Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy Cover
Platforms Windows, OSX, Linux, XBLA
Genre Pathological platformer
Buy from Steam

Our second Indie Impression is of Super Meat Boy, the 2010 platformer from Team Meat. Known for its sadistic level design and smooth gameplay, Super Meat Boy has grown into a huge hit that's spread beyond the indie community, selling more than one million copies across all PC platforms and Xbox Live Arcade. We've got four impressions for that range from a few minutes to completing the game 100%, which is pretty much exactly how I envisioned this column working out. Greg was going to provide impressions also, but decided that since he ended up beating the game in about a week, he's going to provide a full review in the coming days.


I never started writing a Super Meat Boy review because I would never be able to stop: I can't gush enough about this indie phenomenon. Super Meat Boy was the best game I played last year (and I played a ton) and may be the best pure 2D platformer I've ever played. If you enjoy games where you run and jump, it is imperative that you try Super Meat Boy.

That is, of course, if you have an Xbox 360, a suitable PC, or a shiny new Mac. My only qualm with Super Meat Boy is that it requires a lot more computing power than I thought it would. What looks like a souped-up Flash game is unplayable on my toddler-aged MacBook Pro unless I crank down the detail to rock bottom, and even then some serious technical hitches crop up when things get especially busy near the end of the game. Sure, it's a Mac and I deserve frustration and torment for actually trying to play games on it, but you'd be surprised what PCs wouldn't be able to run the game at a suitable clip (and "suitable" for this game is no less than sixty FPS).

But none of that matters because you should buy it anyway. Even if your most advanced computing device is a toaster oven, you should throw some money Team Meat's way for scaling Mount Olympus and returning with the video game that the gods tried to keep for themselves. That effort is easily worth fifteen bucks.

Super Meat boy Laser Death


At the end of almost every castle in Super Mario Bros., Mario is thanked for all of his hard platforming work, but then receives the bad news that Princess Toadstool is actually in another castle. It’s a bummer, but it keeps you going. Imagine instead if the princess was there every time, right before your Italian eyes, but before you could take her hand, Bowser kicked her in the stomach or punched her lights out or did something even worse than that, which I will not put into words. Sounds horrific, right? Well, that’s how Super Meat Boy plays things. It’s sadistic and hilarious all at once.

Before I go any further, let me state that I played Super Meat Boy for about 15 to 20 minutes, clearing all the levels in the first world known as The Forest. I used my laptop’s keyboard instead of a gamepad. My stats show that I died a total of 54 times and earned a 6% completion rating. I did pretty well for a while, but turned the game off after trying to beat the first boss I came across—Lil Slugger—only to discover I couldn’t get the timing right when it came to vanishing walls over spinning sawblades, and the lack of a checkpoint system made replaying the stage over and over tedious.

Meat Boy loves Bandage Girl, and Bandage Girl loves Meat Boy. Dr. Fetus hates everyone, but none more than Meat Boy. Why? We don’t really know that just yet. Jealousy is probably a factor as Meat Boy is fully realized while Dr. Fetus is…um, well, he is whatever he is. As previously mentioned, it’s a darker take on Super Mario Bros., but it’s still nice to have a reason for all this jumping, wall-sliding, and dying. I liked how fast and fluid everything was in Super Meat Boy, from the cutscenes to the controls to respawning immediately upon death. I can see why many like it, as well as why many can’t keep up. I fall into the latter pile, as the challenge can be masochistic at times, but for those that persevere and overcome, the feeling must be exhilarating. May the meat be with them.

Super Meat boy saw Death


I played Super Meat Boy both on the Xbox 360 and the PC. On the PC, I played it with keyboard controls. It mentions during the loading screen that a control pad is the best way to play it and having tried both, I definitely have to agree. I certainly wouldn't say it's unplayable on a keyboard but my coordination is such that my thumbs work in unison much better than my index fingers. In both cases though, I found the controls to be incredibly tight, which, if you play this game, you'll know is of the utmost importance. Being that it is a hyper platformer (meaning super short levels with very twitchy gameplay) I really think they nailed the controls. You simply can't design levels to the razors edge without them and there are really some finely tuned levels to be had here.

I have to say that while the game eventually gets into the "wildly difficult" arena, I thought the ramp up was just a little slow. I thought most all the levels in the first stage (The Forest) were pretty easy yet I found the final level to be quite difficult, particularly on the keyboard. I recall playing the demo quite some time ago and the levels presented there were of a pretty wide variety of difficulty. I think that the controls are so tight, and the concept so approachable, that they could easily spin up the difficulty a bit faster. However, that might mean the end game comes sooner than they want and I think people want to feel like they get their moneys worth. I would say that they could also make some of the easier levels a bit longer. A 5 second level is barely worth the splash screens and load times, which are admittedly very short. The respawn rate is almost instantaneous which makes this type of "try & die" game design much more palatable. Unlike a game like Knights Contract, I didn't mind retrying a board (it's been a long time since I used that word to describe a level in a game but in this game I feel it's truly appropriate) 44 times. Because retrying it 44 times might only take 4-5 minutes.

I also like that when the designers present a new challenge, or more appropriately, a new way to die a gruesome death, it was always pretty clear what you had to do to get past it. The challenge is much more in the doing than in figuring out some sort of puzzle. Although there were a few instances where the run and jump physics required to complete a board would require a bit of deep thought. Thankfully, it was never enough to dull the edges of what is otherwise a "Run-N-Gun" type of experience.

In summation, I'm pretty pleased with what Team Meat has accomplished here. Essentially, it's a fun, approachable, not-at-all-pretentious entry in the platformer genre and distills the genre down to its purest essence. It rewards attention to detail and focus while never feeling cheap. When you die (and you will die hundreds of times), you always know why you died and what you need to do next time. The trick is in the doing.

Super Meat boy Bandage Girl dr Fetus


I really enjoyed playing Super Meat Boy. The presentation and pacing is fantastic. I expected a super-difficult platformer, but I didn't expect Team Meat to make a total package as good as it was. This is the big reason why SMB became so popular, it appeals to pretty much anyone. It's easy to shut out most of the gaming userbase when releasing an ultra-difficult game, but the meat team did just the opposite. Pacing, learning, a cute little story, and multiple presentation styles all made this game as attractive as it could possibly be to players. I remember Greg mentioning in a comment that he didn't think he could stand this kind of trial-and-error death game, but he plugged through SMB just like everyone else.

Once you (eventually) beat the game, there is still PLENTY of reason to continue playing as SMB contains copious post-game content. Once you beat a level's goal time, you can play through that stage in a second world, which has a similar, but more difficult layout. The game also includes a special built-in module with user-created downloadable levels for those with even more masochistic tendencies. Repeating all stages for best time can also be a post-game goal, but unfortunately the game seems to have timing issues inherent to its engine, making time runs a bit illegitimate. Additionally, collecting bandages let you unlock a variety of new characters to play with, most being pulled directly from other indie games. This is nothing but a fantastic collaboration between studios and an well-placed homage to the games which have influenced Super Meat Boy.

There is very little bad to say about the game. The first is the prerequisite "this type of game is not for everyone." For people who really can't stand dying a lot or executing twitch/precision platforming, Super Meat Boy won't last long. I also unfortunately encountered some aforementioned technical issues related to the engine's timing. I'm playing on a 120hz monitor, with the game running at 120 frames per second. Unfortunately, some elements in the game are detached from the rest of the game engine timing and work on a strict frame count. This means they'll either animate faster or slower than intended if the game is running above or below 60fps. This made the game significantly harder for me at times, and the final boss was impossible. Tracking lasers tracked me faster, rotating spikes rotated faster, saw throwers shot twice as fast, and npc characters moved twice as quickly as intended. The final boss is supposed to run with you/behind you in the final level and instead easily beat me to the end and became non-responsive once I finally reached it. I had to force 60hz just to beat the game, which really shouldn't happen. This is a known issue and not only affects non-standard refresh rates but the legitimacy of level times and the replay system in general. Fixing it may have just been too much work, but it would have been nice to see an official response on the matter.