Developer: Team Meat
Publisher: Team Meat
Release Date: 11/01/2018
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation Vita, PC, Mac, Linux
Let’s face it, you’ve probably already heard of Super Meat Boy – not only because it spiralled to fame from featuring in Indie Game: The Movie (which is well worth a watch might I add), but also because it just so happens to be an excellent game that has a huge fan base.
Despite being around for a good few years now (and with a sequel in the pipeline) it’s recently launched on the Nintendo Switch, giving it a new lease of life and also giving anyone who skipped it the first time around the chance to play it on the go. It’s actually worked out well for me; shamefully, I never finished the game when it originally launched, but I’ve finally been able to rectify that.
It was bloody tough though, but a good tough. A very, VERY good tough in fact…
Whilst it’s easy to look at Super Meat Boy as just another tough platformer, there’s actually a point to the adventure. You take on the role of the titular Meat Boy as he looks to rescue his girlfriend (the beautiful Bandage Girl) from the nefarious Dr. Fetus. Yeah, it sounds bizarre, and it absolutely is.
Everything is told through cutscenes with no talking, but it’s not difficult to see that it’s a dark little tale. It’s thoroughly entertaining though and fits in well with the whole ‘brutal’ theme of the gameplay – seeing a harmless little squirrel get wiped out by a wayward saw whilst grieving over his dead brethren shouldn’t have made me laugh (but it did), whilst Meat Boy’s grim approach to finally taking care of the vanquished boss C.H.A.D. also got a chuckle out of me too…
The gameplay itself is very simple, adopting the age old mantra of being ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’. Everything is controlled with two buttons: one for jumping and one for dashing. Using these together, you’ll run, jump, dash, and bounce your way across a wide range of levels (over 300) that have been designed to push the player’s skills to the absolute limit. There’ll be the likes of vicious saws, deadly enemies, perilous spikes, and devastating liquids to cause you harm throughout your adventure though, and believe me, you can expect to meet your end quite a lot.
The game is designed around shorter levels which you can typically complete in around fifteen seconds. There are some longer ones that’ll take a bit of work to get through, but for the most part you shouldn’t ever expect to spend over a minute in any one level. Of course, there are plenty of collectibles to find like the hidden bandages or special warp zones too, so zooming through stages care-free isn’t always the best option – it’s an approach that’s easy to take though when you consider one lapse in concentration could mean death.
When you reach the end of a world, you’ll face off against a boss in what is typically an epic battle of cat and mouse. These levels are a lot of fun and often come in different phases, meaning you’ve got to swiftly learn the ins and outs of each boss’ changing routine in order to conquer them. They add a fun bit of variety to the experience though, and whilst they were undoubtedly tough, I always looked forward to seeing what Super Meat Boy would put me up against next.
So Super Meat Boy is a hell of a hard game, but never in an unfair way. You’re given all the means to a complete a level, and yes, sometimes you’ll need pinpoint accuracy in everything you do if you want to succeed, but the game never puts you in an unfair situation – you just need to master the controls and the in-game physics. It’ll take a lot of practice though, and believe me, some levels will have you tearing your hair out. When you finally complete that level that’s just had you in a fit of rage for the last thirty minutes though, you won’t be able to help but feel mightily satisfied with yourself. That is, of course, until you reach the next brutally difficult level…
You’re not going to run out of levels to complete in Super Meat Boy fast though, with over 300 available in total. Some of these are the Dark World variants of standard levels, which take the original layout and ramp up the difficulty to eleven by throwing all new brutal obstacles your way. I started to think I was getting good at the game before I faced off against the Dark World – I slowly became more humble when the constant deaths saw me eventually give up on them… for now.
Besides the extra Dark World levels, there are also the Warp Zones which take you to levels that are themed around retro games and other indie titles. These Warp Zones are hidden in plain sight and can be tricky to reach, but it’s worth seeking every one of them out – they often reward you with some neat unlockables.
There are challenges in place to beat levels in a specific time, plenty of bandages to uncover, and also neat new characters to unlock too, so you can expect to be playing Super Meat Boy for some time. The Nintendo Switch release also gets an all-new race mode, which allows you to compete against friends in split-screen multiplayer action as you try to finish levels as quickly as possible. It adds a whole new way to play the game – plus, sharing your constant failures with one another will certainly offer plenty of laughs.
It’s so easy to recommend Super Meat Boy to Nintendo Switch owners, regardless of whether or not they’ve played the game before. The tough-but-fair platforming action still feels as great to play as it did when it launched in 2010, there’s a hell of a lot of content to keep you coming back for more time and time again (and believe me, it’ll take a while for that ‘one last go’ on levels to come around), whilst the additional Race Mode adds a whole new way to experience the whole thing. It’s just bloody brilliant and, even after all these years, it remains a must-own title for any platform.