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Super Meat Boy (Xbox 360) artwork

Super Meat Boy (Xbox 360) review


"With its retro aesthetic and punishing difficulty, Super Meat Boy is the type of release that shakes things up and gets peopleís attention."



The appeal of Super Meat Boy (SMB) comes from tightly-fashioned platforming segments that become progressively difficult until theyíve plunged full-tilt into masochistic territory and thereís just no turning back. Team Meatís reliance on their slippery slab of meatís wall-clinging abilities and speedy movement, alongside a whoís who cast of fan favorites from a variety of great indie games, make this a must-own Xbox Live Arcade title that stacks up alongside the classics of the platforming genre. SMB shares more in common with Super Mario Bros. than even the familiar naming conventions initially suggest, recalling a time where every developer was on a mission to replicate Nintendoís timeless formula but very few of them succeeded in any meaningful or long-term capacity. SMB's different, though. It has come a long way from its origins on a lewd flash-based videogame site called Newgrounds (which also spawned a retail release for Alien Hominid, a game with a titular character who appears now in SMB in playable form).

Thereís a lot thatís right about SMB. It takes elements from a wide variety of platforming games and shoves them into an easily affordable package thatís already being updated with fresh, free content. This sets the sort of precedent that previously was unseen on Xbox Live Arcade, one thatís probably more familiar to PC gamers. Eventual patches have already supplemented the game's initial length so that the level count now sits at around 310 stages. Thereís so much to do in SMB that the game could literally keep you occupied for months.

Whether youíll be interested in playing it for any extended period of time remains to be seen. This game is crazy. Not just crazy because of its return to the ďgood old-days of difficult game designĒ sense, but crazy in a hardcore, meaty-balls-to-the-wall sort of way that actively inspires and encourages feelings of self-loathing. That's because everything is your fault. Youíve sent our hero through an endless series of meat grinding buzz-saws, sent him falling to his death after hundreds of poorly-planned jumps, and have even castrated Meat Boy by flinging him head-on into a laser beam. The moral here is youíre a huge asshole and you are terrible at videogames. Team Meatís given you all of the finesse needed to work your way around platforms, has provided you with complete control of the slippery slab of meat, so really, any problems you might have with SMB can be written off as user error. This is a brutal dynamic thatís rarely seen in todayís mainstream games, one that holds absolute adoration and simultaneously a level of contempt for its audience. It provides gamers with hours of entertaining gameplay but refuses to pick up the tab for the ensuing years of therapy that are likely to follow.

The game's demands are so overbearing that at some point that you canít help but allow it to affect your judgement of the game. As mentioned already, though, itís not the gameís fault that youíre incompetent.

The setup makes the beefy taste of victory that much sweeter. The satisfaction of finishing some of the later levels provides a greater sense of accomplishment than any in-game achievement system ever could. Perhaps the best part of the game is the highlight reel that showcases your failed attempts once you actually manage to complete a level. Consider the blood that quickly decorates the level as it is ejected from the insides of hundreds of deceased Meat Boys to be the SMB equivalent to Marioís pole dancing / firework celebration. Better yet, save your replay so that you can show off your incompetence at platforming games to your friends.

Thereís also a Super Mario Bros. 3-style level select screen, clearly organizing the gameís levels into zones and displaying the letter grades that youíve achieved on each of them. That screen also displays the number of bandages youíve collected, which are used to unlock a cavalcade of characters from similarly artsy, developed-against-the-market type games such as Braid, World of Goo, Bit.Trip.Runner, Alien Hominid, and a number of others. Anyone whoís ever experienced the peak of 2D games from either the 8 or 16-bit era will find everything about SMB absolutely irresistible.

With its retro aesthetic and punishing difficulty, Super Meat Boy is the type of release that shakes things up and gets peopleís attention. Itís not at all surprising that weíre already seeing a lineup of imitators. If thereís been a single Xbox Live Arcade game which points toward the future of 2D game design, itís SMB.

Rating: 9/10

Calvin's avatar
Freelance review by Calvin Kemph (April 02, 2011)

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Masters posted April 02, 2011:

Great review.

This in particular, is wonderful:

. Team Meatís given you all of the finesse needed to work your way around platforms, has provided you with complete control of the slippery slab of meat, so really, any problems you might have with SMB can be written off as user error. This is a brutal dynamic thatís rarely seen in todayís mainstream games, one that holds absolute adoration and simultaneously a level of contempt for its audience. It provides gamers with hours of entertaining gameplay but refuses to pick up the tab for the ensuing years of therapy that are likely to follow.
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zigfried posted April 02, 2011:

I'm a big fan of challenge and high expectations, but I'm not playing any game that requires years of therapy.

//Zig
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Masters posted April 02, 2011:

Ha yeah that's what Leroux was saying. The game is seriously hard as hell.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 02, 2011:

I was pretty terrified of this game at first, but I found it enjoyable in the end. It's hard, but not impossible.
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Halon posted April 02, 2011:

The thing about SMB is that it came out in the wrong era. People praise Contra, Metal Slug, shmups etc which are just as tough if not tougher. The controls are so good that the hundreds (if not more) of deaths never feel cheap and the game is pretty much always fun.

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