Super Meat Boy review

  • Platforming perfection
  • An embarrassment of content
  • Feels so rewarding to complete each stage
  • Too hardcore for some
  • Hand cramps from playing too much
  • The final levels are diabolical

Super Meat Boy will make you angry. It will make you yell and curse. At times it will even make you feel hopeless, like you can do nothing right. That’s because it’s such a challenging 2D platformer, filled with some of the most devilish levels ever designed, that it will push all but the best gamers in the world to their limit. But it will also be one of the best time you ever had, for when you finally clear a seemingly impossible stage you feel truly thankful for Super Meat Boy making you really work for that win. And then it’s on to the next daunting stage.

Super Meat Boy began as a flash game on the popular Newgrounds, and went on to be one of the most popular games on the site, which eventually led to it becoming a full game. It harkens back to the days of classic 8 and 16-bit games, like Ghost ‘n’ Goblins, Castlevania, and Super Mario, when 2D platformers were expected to be very challenging but in a rewarding way. Super Meat Boy’s biggest influence seems to be Donkey Kong for the Game Boy, in both the set-up of Meat Boy constantly saving his girlfriend Bandage Girl from the mega-a$$hole Dr. Fetus, and in how the levels are presented to you.

Each level is a new problem you're dropped into. Most times you can see the goal (your girlfriend) and then you try your best to figure out how you are going to run and jump to get over to the fair lady. Once you finally traverse the perilous area and get to Bandage Girl, Dr. Fetus shows up and takes her to the next stage, and the process is repeated, say, 100 times. Seems simple enough right?

Above: Some stages do cool stuff like this silhouette look

Wrong. Super Meat Boy throws in so many different tricks along the way that it never gets stale and is always testing you. It may throw in a fan that lifts you up, or an enemy that won’t stop chasing you, or disappearing platforms. It always feels fresh, which keeps you coming back again and again. Even if you get stuck on a stage for 20 minutes, once you finally beat it you’ll want to see just how difficult the next stage is.

That’s one of SMB’s best qualities, is that while it’s always tough and demanding, it never feels cheap, or like the game is cheating you. Mainly that’s because the controls and physics are so locked down and perfect, feeling as precise as the best platformers of old. You know if you missed some jump, it’s due to you timing it wrong, not because the game missed something. I never came across a level where I felt like it was insurmountable because it was broken, I just knew I hadn’t figured out the exact path to take… yet.

And you will die a lot looking for that path, but trial and error is a huge part of the game. Looking at my death count in the stats page, I died about 3000 times total beating the 110 levels in the main game. And probably a third of that was in the insanely, desperately hard final six stages. But since the time between death and respawn is about one second, you never have to wallow in your failure. Most deaths go like this: jump, fall, killed on saw blade, “god damn it,” immediate respawn, “alright, this time I’ve got it.” And when you finally beat a stage they show a replay of all your attempts at once, making for a pretty entertaining montage.

This game is also one of the best bangs for your buck on XBLA. If you buy it in the first 30 days it’s only 800 MS points ($10) and for that you get at least 8-10 hours of play, which is more you get from some $60 games (and considerably more than Sonic 4 Episode I gives you for $15). And after you beat the main game, the truly crazy/awesome can take on the Dark World challenges, search for the hidden warp zones, or collect items to unlock badass hidden characters like a Castle Crasher and Tim from Braid. Furthermore, there’s the free DLC titled Teh Internets that’s coming down the line. It’s the best deal in gaming since the Orange Box.

So after this glowing review why isn’t it a 10? Mainly because Super Meat Boy may turn off some players who aren’t looking to be tested, even if I believe that the quality of the SMB earns it the right to be that difficult. Though I’m not saying, “people who suck at games shouldn’t bother,” (because I’d never describe myself as an advanced player) it’s just that a few out there may genuinely not enjoy how far this game goes in challenging you. But if you love platformers and were dying to play one till your hands hurt, one with personality that comically recognizes its retro influences without cashing in on nostalgia to be fun, that’s tough but fair, and that will make you feel like you really earned the Achievement when you finally beat it, get Super Meat Boy. You won’t regret it.

Oct 20, 2010

More Info

Release date: Oct 20 2010 - Xbox 360 (US)
Oct 20 2010 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, Wii, PC
Genre: Action
Published by: Team Meat
Developed by: Team Meat
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Animated Blood, Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor, Language


  • IcelandMaelstrom - November 9, 2010 4:41 a.m.

    having played the game through to the end, i realize that hand cramps are actually a serious flaw. not with the game, but with the goddamn human anatomy. also, i died about 4000 times but at least 800 of those don't count because they were from the I Wanna Be The Guy warp zone. diabolical...
  • Spybreak8 - November 2, 2010 8:52 p.m.

    I was a meh person before but after the soundtrack, everyone saying it's good and the tid bit of Teh Internets I grabbed it today. Oh the discounted price also helped!^^
  • Pruman - November 2, 2010 7:18 p.m.

    Picked this up after playing the demo to get it before they jack up the price. It's clear to me that the designers absolutely LOVE video games. Between the rock-solid gameplay, the recreation of 8-bit NES and 4-bit Game Boy environments (with authentic glitches and music!) and loving tributes to NES classics like Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden that allow this love to shine through, this game has the total package. Also, I have not laughed that hard at a game's cutscenes since Giants: Citizen Kabuto.
  • elpurplemonkey - October 25, 2010 8:14 a.m.

    Great review Hank. I've played this game a bunch these past few days and agree pretty much 100% with what you said. It's strangely satisfying, never cheap, and it really will make your hands hurt. Very, very fun and just a great deal.
  • MaximusDarr - October 22, 2010 5:35 a.m.

    This may be one of the best damn games I have ever purchased on XBLA. Thanks for the awesome review, Hank!
  • kor2disturbed - October 21, 2010 1:12 p.m.

    A buddy of mine showed me this game when it was still on Newgrounds, loved it then and loving it now.
  • Yaro - October 21, 2010 5:04 a.m.

    I'm pretty sure the hardest game I will ever love will be demon's souls...but yeah this might get close =)
  • Syncmaster - October 21, 2010 1:58 a.m.

    reminds me of N+ a lot. wich one is better?? loved N+
  • Doctalen - October 21, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    Loved it on newgrounds going to buy it may just play it now.
  • Crabhand - October 21, 2010 12:58 a.m.

    I played the demo earlier today and it was awesome. It had some rather challenging levels, and I'm somewhat scared to see what it will conjure for later levels. I'll probably buy it in a week or two. Damn, why is everyone releasing so many awesome games so close together!
  • grappler51 - October 20, 2010 11:48 p.m.

    Might get this when it comes to Wii. This is off topic, but where's your guys' new vegas review?
  • n00b - October 20, 2010 11:19 p.m.

    i think this game came out on the wii in the summer
  • batmanboy11 - October 20, 2010 9:58 p.m.

  • JoeMulvihill1 - October 20, 2010 9:01 p.m.

    you know it is good when a bad thing about the game is "hand cramps from playing too much.
  • vigeoman - October 20, 2010 8:49 p.m.

    prays this comes to ps3
  • abbottfrizzell - October 20, 2010 8:40 p.m.

    psh I'm glad I didn't buy that shitty Halo Reach and saved my money for this. lol (my one "it's better than Halo" joke) I'll probably get this sometime or another but right now I have Vanquish, Fable 3, Black Ops AND VENTURE BROTHERS SEASON 4.. to much to do emblemata cotinge
  • Evil_AppleJuice - October 20, 2010 8:39 p.m.

    Screw anyone who thinks games are hard. They are supposed to be. Your being introduced to a new world with new ideas and new rules. You gotta learn through trial and error. Just like babies, you gotta fall a bunch to stand up. And when you finally overcome that challenge, its incredibly rewarding.
  • austinthebookworm - October 20, 2010 8:30 p.m.

    Does the deal also apply to WiiWare? I'm really psyched for this game.
  • StrayGator - October 20, 2010 8:27 p.m.

    Relax, guys, I believe your computer can run it just fine. Just hold another month.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - October 20, 2010 8:22 p.m.

    Can I just point out another flaw - NOT ON THE PS3! I'm genuinely considering buying a 360 just to download and play this game without giving nintendo any more money.

Showing 1-20 of 28 comments

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