Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Super Meat Boy (PC)

SUPER... MEAT BOY!

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It's possible that you've noticed that this one doesn't really belong with the other games I've added to the blog so far. It doesn't quite fit the pattern. I don't usually write about recent games, especially not games that came out last year and that everyone has already bought and played and discussed etc.

But I was tricked into doing it by fate.

You see I mentioned to someone in conversation that I happened to be playing Super Ninja Boy, and they were disappointed when the game turned out to be nothing like Super Meat Boy. So I joked that I would put Super Meat Boy on my blog, except I can't because I don't own it.

And then less than an hour later someone else totally unrelated gives me the game out of nowhere in totally unrelated circumstances. So now that I DO own it, I guess I have to write about it.

On the plus side though, I got a free game to play, yay!

Immediately after starting it up, I'm hit with shameless anti-keyboard propaganda. Also that design reminds me a little of a certain current gen console controller. But screw their 'advice', and their PRO-CONSOLE AGENDA, I'm playing this on PC so I'll play it with the controller I want to use.

My Xbox 360 pad.

And now they're lying to me! Meat Boy's not going to get the girl if he gets up there, he's just going to end up as miserable and alone as he was before he started. Platform games do not end in the forest level.

But it's fine, I'll go along with it. I wasn't that bothered about rescuing her anyway, I just want to jump on stuff. And I have to admit, this game gets the jumping on stuff bit right.


A FEW LEVELS LATER.


Oh crap I fell into a swirly thing and suddenly everything went all swirly.

That... is awesome. I love the amount of depth they've managed to squeeze into this simple game.

Like hidden levels with an entirely different graphics style and music.

Or even an entirely different character with different abilities.

The game is packed full of charm and new secrets to find.

Damn. I'm not going to win this am I?

Oh, there's also the Dark World levels, in case you ever think 'hey these normal levels are cool, but they sure could use a couple more saws around'. Fuck the Dark World levels.

But I can't hang around on World One forever, I should probably go take on the first boss.

Okay, I'm just running from a giant chainsaw robot, that's not so bad I suppose. Okay, lets get this over with.



WORLD ONE COMPLETE!


Okay I'm on World Two, and the game is starting to get a little harder now. Fuck I hate this level.

But the game is so well designed that I'm always encouraged to keep trying. I have infinite retries, the timer always starts at zero so dying a few times doesn't ruin my time, and the blood trails I'm leaving across the level make each new run feel like it's building on the last in some weird way.

Plus if I really get stuck, I don't have to quit the game, I can just go play another level on the world map and come back to the difficult one later.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a level entirely in silhouette! It's cool how they're always playing with the look of the game and throwing subtle little details around to make it feel alive.

I love world maps, and this game has perhaps the best one in all of video game history. It's perfectly straightforward, the bonus levels are made accessible when you find them and you can tell instantly what levels you've got an A+ time on.

Okay I admit, I'm just replaying the easy levels because I don't want to go against the World Two boss. But I suppose he can't be THAT tough this early in the game. Yeah I'm ready for this, I'm going to go kick his ass!

Agh fuck, I hate this fucking boss. Fuck fuck FUCK!

Uh, okay I'm going to leave the boss fight for now, and hit the world map to grab a couple more bandages first. There's no sense in trying to rush ahead and skipping all this stuff right?

Ugh, how the hell do you even get this thing? And why are those saws glowing anyway? If I walk across those blocks down there, they disintegrate, bathing the level in a warm saw blade glow.

Hey, I found level -1! And then got my ass kicked. Okay, fine, I give up. I get the hint. Bonus content is for good players.

I'll go back to the second boss.

AGH, FUCK THIS GUY! I hate this, I hate this level so much. And I think I know why.

The levels up to this point are pretty short. Deaths are annoying, but the game is designed at this point to make sure that it's not a huge journey to get back to where you died, and they feel like one complete challenge to be mastered.

But this level is different, it has stages. You get to a certain point and the screen scrolls up, then stops. As if to say 'you have passed challenge one, and now you're up to challenge two'. But when I die I'm kicked right down to the start again, and have to replay the stuff I can already do. Over and over and over and over.

I'm not saying it's bad design, it just breaks the spell for me personally. Up to this point I'd been in awe at the game design, the style, the creativity (and holy fuck, the music), but this is where it just became another pain in the ass platformer to me. But then I suppose checkpoints would go against the spirit of the game.


Next game.

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Semi-Random Game Box