyified. It’s awesome seeing Dr. Fetus punch Super Meat Boy in the face in an homage to Street Fighter II, or Super Meat Boy running to the gates of a gigantic salt factory, reminiscent of the intro to Castlevania.
For all that charm though, this game is hard. Really freaking hard. This is a game that requires finesse, precision, speed, and perfection. The controls are very simple, with a jump button and the R trigger to run, you will wall bounce your way to glory. Don’t kid yourself though, there is no room for mistake here as you jump off one wall to another, over and between two closely aligned saws hoping to land right on top that small block suspended over that gigantic pile of needles. “Fuck,” you’ll say under your breath, “How the hell am I supposed to beat this?!” You will though. You have to because it will haunt your dreams. Not only are these levels hard, they are full of tiny secrets and awesomeness to discover!
Inside some of the levels are small portals that if you get to, will send you into a level done in the style of graphics and levels that we experienced in old systems. I’m talking about things like the Amiga, Commodore, Atari, GameBoy, and more. In addition, some of these portals unlock new characters from classic indie games and levels based on where they come from. Some characters you might notice are Jill from Mighty Jill Off, Commander Video from bit.Trip Runner, and Hominid from Alien Hominid.
There are 13 characters in all counting Meat Boy, and all have different abilities. Meat Boy is really fast, while Jill can slow her fall. Commander Video can float, while Ogmo can double jump. Some of the characters are unlocked by collecting bandages in the levels, which are hidden in really hard to get to places. This is probably one of the only real problems I had with the game, as collecting one and dying means you have to go back to get it again. This leads to a really annoying cycle of dying over and over just because of the difficulty in getting a bandage. Using some of the other characters alleviates this to some extent, but I’ve noticed that you can’t complete some levels without Meat Boy because of his speed and size.
Beyond that though, the game was great, and all I’ve described here is half the game. After beating a level with an A rank, you can go back and play the level again in “Dark World,” which is kind of like an angry version of the actual game where all the worlds have been changed to be more difficult. Some levels have only small changes, but unlike the normal game where you can most likely beat it with persistence, Dark World is just hard. To this date, I’ve only done two of the six worlds in that other realm, and it wasn’t easy. If you can get to the end though, you do get to see the actual final boss and the real ending to the game, but it really isn’t for those not up to the challenge. And for those that complete all of THAT, a level added later known as “Teh Internets” adds even more worlds to this already expansive game.
All in all, this was a really good game and it was all for only 1200 points on XBLA ($15). It’s also being sold on Steam for those with a PC who would rather use a keyboard, and it comes with some exclusive characters as well, like the headcrab from Half-Life (awesome). So really, go and get this one, support indie development and get a damn fine game out of it too.
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