Super Meat Boy
Review by Bill Wood
"An incredibly rewarding 2D platforming experience"
Fact: If you play Super Meat Boy long enough, you will eventually hit a point where you feel your skill can't take you any further. You may become discouraged, even frustrated. But if you continue playing you will surpass this self-imagined plateau, taking yourself to heights you previously thought unreachable. It is this exact combination of futility and ecstasy that makes Super Meat Boy such an incredibly rewarding experience, and one of best traditional platformers available on any console.
Let's ignore the retro visuals, the bumpin' soundtrack and the eternal videogame tale about the boy rescuing the maiden. Instead let's focus on what SMB is really about: the gameplay. You will die many, many deaths in this game, but the precise controls mean that these deaths are never cheap. If you die it's your own fault, even when a level throws a seemingly endless amount of destruction in your path. The controls are instantly reminiscent of another classic platformer that shares the same initials, with the added feature of nearly spotless wall-sliding and wall-jumping mechanics. Mastery of these two mechanics -- and just about every other traditional platforming technique -- is essential to completing the task set before you and eventually beating the game. You'll surprise yourself with what you can do control-wise. With a bit of practice, you can even pull back on those tricky jumps and live to make another leap.
Even with the near-perfect controls, there will be times when you feel overwhelmed by a certain level. For example, one of the levels near the end of the game probably cost me 500 lives and a couple of hours. But as you learn and adapt, you begin to consistently nail jumps you told yourself only minutes ago were impossible, and finally clearing that tough level is a fist-pumping rush that few other games can provide. And even if you're a 2D platforming guru, there is something here to challenge you -- nearly every level has a corresponding "Dark World" level that ups the ante, and you'll have plenty of secret characters, warp zones and glitch levels to discover.
When Super Meat Boy was first released, I wanted to dismiss it as a thoughtless "we dare you to beat this" type of experience. As it turns out it's anything but, it's obvious the game is a labor of love, an amazing salute to an earlier era, and there's so much reward here that it's difficult to find fault. I've never given a game perfect "10," but SMB has moved so far up my all-time list it's hard to not consider it one of the best videogames I've ever laid hands on. I can't recommend it enough.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/04/11
Game Release: Super Meat Boy (US, 10/20/10)
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