360 XBLA Review - Super Meat Boy

17th November 2010 - A piece of meat. Jumping. Dying. Get torn into pieces. Jumping some more. Dying again. Getting cut up. Jumping even further. And once more, dying over and over again. If that doesn’t sound like a fun game, I don’t know what does. Super Meat Boy is a little off-centred arcade game currently doing the rounds on Xbox Live Arcade, but to no where near the numbers or audience it deserves. Read on to find out why this title is a little something special you should definitely look into.

Super Meat Boy is as simple as anything gameplay wise; you are a little chunk of delicious red meat who must stop the strange pink guy in a black suit from stealing - and doing unnatural meaty things with - your pink meat woman. You do this by completing series upon series of increasingly strenuous and difficult platforming levels with a variety of settings, backdrops, atmospheres and puzzles.

If that, minus the really weird thing that some would call a story, reminds you of another little arcade title by the name of Trials HD, then thumbs up to you for being on the dot. The reason? Super Meat Boy is essentially this years Trials. It takes everything you love about platforming and throws into a blender with a big helping of frustration and the all-too-familiar ‘one more try’ formula. Like Trials, Super Meat Boy pulls it off wonderfully, resulting in some downright psychotic level designs and more and more overly frustrating moments that nearly want to make you drive your controller through the TV. Don’t get me wrong, im all for a bit of a challenge, but this takes it one step too far, even early on in the game. And with over 340 levels already in the mix (more are promised with some upcoming DLC), things get messy if you don’t give yourself a few good breaks here and there.

Finish a level, and you get to view your reply - a complied video of every one of your failed attempts (trust me, there is going to be lots of those) played simultaneously. When the levels start to get really challenging and take a good portion of your life away, you can be assured that some of these replays are absolute chaos, and simply look amazing. I never thought I would love watching myself fail so welcomely.

Like is becoming a pretty popular medium for arcade titles, Super Meat Boy joins the fads of creating an almost nostalgic experience from scrap - with the use of classic NES-era sound bites and graphics coupled with a good use of Flash animation and cartoony goodness. Meat Boy is as awesome as video game character come, with little detail but oh-so-much love. He’s adorable, baddass and always on the hunt for that ultimate challenge -one that you have to guide him through mind you.

The ever-changing environments and varied atmosphere’s keep things fresh through the insane amount of levels too, with every set changing setting and dragging the story on so it all makes sense. As much as living pieces of juicy meat can, anyway. In short, this game is absolutely tops in the graphics department.

Tops in the graphics department, I say? Tops with the sound too! Well, almost…

Super Meat Boy has a great quality soundtrack that manages to capture the rhythm and style of insane fast-paced platforming fun to a pin point. It complements everything else that golden in this bundle of joy and really makes both failing and being victorious all the much better. But now, here’s when the almost comes into play; while it may be an awesome addition to the pure adrenaline of crazed meat-jumping at first, given the large amount of failing and replaying you will have to do on almost every level, the small number of varying tracks that one stage complemented the greatness of the gameplay now become a nightmare. Hearing the same beeps, boops and tingles over and over and over and over again as you helplessly plummet into a giant circular saw for the hundredth time really, and I do mean really, start to annoy even the most patient of gamers. It simply adds to the rather out-of-control difficulty of Team Meats immaculate level design and apparent simplicity.

With over 340 stages of meaty mayhem, in which you must reply ten, if not hundreds of times to complete, there really is ton of content here. Even if it does seem o get old after a while. Its very much a similar game to Trials HD in the fact almost everyone who played it for a second fell in love, yet only a small number stayed till the end. Or even the half-way mark. And with Meaty here, im willing to bet most wont make it past the quarter range. But where it differs itself from the motorbike game there, is that many ended their love affair with trials because it was the same thing over and over again with extremely little change from start to finish, other than difficulty. With Meat Boy, the game is constantly changing, and technologically, its awesome. But the game is so freakin’ hard that not even the hardest of the hardcore will be able to beat it without going through a crate of new controllers. Super Meat Boy, is to the patient gamer, one of the downright best buys on the market for the cheap price of 1200 Microsoft Points (currently 800 at the time of writing as the ‘launch special’ is still on.) But to any of you not willing to break a sweat and more than a few tears in anger and pain over this game insanity, steer right clear of what is arguably the bargain of the year.

One of the, if not the, best arcade title of the year - and that’s saying something - Super Meat Boy is a fun, highly addictive, ‘one more go’ game that will have you laughing, jumping and even crying at its wonderful production, look, designs and finally - difficulty. Its as hard as nails, and as useful too. Okay maybe not, but nether less, practically everything about Super Meat Boy is in perfect order and to find fault in its stunning simplicity would be like to reach the top of Modern Warfare’s Leaderboards without glitching - nigh on impossible. Do beware if you venture into the world of Meat Boy, as your controllers may not survive and your love of gaming may just come to an end with anger, but live through the meaty tale and you will be a better man - for all intents and purposes. Honestly.


+ Over 340 unique levels
+ Pitch-perfect production and design
+ Insanely addictive
+ Looks great

- Overly Frustrating at times
- Repetitive Soundtrack

Reviewed and Written By John Elliott