Does anyone recall the number of hours they?ve spent playing the old school SNES platform games? I know that I could likely figure it out, but I would require a degree in quantum mechanics and an understanding of advanced engineering, to truly gauge the time these games have spent in my head. That is where a truly successful 2D platform gains its reputation?.how long do you spend obsessing over individual levels. If you?ve ever had an ?ah ha? moment, figuring out how to beat a level when you?re nowhere near the console then you know exactly what I?m referring to.
Lucky for us, games like this are few and far between, and with our modern focus on fps?s and motion gaming we all felt we would not need to obsess as we used to. Well, with no thanks to the developers over at Newgrounds.com, it seems that our personal time is about to be invaded once more.
2 years ago, Newgrounds.com released a 2D platform to little fanfare. The interest grew to a point that it drew the watchful eye of the console marketplace. Of course the consoles have always identified winners (yeah right, dynasty warriors, anyone?) and quickly engaged creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes to port the web based title to various media, thus resulting in the creation of TeamMeat (is there a don?t ask, don?t tell policy to studio naming?). And here we are, faced with the challenge of experiencing a few levels of Super Meat Boy.
Super Meat Boy?s premise is simple; you play as our hero, Meat Boy (a piece of fresh, moist, meat) leaping through a number of areas to save your love, Bandage Girl (a pink bandage with a pretty daisy) from the evil clutches of Dr. Fetus (yes, it is what you think, a fetus in a jar?but the jar has arms and legs and is a very snappy dresser). There is a little more background but let?s face it, all you need to know is that you have to save Bandage Girl by running and jumping through increasingly dangerous areas.
All of the levels are full of ?platforming? goodness and dexterity numbing madness. You propel Meat Boy by jumping at walls, which allow you to momentarily stick (you are moist meat after all) and jump again and again. You do all this while avoiding classic obstacles, that of spinning blades of death, fire and all manner of meat grinding mayhem. Key to the enjoyment is that each level only takes about 10-30 seconds to complete and, yes, in the beginning this is entirely possible. But as the levels progress, so does the level of difficulty. So when you get it right it only takes a few seconds but it?s the endless number of tries to get to the completion that make the pay off so rewarding.
Controls are the most important aspect to consider in a game like this, so it is worth noting that the developers have created the most responsive controls I?ve seen of any video game. Often, when I started a level I worried about the precise movements I would need but the controls never let me down (even when my eyesight and coordination did).
This title is indicative of the movement we?ve seen recently in the casual gaming market. Gamers are often looking for quick moments of levity and escape; this is the same mentality behind many of the touch based, mobile gaming applications. Although, all of the levels take only 10-30 seconds to complete correctly, there are more than 300 levels to be had. Keeping in mind that each level will take a number of attempts, you have many hours of gameplay available. There are warp levels that will feature different characters and gameplay, there are bandages to collect that will open additional gameplay opportunities and the cutscenes will have you eager to experience even more of the game. Add the amount of time you?ll spend watching your attempts (when you complete a level you are treated to an instant montage of all your attempts playing simultaneously on screen) and the time you?ll spend thinking about this game, and you're pulling out that degree in quantum mechanics to calculate your ultimate level of enjoyment.
This is a finely tuned gaming experience that should be experienced by every modern gamer. Many will reminisce of simpler times, many will cry from shear frustration, many will recognize the natural progression of platform gaming but all who play, and I do mean all, will marvel at the pure entertainment value of Super Meat Boy.