Super Meat Boy is a strong platformer that plays very well. It gells well with the versatility of the Switch but should be a welcome addition on any platform.
Nintendo’s hybrid console is proving quite popular. An often heard remark is that simply playing on the Switch itself (presumably in handheld mode) is just great. Combine this with a lot of third-party developers coming back to a Nintendo console and you have quite some games appearing on the console that have already been out on other systems. So how do these games hold up on Nintendo’s console? This time I take a look at: Super Meat Boy.
Super Meat Boy was developed by two-man studio Team Meat. It’s a sequel to the flash game Meat Boy also made by one of the developers from Team Meat (together with someone else). Super Neat Boy originally came out on the XBox 360 way back in 2010. At the time Wii & 3DS versions were planned but those were ultimately canceled. Later on, Super Meat Boy did make it onto the WiiU marking his Nintendo platform debut. The game received quite a bit critical acclaim and its sales have passed the million mark.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Super Meat Boy stars a sentient cube of flesh. With him, you need to conquer a multitude of short platform levels designed to be tough to an almost sadistical extent. The goal of each level is to reach Bandage Girl (a pink cube) who has been captured by Dr. Fetus (I’m not even going to try to explain him). While getting to Bandage Girl is the primary goal you can also try to do it extra swiftly to get an A+ rank. Additional challenges are collecting bandages and finding warp zones.
While the game’s retro graphics might seem cute at first, this game is definitely not for kids. Meat Boy leaves a trail of blood everywhere he goes including when he dies. After dying you immediately respawn at the beginning leaving the marks from the previous attempt(s). This can lead to some gruesome looking levels after a few failed tries. Apart from that, the cutscenes can be quite disturbing. Nothing graphically violent, just…disturbing. Oh, there is a Super Poop Boy in there too…
Super Meat Boy takes platforming seriously and takes it to a whole new level. The controls are simple, tight and basically the controls of the original Super Mario Bros; Meat Boy can jump and run. While those controls are simple, how they are applied is where the true challenge lies. For example, Super Meat Boy can also wall jump, something you’ll be doing a lot. But it’s combining those (wall) jumps with the speed increase (and decrease) from applying the run button that is put to impressive use. Even in the first few levels, the game shows you that simple running and jumping is not what is needed to succeed in this game.
I can always appreciate the so-called “flow” in a game and Super Meat Boy is a prime example of why, especially when trying to achieve those A+ rankings. All levels are always the same, so memorizing what happens at what time is crucial. What I also like is that when you die you instantly respawn. This means no time to feel bummed about your missed attempt but that is a small price to pay for not being frustrated by endlessly watching some form of level startup thingy. The speed contributes to the game’s experience as it heavily depends on trying over and over again.
While the game is designed to be properly challenging it’s not unreasonable. There is a continuous sense of progression. For me getting A+ ranks was part of my default goals and this proved surprisingly doable. The bandages were less of a priority for me as they can be quite tough to get. What’s nice is that you can achieve the different goals independently. So there’s no need to blast through a level for an A+ rank and at the same time get the bandage. Warp Zones were different, these are only present for a limited amount of time so they are similar to doing an A+ run. These additional goals are totally optional. You can happily progress through the entire game without getting a single bandage, warp zone or A+ rank.
Warp Zones are gateways to additional levels with a retro theme that focus more on the platforming skill than on flow. Usually, you have a limited number of lives to progress through a set of levels. These levels are an interesting break from the rest and usually they reap a nice reward like unlocking a character. This last aspect makes chasing warp zones and bandages somewhat interchangeable. Because bandages can be used to unlock or “buy” new characters.
These characters, that include characters from other games, sport different abilities. One might be able to float longer in mid-air and in a straight line while others might stick to walls. These add another level of depth to approaching the main levels. Ultimately I stuck with meat boy primarily because I felt the levels were designed for him, especially when trying to get an A+ rank. Still, the ability to use other characters is a solid addition and adds replayability.
So, how does it play on Switch? To be honest this game falls into the discovery category for me. While I had the game on WiiU I never got around to playing it. But Super Meat Boy is simply a great game and the Switch version does it justice. The short levels are a good fit to take with you, so the Switch’ portability only adds to the experience. That said, because of the precise controls longer play-sessions can become straining in handheld mode. My preferred mode of play was docked using the Pro controller.
Super Meat Boy is an excellent addition to the Switch library as it should be on any system. It’s for serious platforming enthusiasts but isn’t as scary as that may sound. It has an indie pricepoint making it all the more attractive. Definitely one to try.