After contemplating how best to start this review, I've finally settled on the official opening statement: This is the hardest game ever made.
Despite it's cute characters and quirky humor, Super Meat Boy packs the most difficult platformer this gamer has ever played. Not counting several indie games (which this game homages a few at times) this game will have you pounding the floor with tears in your eyes like a baby.
The game starts with Meat Boy, a little cube of unprocessed meat and his girlfriend Bandage Girl. Bandage Girl loves Meat Boy. The game goes on to introduce Dr. Fetus whom no one loves. In jealously he punches out Bandage Girl and abducts her. Its up to you as Meat Boy to traverse the many, many perilous levels of saw blades, exploding demons and salt factories in order to rescue her. Meat Boy handles like well, a wet sticky slab of meat. It takes a bit to really get a handle on the controls but once your used to it you should be able to speed your way through harrowing and short-but-satisfying levels. And believe me there are A LOT of levels, each one requiring you as Meat Boy to navigate them with pinpoint precision in order to rescue Bandage Girl, only to have Dr. Fetus whisk her away to the next one. Even the slightest error in your movement spells death here but the developer Team Meat has circumvented the usual frustration of constant dying by having Meat Boy respawn instantly for the player. Your given infinite lives in the regular levels and once you finally complete one your given a replay of all your tries simultaneously with often hilarious effect.
Super Meat Boy's origin harkens back to Newgrounds and it's art style reflects that sort of Flash animated design. The game itself looks excellent without being overly flashy or hyper realistic. The retro design lends itself well to this game. Other characters from indie PC games make appearance through completing bonus stages that resemble the games their from. Each one has a special ability or controls differently from Meat Boy and really gives the player some options when tackling particularly difficult levels. You could also back track with them to best your previous time and get an A+ on simpler levels as well. After getting A+ on a level, the player can then access that level's Dark World aka "much harder version of the level." Given that this is probably the hardest game ever, the actual hard levels seem impossible. I can feel Team Meat laughing at me sometimes.
It's hard to recommend this game to just anyone despite all the things Team Meat did right. Impatient or easily frustrated gamers need to look somewhere else for their entertainment. For those willing to spend hours tackling all the challenges that Super Meat Boy throws at them there are plenty positives to warrant. Giant bosses, clever level design, and a deadly sense of humor await you. Probably the biggest reward this game can give to the gamer is a sense of monumental satisfaction. There's nothing like finally nailing all those pinpoint precision timed jumps and netting that seemingly impossible to reach bandage.
There are some differences to the Xbox Live Arcade edition and the PC edition that deserve noting. The main game including the Dark World remain unchanged from what I could tell. Both versions share some of the bonus characters while each retains exclusives. The PC version however has more.
Super Meat Boy is brought to us by Team Meat and is rated T for Teen. I'm giving it a 4.5 out of 5.