Super Meat Boy Review for Xbox 360

Super Meat Boy Review for Xbox 360

Glad to meat you

Super Meat Boy will punch you in the gut. Not just once though. In fact, before the experience is over, Super Meat Boy will destroy you several thousand times. But don’t let that scare you. Sure, Meat Boy is frustrating at times, but it’s also a really great platformer with an amazing sense of humor.

Super Meat Boy screenshot

Veterans of the classic flash game N (later ported to Xbox Live Arcade as “N+”) will find Super Meat Boy instantly familiar. If super difficult 2D shooters can be called “bullet hell shooters,” then Super Meat Boy could likely be called a “saw hell platformer.” Horrendous deaths and obstacles stand in Meat Boy’s path everywhere he goes, but with a little luck and a heaping dose of dexterity there’s nothing you can’t help him accomplish.

The aforementioned saws are a signature obstacle throughout Super Meat Boy, and they lead to very quick, grim deaths. Just a single touch and these spinning blades will slice through Meat Boy, splattering his meaty chunks across the level. In a nice graphical touch, the blood from each of your deaths remains on the level even after you die. It’s neat to see a level completely soaked in your blood after you’ve died 50+ times on a tough level.

And yes, no matter how skilled you are at platformers, you will absolutely die hundreds of times. This is simultaneously Super Meat Boy’s most endearing quality and it’s most frustrating fault. Sometimes your deaths are fun, even hysterical. Flying out of control into a saw blade is just plain funny (doing it fifty times is even funnier). But some of Super Meat Boy’s levels aren’t just difficult; they’re practically impossible to complete without dying at least a half-dozen times. There are often tricks that you couldn’t possibly know until they kill you. This kind of cheap difficulty is anathema to a fun platforming experience, and its (limited) presence in Super Meat Boy is most unwelcome.

Super Meat Boy screenshot

But those types of levels aren’t common. And when they rear their ugly head, it usually only results in a few unwelcome deaths and then you move on. The reason it’s not such a big deal is because SMB has wonderfully fast load times. After you die, it only takes a matter of seconds before you are loaded back at the beginning of the level for another try. I can’t understate how important it was for them to nail this aspect of the game, and luckily they did it perfectly. If the load times were long then dying would be maddening. Each death would be a punishment, and an exile back to the purgatory of load screens. Instead, each death is a learning experience and a chance to try again with fresh eyes.

SMB’s greatest strength are its levels. Each location takes place in one of six distinct worlds with unique obstacles and challenges. There are over 100 levels just in the “light world” section of the game. Then the experience flips to the “dark world,” which features even more difficult versions of each level. It’s not required, but if you’re some kind of masochist you might enjoy trudging through the dark world.

Super Meat Boy screenshot

Each level is lovingly rendered as an homage to the days of classic 2D platformers. The whole experience is pixelated just like old 16-bit games, but still looks great and possesses a lot of great detail. Between each new world, players are treated to short vignettes featuring a clash of the game’s protagonist and antagonist, Super Meat Boy vs. Dr. Fetus. These scenes are more than just entertaining. They’re absolutely hilarious. I’ve rarely said that about a video game before, but SMB is genuinely funny. In just about every one of these cutscenes I found myself laughing out loud. This sense of humor is crucial to the game since you’ll likely feel like a depressed failure if you spend too long playing.

These vignettes are accompanied by a signature boss battle at the end of a set of levels. Each of the six stages has a unique boss to fight. Most of them are not direct fights against the creature, but rather contests or races. One boss, for instance, is a giant chainsaw-wielding mech who chases you through a level. In essence, it’s very similar to a normal SMB level, except now there are time constraints.

Super Meat Boy screenshot

Not all of these fights are quality though. One boss in particular frustrated the heck out of me. You’re on a platform trying to avoid his strikes (he’s a giant monster standing over you). He strikes in a pattern, but there’s no way to know what’s coming next. The only solution is to try to get as far as you can, then memorize the pattern bit by bit to get further each time. This is the opposite of skill-based platforming, and it’s fortunate for SMB that this is only one level. But an annoying one, nonetheless.

The scenes have very little audio since all the characters are mute, but they’re well animated and each character manages to speak volumes without ever opening his mouth. The audio during gameplay isn’t quite as good though. Classic platformers have long been renowned for their great soundtracks, but SMB doesn’t quite live up to this standard. None of the tunes are particularly memorable, but at the same time none of them are obnoxious.

There’s not a lot to say about the failures of SMB. The game seems to have a relatively modest goal, but they really nailed what they were attempting. This is a quality platformer with a super high level of difficulty. Faults in a game often come from a developer who is trying to do too much with too few resources or too little time. Super Meat Boy has been in development for a long time, and it seems as though Team Meat had very realistic aims.

Super Meat Boy is the latest in another year of quality titles on Xbox Live Arcade and anybody with even a passing interest in platforming should give it a try. It’s a game that countless people are going to be talking about, and you won’t want to miss out. The whole production is high quality, but don’t expect it to revolutionize the way you see platformers. This game doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel; it’s merely the latest quality interpretation.

The graphics are very attractive if not particularly awe-inspiring. They’re inspired by classic 16-bit games. 4.2 Control
The turbo button is mapped to the shoulder buttons which can tire your hands over time. Otherwise the control is great. 3.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
None of the songs are particularly memorable, but they’re not obnoxious either. This is fine by us. 4.5 Play Value
There’s a lot of value packed in this little package. It will take you hours upon hours just to beat the light world, and likely dozens more to master the dark world. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Stop the evil Dr. Fetus from capturing the fair damsel Bandage Girl!
  • Jump and slide through over 100 levels of insane platforming. Saws, lazers, missiles, and worst of all –salt!– will try to take you out.
  • View the hilarious misadventures of Super Meat Boy via well-made cutscenes between each zone.
  • Compete with your friends. Try to beat their best times on Xbox Live.

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