It’s extremely difficult for an independent developer to produce a runaway hit when up against blockbuster games with million dollar budgets. Even more strenuous is creating a memorable character, however there’s something brilliantly simplistic about a small talking red cube of meat (aptly-named “Meat Boy” for the carnage he’s set to endure). Indeed, if the character was given any more physical dimension en par with say Mario or Metroid this would be a more brutal title and imagine would have a hard time getting passed the Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and WiiWare censors.
The plot to Super Meat Boy is as threadbare as you can get. In the opening cutscene Meat Boy’s girlfriend, Bandage Girl, is kidnapped by Dr. Fetus in classic silent movie fashion. From there the player navigates through an endless series of puzzles with the goal of ultimately rescuing her. Like any good independent title Super Meat Boy takes a relatively simple mechanic and makes repeating it extremely enjoyable. Indeed part of the fun is watching meat boy die in the most horrendous ways possible.
What makes the game so brilliant is that it takes the fun of traditional platforming and cranks the difficult to 11. There’s also a nostalgic factor at work here as Super Meat Boy strikes a chord with older gamers who enjoyed classics like Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, and Castlevania in their youth. Players must avoid fatal obstacles like lasers, spikes, and rotating saw blades whilst guiding their character with pinpoint precision (similarly a special option allows for all trials to be played simultaneously once a stage is completed), however the slick nature of meat boy’s body, allowing him to slide down walls and run on surfaces, makes it perilously tricky to do so.
Beyond the actual gameplay the soundtrack is superb, the artwork is striking, and the level design is as majestic as it is labrynthian. What started out as an Abode flash game on Newgrounds turned into a classic-in-the-making eventually going on to celebrate 1,000,000 units sold as of January 2012, turning its creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes into instant celebrities within the indie development scene.
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