Top 100 Games – 97 – Super Meat Boy

18 Feb

Super Meat Boy
Year: 2010
Genre: Platformer

Team Meat’s creation, Super Meat Boy, has been described as the ‘Super Mario Bros.’ of its generation. It’s a platformer in the classic sense, 2D, primary colours (mostly red) and a simple plot. No secret has been made of its inspirations, but because of that SMB is even better, a nostalgia trip with modern twists and some fantastic graphical flourishes. The setting and characters are unique and mildly disturbing, yet somehow distinctly loveable. Villain Dr. Fetus kidnaps Meat Boy’s girlfriend Bandage Girl, and the stage is simply and effectively set for a romp through some bizarre locales.

The art design is brilliantly executed, with each world having a distinct personality. The hospital stood out in particular, with piles of syringes and medical waste on the ground, along with the SMB standard, meat grinder wheels, dotted around the levels. Occasionally breaking the tone for a level entirely in silhouette or a ‘retro’ styled level, the variety is just enough that the environments stay interesting. The detail is the best part though, while it’s hard to drag your eyes from Meat Boy himself thanks to the fast paced gameplay, the levels are wonderfully designed. Looking closely reveals details that you barely notice when charging through stages, and it only serves to make the game more appealing. The characters are cute, even Meat Boy slapping disgustingly against a wall and leaving a slick trail of blood is charming, in fact the game oozes a sort of horrible appeal. The end of level replays are a fantastic addition, and watching each attempt at once is a fine reward, especially when you realise the skill it took to guide Meat Boy to the end while all his clones died horribly.

It's not exactly... subtle

Playing SMB is an absolute treat. This is some of the best gameplay since the heyday of 2D graphics on the SNES and the graphical additions only make it better. It’s smooth to control, and impossibly precise. Jumping between meat grinders while avoiding a giant robot requires that kind of precision, but Team Meat really went above and beyond with their effort. Meat Boy moves with the kind of grace Mario could never muster. With traps and obstacles everywhere, the game looks like it should be taken slowly, but the times offered to be beaten are incredibly low. It’s all about the speedrun, and once the controls click (after the first level or two) there’s a level of artistry in the level design that is rarely seen. They are crafted make speed paramount, yet punish the slightest lapse in concentration. It’s a bit like Sonic mixed with Mario at 100mph. Gripping the controller tightly, staring intently at the screen, it’s almost Zen, until you die and hurl the unfortunate peripheral at the nearest wall. SMB is the best platformer in years, and one of the best ever, difficult, but never cheap. It’s a game for anyone who played Mario constantly in the past, and really, who didn’t?

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2 Responses to “Top 100 Games – 97 – Super Meat Boy”

  1. R. S February 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Couldn’t agree less don’t like this game at all! but enjoying the top 100 list 🙂

    • James February 21, 2011 at 2:48 am #

      Hopefully there’s some you’re a fan of on the way! 🙂

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