A very popular trend within post retro-era games is to include some sort of “retro minigame” within the package. But more often than not, that’s usually what the inclusion ends up being: nothing more than a miniature part of the overall experience. Some titles even try to model old school graphical styles completely, such as VVVVVV, and greatly succeed in pleasing old school fans, but at the cost of alienating new age gamers. However, it’s very rare to see a combination of both in one package: enter Super Meat Boy.
Super Meat Boy is an independent video game designed by Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes and developed by Team Meat. It is the successor to McMillen and Jonathan McEntee’s October 2008 Flash game Meat Boy. Super Meat Boy was released on the Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Arcade in October 2010, on Windows PCs in November 2010, on Mac OS X a year later in November 2011, and on Linux in December 2011 as a part of the Humble Indie Bundle #4. Players control Meat Boy, a red, cube-shaped character, as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the game’s antagonist Dr. Fetus. The gameplay is characterized by fine control and split-second timing as the player runs and jumps through over 300 hazardous levels while avoiding obstacles. Additional player-created levels are available for free download.
The game was acclaimed by critics. In 2010, it received awards for Most Challenging Game from IGN, and for Best Downloadable Game from GameSpot and GameTrailers. Critics lauded the game’s precise control, retro artwork, and soundtrack. Reviewers generally praised the game’s challenge, although some warned that not all consumers would appreciate the level of difficulty. The game has been a commercial success, and has sold more than one million copies as of January 2012.
The game is divided into chapters, which together contain over 300 levels.Players attempt to reach the end of each level, represented by Bandage Girl, while avoiding crumbling blocks, saw blades, and various other fatal obstacles.The player can jump and run on platforms, and can jump off or slide down walls. The core gameplay requires fine control and split-second timing, and has been compared to traditional platform games such as Super Mario Bros.
Levels in each chapter can be played in any order, but a certain number of levels need to be completed to access the boss stage, which unlocks the next chapter if cleared.The player has an unlimited number of attempts to complete each level. If Meat Boy is killed, he immediately restarts the level, though the ornamental red blood left behind on surfaces that the player has touched remains.
A replay function, which may be accessed after a level has been completed, simultaneously shows all the player’s attempts to complete the level.Completing a level within a certain time earns an “A+” grade, which unlocks a harder alternate version of the level in the “dark world”, an optional set of difficult levels. Hidden stages called warp zones are accessed by finding portals in specific levels.These warp zones feature bonus levels that have either the art style of older video games.
The music is also worth mentioning as a standout selling point. Plain and simple, Team Meat has created the greatest chiptune-esque soundtrack since Ducktales NES – any fans of 8-bit style music owe it to themselves to at least attempt to listen to the quality tunes of Super Meat Boy. Thankfully, SMB not only excels with its presentation, but with its ability to charm hardcore gamers and casual fans alike.On October 26, 2010, the game’s soundtrack was released as a download-only album via the online Bandcamp store titled Super Meat Boy! Soundtrack.