Thursday, December 2, 2010

Diary of a Meat Boy: Super Meat Boy Sort-Of Review

Team Meat's Super Meat Boy will make you shout, growl, swear, throw the controller and punch your cat, but you still need to play it.

It's another release that makes the phrase "indie game" synonymous with "super-difficult puzzle-platformer" in the style of Braid and N+ and others before it, but that doesn't lessen its impact or diminish the amount of fun you'll have playing it. It's mean, but it's rewarding, and the sheer depth of the gameplay available is enough to keep a completionist busy for weeks.

We're a bit far out from the game's release for an official review, so I decided that I'd just document my experience playing the game from start to finish. If you've played the game yourself, I hope that you recognize some of the peaks and valleys.

November 15

11:48 PM - Booting up Super Meat Boy for the first time. I've followed some but not all of the pre-release buzz for this game, so I know some of what to expect (2D platformer, difficult), but not all. Let's see what happens.

11:58 - Halfway through Chapter 1. Difficult, but rewardingly so. I can see how a person could waste hours just trying to match all of the time goals for the levels.

November 16

12:04 AM - The warp zones are almost games unto themselves. A mix of fun retro skins and different play styles.

12:10 - Chapter 1-18. Trying to get the bandage. Every sawblade is drenched with my meaty entrails.

12:17 - These replays are hilarious. An army of meat boys set out from the start, but only one makes it to the end.

12:24 - End of Chapter 1. My finger hurts from jamming down the right trigger so much. I think that's it for now.

9:02 PM - Time for another round!

9:07 - Oh god the dark world.

9:15 - Speed runs OR bandages. One can't approach both with the same mentality.

9:25 - Spent the last ten minutes getting ONE bandage. WAS IT WORTH IT?!

9:37 - Okay, all speed runs in Chapter 1 and its dark world done. Want to keep an achievement freak busy for years? Tell him there's one for getting through this game without dying.

9:45 - Mobile enemies? Really? This was bad enough when the levels were my only enemy.

9:50 - They give you JUST enough incentive to unlock new characters... It's a stroke of genius in a lot of ways. Not only do the different characters make the game play differently, they also promote other indie games.

9:52 - 399 deaths and right in the middle of Chapter 2. Wow.

November 17

11:38 PM - Back at it!

11:50 - I'm so used to just blowing through every level that I choke instantly every time the game calls for patience or precision.

November 18

12:09 AM End Chapter 2! I go back and forth on this game's style. There are lots of things to like, but it still has the thin, oily film of Newgrounds all over it. Not as bad as in Castle Crashers, but still.

12:19 - Okay clearly Chapter 2's dark world is where the game begins to separate the meat boys from the meat men.

12:31 - WARP ZOOOOONE!!!

1234 - First uncontrollable outburst of swearing thanks to a bandage in the Chapter 2 dark world's warp zone. Proud I made it this long, honestly.

12:37 - GOT IT, bitches!

12:42 - Lost it, bitches! Fuck this warp zone. Bedtime.

November 21

10:30 PM - It has been awhile.

10:43 - Chapter 3 ain't so bad compared to, say, any given dark world level.


10:57 - This factory used to be about SALT. Now it's all about GODDAMN HOMING MISSILES.

10:58 - I don't understand the levels where saw blades chase you. I dont need incentive to go faster!

11:08 - Oh, okay, a poop boss. I was wrong about this not being as juvenile as Castle Crashers.

11:11 It sucks because you know this game is going to make it on a bunch of year-end lists. Your dad thinks video games are a waste of time mostly because of poop bosses. I invite you to imagine every video game you can with a poop boss instead of a regular boss. Mega Man. Call of Duty (ha). Bioshock. Super Mario Bros. 3. Half life 2. I actually think that's how Episode 3 is going to end: The G-Man is a poop monster.

11:17 - My poop monster rant combined with the bitch that is Chapter 4-1 means it's time for a break!

November 25 

1:12 AM - Boy, my gaming habits are erratic. Gonna start with Chapter 2's dark world.

1:21 - Meat Boy, if you seemed to mind dying I'd be sorry about how often you were dying.


1:29 - Sometimes platforms dissolve when you really don't want them to dissolve.

1:32 - AND SOMETIMES THEY WONT DISSOLVE AND IT TOTALLY FUCKS YOUR FUCKING SPEED RUN. First bout of uncontrollable swearing of the night and first urge to throw controller through television arrived within seconds of one another.

1:37 - Every time I pick up a bandage there's a little guy in my head who starts whispering "choooooooke."

1:45 - Did 13 levels of this ridiculous dark world. Going back to regular world before I growl myself hoarse.

1:55 Uncle! Unlocked another character and made a dent in Chapter 4 - not bad, given that I'm up past my bedtime!

November 27 

9:31 AM - Okay guys, it's Saturday morning and I have to beat this game today. Let's settle in.

9:41 - It might be too early in the morning for precision platforming... Also, Chapter 4 is HARD.

9:46 - Man, shades of Portal.

10:00 - Every horrifying new obstacle makes me nostalgic for the previous horrifying obstacle.

10:10 - Chapter 4 complete, but at what cost?! Morale is low headed into the endgame.

10:46 - I have spent the last half hour or so simply in awe of Chapter 5. That I'm being punished for something has become clear.

11:02 - Chapter complete. HOW MUCH MORE IS THERE.

11:06 - Horrible sawblades
Often rend me asunder
Damn, Super Meat Boy

11:14 - This last chapter is something else. No gimmicks. No awful-obstacle-of-the-week. Just sawblades, platforms, and a healthy disdain for victory.

11:29 - I must have died at least a hundred times in that last level. Time to end this.

12:00 PM - I WIN! 1605 deaths, dear lord.

Team Meat's Super Meat Boy is currently available via Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points ($15), and for Windows via Valve's Steam service for $14.99. Releases for the Nintendo Wii, Mac OS X, and Linux are all planned for a future date.