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Super Meat Boy: Meated And Greeted

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EDIT: The following is based on extensive time spent with the 360 version of SMB, and we’re hearing reports that the PC version currently has memory leak and gamepad support issues. We’ll be posting a full review of the PC version very soon.

EDIT 2: We’ve spoken to Team Meat, and they tell us they’re working hard on an update to fix issues right now, which will be out today.

EDIT 3: Pow! Team Meat slurp into action.

Super Meat Boy is OUT, you know. You could be buying it over at Steam right the hell now with £11.99 of your (let’s face it) ill-gotten money. The only problem is, there’s no demo. This is me letting out a sigh like a shot from an air rifle.

Super Meat Boy is a steaming steak of brilliance, served with a rich, leathery wine with a label that reads Chateau Just One More Go. A demo will unquestionably result in Team Meat selling more copies, and the sooner it arrives the better. Until then, I suppose I’ll have to sell you this game with my trademark hyperbole. You got a minute? If so, let’s do this. You need Super Meat Boy in your life because…
…because it’s as perfect a distillation of platforming as I’ve ever played.

Let me just post the trailer again.

It’s very simple. If you take the core of platforming to be running, jumping and dodging enemies, what Super Meat Boy provides is a relentless travelator of running, jumping and dodging at its most tense. Once you’ve got past the first couple of worlds, you’re not jumping between platforms so much as skipping across tightropes. Most platformers allow for graceful, speedy high-level play. Super Meat Boy enforces it. Super Meat Boy points a 400 watt spotlight in your direction and tells you to dance.

Which would be the most frustrating thing in the world were it not for your flawless control over Meat Boy himself. There’s such flexibility contained within his jumps and slides, and the obstacles are so demanding that you can never, ever zone out. You can never enter a manoeuvre with the wrong amount of momentum or apply the wrong aftertouch, or you’re splattered. Every death-defying leap holds your attention in two hands, and every enemy is a sword of Damocles hovering over your skull. Finally reaching Bandage Girl at the end of each of SMB’s hundreds of levels, you feel sweaty, elated, heroic. And then the game drops another horrorlevel in front of you and you do it again, and again.

Actually, I tell a lie. When you finish one of Super Meat Boy’s levels you first get to watch a replay of your runthrough, except you don’t just watch the successful attempt, you watch all of your attempts simultaneously- a horde of tiny meatboys come bursting out of the level’s start point, and only one of them will ever make it to bandage girl. This is what you can see during parts of the above trailer. It’s poetic, it’s hilarious, it’s awesome, and it’s an extra lure to get you to finish a level even after you’ve gotten minced for the fiftieth time.

Still, those levels. Super Meat Boy is hugely generous with them, and they’re all beautifully designed. As much as I love VVVVVV, it was the work of a lazy afternoon to play that game through from start to finish. If you devote an afternoon to Super Meat Boy, the best you can hope for is to make a small dent in it. You’ll also come away laughing with a mouth full of metaphorical broken teeth, because there’s always a harder level waiting for you in Super Meat Boy, so you only tend to stop playing when you run out of determination. Which isn’t to say progress is linear. Between choosing to play Dark versions of completed levels, progressing through the official DLC worlds or continuing with the story, you can pick and choose your punishment.

Super Meat Boy’s difficulty won’t be for everyone, but if this description does have you salivating then you should absolutely head over to Steam right now and get to downloading. It was a long time coming, but this is one of the indie games of the year. When Team Meat do release a demo (grumble grumble), I’ll be letting you know.

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Quintin Smith

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