After almost five years, everyone's favourite meaty adventure is now available on PlayStation. Considering there's really nothing new to see, the question is; will it be worth picking up for newcomers to the world of meat?
Before we begin, I should mention that I played through Super Meat Boy on Xbox 360 when it first came out. Now that I've completed it again on PlayStation 4, I must say that I'm slightly disappointed that nothing noticeable has changed. Anyway, if you're unfamiliar with Super Meat Boy then let me go over the basics. It's played like your standard 2D platformer except you can jump off walls. Almost everything in sight is trying to kill you but thankfully the controls are super-tight which allows you to overcome seemingly impossible situations given some practice. Interesting hazards slowly get introduced such as force fields that repel you, homing missiles, and locked doors. Each stage can take a matter of seconds to beat but that usually only happens after dozens of attempts. Upon finally completing a stage, a replay showing all of your attempts simultaneously will make you shake your head at how many times you failed. That being said, it sure feels awesome to make any sort of progression.
On a visual level, Super Meat Boy's stages are clearly rendered with simplistic designs that help you focus on the gameplay. Meat Boy is quite small yet his animations are rather humorous such as the fact that he leaves a trail of blood everywhere he goes. I guess that's what he gets for being a skinless being made of raw meat. The sense of humour throughout his adventure is absolutely crazy as seen in the antics of his arch-enemy (Dr. Fetus) and the love of his life (Bandage Girl). Once he attempts to rescue Bandage Girl at the end of each stage, Dr. Fetus inevitably swoops in to snatch her up again. Many game references are made which add to the levity including allusions to Street Fighter II, Castlevania, Adventures of Lolo, Ninja Gaiden, and Mega Man 2. There's also a cast of unlockable cameo characters such as Commander Video, The Kid from I Wanna Be the Guy, Tim from Braid, and Alien Hominid. Overall, Super Meat Boy is a joy to play with graphics that don't get in the way of gameplay and oodles of hilarity that frequently arise.
One of the most impressive aspects of Super Meat Boy is the massive amount of content. The main campaign includes five chapters that are broken up into twenty stages and a boss fight each as well as a final chapter that has five stages and a boss. Once you work your way through all of that (which will take quite a while), you unlock an extra chapter where you play as Bandage Girl. Although that chapter is extremely difficult, you also gain access to more challenging versions of each stage (known as the dark world) once you beat the original versions in under the par time. On top of all this, some stages have a hidden bandage to collect and warp zones to discover. These warp zones are styled like retro games and some of them unlock new playable characters once you pass them. In the end, if the incredibly challenging campaign isn't enough then there's a great deal of supplementary content that'll keep you busy for weeks.
Considering Super Meat Boy came out five years ago, it's no longer the hardest game around. Sure, it's tough, but I remember it being a lot more difficult back then. It probably has something to do with indie games becoming more challenging over the years, but I digress. Probably the biggest downside to Super Meat Boy is that too much memorization is required, especially in the later stages. I'd be surprised if anyone beat any of these stages on their first attempt since knowing what to do in each situation regularly requires too much practice, trial, and error. This forced memorization and repetition will get on your nerves after playing for too long at a time. You could tell yourself to just put it down and pick it up later, but it's such an addictive game that it's actually a hard thing to do. Also, the core gameplay doesn't change much at all. Aside from the handful of interesting obstacles that get introduced, you're basically just running and jumping around. If there were some stages that incorporated different mechanics then it wouldn't feel as repetitive as it does.
Super Meat Boy is a classic game in every sense of the term. If you haven't played it yet and you enjoy challenging 2D platformers then what are you waiting for? Pick up a controller and start playing with your meat!
- + Solid 2D platform gameplay with tight controls and challenging situations
- + Plenty of content will keep you coming back
- + Crazy sense of humour and references galore
- - Later stages require too much memorization which makes them very repetitive
- - The core gameplay remains the same throughout and could use more variety