Those of you who have had the pleasure of watching Indie Game: The Movie will already be familiar with Super Meat Boy. Alongside Braid, it was the game that kickstarted the indie game revolution at the start of the decade. To those of you who haven’t seen the documentary: watch it. Now.
Whilst the AAA games of the time were pushing for even crisper graphics and more sizeable maps like bodybuilders flexing their muscles, several indie developers were taking things back to the basics. More refined controls, tuned gameplay, and enough nostalgia to knock out a horse became the flavour of the year on the Xbox Marketplace. And so the revolution was born, with few games had such a lasting impact as Super Meat Boy.
Super Meat Boy is a 2D platformer in which the player controls Meat Boy, a square, bright red chunk of – you guessed it – meat. In typical platformer fashion, Meat Boy’s girlfriend, Bandage Girl, is kidnapped by an arch enemy, Dr. Fetus. A chapter-by-chapter rescue mission ensues, in which our detestably-looking protagonist has to fight his way through 300 levels of ensuing pain and anguish. As you may have already guessed, this a platform game like no other.
What begins as a basic test of jump and land quickly turns into a challenge of ‘how many more times are you willing to fail?’ Make no mistake, Super Meat Boy is incredibly hard; it becomes obvious just a few levels in, when floors begin moving and saws start hacking, that the game poses more of a challenge than any of its kin. Its difficulty increases at a fair pace, though – enough to at least give you the opportunity to improve. Yet it’s an example of never judging a book by its cover: it may look like your average platformer, but inside it’s prepared to make you die, die, and die many more times until you master its controls.
As for the control system, you’ll notice early on just how fine-tuned and delicately balanced it is. One misstep often leads to instant death, but the level of control you have in the game ensures that this is your fault, and your fault only. This is required once you progress to the latter levels of the game, some of which are incredibly demanding of speed and reaction-time. A split second decision can be the different between life and death, and the tight controls mean you get to make that decision.
With 300 levels in total, as well as secret locations and dozens of collectibles to find, Super Meat Boy contains enough substance to keep you playing for weeks. The difficult means it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to progress too quickly, making the first half of the game more a test of will than anything else. But once you’re familiar with the controls and the physics of the game, you’ll have enough to chew on until the sequel, Super Meat Boy Forever, releases this year.
So how does the Switch version hold up? In being such a simple design and relatively small in size, it’s no surprise that Super Meat Boy has transitioned well on Nintendo’s latest console. It was developed to be played with a controller, and the joy-cons are more than up to the challenge. Within hours of playing I didn’t notice any drops in frame rate, and the visuals are as crisp as ever. But, then again, it’s not like we’re playing Skyrim here.
The real reason to get Super Meat Boy on the Switch – which is the same reason to get every other game on the hybrid console – is because of its portable capabilities. To be able to undock the screen and play on the go lends itself to games that can be easily paused and restarted. Super Meat Boy even allows you to enter any previously-beaten level from the main menu, so you can replay a certain chapter depending on where you are and how you feel – I’d refrain from struggling too hard on difficult levels whilst in certain places, though.
Is Super Meat Boy on the Switch worth buying again if you have it already? Definitely. If you enjoyed the game before, then what better way to play it than on the go, when you can just dip in whenever it suits. It goes without saying, then, that if you don’t own a copy of Super Meat Boy already, it’s an essential purchase. This is the game that brought indie games into the spotlight, and it quickly becomes obvious why. It’s an outstanding indie title, and one that everyone should play, at least once.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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