Review: Super Meat Boy

There are few things more satisfying in the gaming realm than an excellent 2D platformer. Take that satisfying feeling and include some amazing puzzle elements, along with some overly simplistic controls and you have yourself a winning formula. This is the winning formula that Super Meat Boy, the sequel to the popular flash game, which makes its appearance as a full-scale downloadable title, has implemented to the fullest degree.

Super Meat Boy, as mentioned earlier, is based in simplicity. You control Meat Boy, who is dating a girl named Bandage Girl. One day, Meat Boy's arch nemesis, Dr. Fetus, kidnaps Bandage Girl and the game begins.

Each level requires that you reach Bandage Girl. While this sounds easy, it is definitely easier said than done more times than not. Once you get past the basic levels that are meant to teach you the very simple controls and objectives, you're thrown head first into the deep end. Before you know it, you'll be wall-jumping, free-falling, and sprinting past, through, over and under the likes of saws, lasers, lava pits and other environment-based hazards.

The gameplay of Super Meat Boy is part retro arcade and part 2D platformer. As we all know, in platformers, physics and controls play a huge part of the game. Luckily, Super Meat Boy has both super tight controls and consistent physics. There will rarely be a moment where you feel that you died and anything is to blame other than yourself. You truly have complete control over Meat Boy as you make your way through the various worlds.

No matter how good you get at Super Meat Boy, there will always be a high degree of challenge waiting for you. The most basic way to beat the game is to simply make your way through each level without dying. If you do the level quickly enough, however, you'll receive an A+ rating. Then, once you get an A+ rating on a level, you'll unlock the "Dark World" version of that level, which is simply an incredibly more difficult version of that level. Trust us, these levels can get VERY tough. It's new variations and offerings like this that will keep you coming back for more from Super Meat Boy.

The game is certainly a title that is meant for trial and error. Some levels you'll get the first try, but others you'll notice yourself dying upwards of fifty times before finally reaching the objective safely. The best part of this is not only the satisfaction of completing something you struggled with just minutes ago, but the fact that you get to watch and save replays of your run. These aren't just any replays, however. Instead of just showing your successful run, you'll see as many Meat Boys on the screen as you made attempts. They all start at the same time and the runs overlap on top of eachother, not unlike a "ghost" system found in other time-trial like games. It's really great to see all of your failures die in unique ways elimination-style on the way to watching your successful run reach its destination.

You'll even have some pretty epic "boss battles" at the end of each world. I put that in quotes because you don't really fight the bosses, as much as you escape them until they undo themselves. The battles/escapes each possess a very high degree of difficulty and you'll be very relieved when you finally escape the boss battle for the first time.

On top of the great controls, you have a fun, gruesome, and quite fitting presentation for the title. From the little cutscenes in between worlds to the fact that you'll actually be tracking a meat-trail everywhere you go, this game is one of those games that will have you appreciating the little things. And, as we mentioned, the replay system plays a big part in the presentation department.

All in all, we can't say enough good things about Super Meat Boy. The title handles incredibly solidly and the puzzle elements that force you to go trial and error don't wear on you as much as you might think. In fact, those very elements, combined with the large replayability-factor, is what will keep you coming back time and time again. The best part of all? Anyone can play this game. Hardcore and casual gamers alike will enjoy this title beyond most any other title in their libraries. There is no doubt that Super Meat Boy is one of the top games to ever grace the Xbox Live Arcade, and it will certainly stick out on the Wii as well.