For years I have been dreaming of the day that Super Meat Boy released on PlayStation platforms, and earlier this year my prayers were answered when Team Meat took to the PlayStation Blog to announce that the title would be hitting both the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 later in 2015.
Super Meat Boy originally released five years ago in October 2010 on Xbox 360 and Windows, and instantly made a name for itself with some precision platforming that offered a challenge at a time when games were being criticised for being notoriously easy.
Death is constant in Super Meat Boy and although that can be off-putting in some titles, in this game death is your friend – pointing out the error in your ways and hopefully helping you to learn from your mistakes in order to progress to the next stage.
Once you do complete a level, you will be shown a replay of all your attempts to complete the stage. Some of the replays that were shown at the end of the stages that I played saw ten’s of Meat Boys on the screen, each of them dying a brutal death bar the one Meat Boy that made it unscathed to the end of the level.
At the end of each level is Meat Boy’s girlfriend Bandage Girl (who, believe it or not, is heavily bandaged) and you are on a mission to save her. Evil scientist Dr. Fetus has kidnapped her, and it is up to you to make it through levels filled with rotating saws, fire, crumbling blocks and other perilous obstacles. One thing that I did find that helped me on my journey through a stage was that whatever surface Meat Boy touched became covered in red meat juice – useful for seeing what points of a level you need to aim for/avoid when timing your jumps.
One thing that is crucial for any platformer worth its salt is the control scheme and responsiveness of these. You will be glad to hear that Super Meat Boy has some of the tightest controls out of any platformer that I have played, and after the first few stages you will be bouncing about levels confident that Meat Boy will respond to your button presses instantly.
The controls themselves are really simple, with X used to jump and the Right trigger used to give you a speed boost. That is all you will need to learn when playing Super Meat Boy, allowing for you to not worry about a difficult control scheme and instead focus on the difficult environments that you are faced with.
There are over 300 levels to bounce your way through, many of them are optional and some are well hidden Warp Zones that either feature art styles similar to that of older games or a nod to other indie games. Getting through the levels will take some time and you will be challenged, but one nice feature in Super Meat Boy is that you do not need to complete all the stages in one world in order to progress to the next. The five main worlds (world 6 is short and 7 is unlocked after beating the game) in the game feature 20 levels, and you can tackle these 20 levels in any order that you fancy – but you will need to complete 17 of them in order to unlock the world’s boss who you will need to defeat in order to progress to the next world.
There are other objectives to consider whilst making your way through each level, with collectibles in the form of bandages and a target time that you are challenged to beat. Beating the target time in a level will give you an ‘A+’ ranking, which then unlocks a harder version of the stage in an alternate, dark world version of the world you are currently playing – usually adding extra obstacles to make life that much harder. If you struggled with the normal stages, then boy will the Dark world levels punish you!
There are 20 bandages per world that are split between a world’s dark and light stages. Collecting these is no mean feat, and you can unlock additional characters by getting these – with the additional characters offering different abilities that may end up making your life easier with some of the game’s later stages.
There is a leaderboard system in place in Super Meat Boy, so you can see how you fare against your PSN friend list or even other players in the world. This can make for some good reading, and I often look at the times at the top of the board and wonder how the hell they are possible.
Another thing you will notice is how great Super Meat Boy looks. The 2D visuals are both colourful and sharp, looking great on the PlayStation Vita’s awesome screen. Each world has a distinct theme to it, and the artstyle throughout the game fits perfectly with the areas and characters that you encounter in the game. You can definitely spot the similarities between this and The Binding of Isaac (which came from one half of Team Meat, Edmund McMillen), and the hand-drawn look and feel of the game definitely adds to the overall quirk and charm that Super Meat Boy nails.
One thing that did cause a bit of worry among some die-hard Meat Boy fans was the news that the PlayStation versions of Super Meat Boy would not feature the same soundtrack that was so well received in the original release of the game. Having not played the original versions I don’t know what I am missing, however the soundtrack on offer in the Vita version is by no means bad. There are some great audio tracks in the game and the sound effects are sublime – especially the squishiness of the meat and the sound of meat on steel.
Overall, as you may be able to tell, I loved every aspect of Super Meat Boy. As far as platformers go, this is up there as one of the best that I have played – staking a claim for potentially one of the best Indie titles in recent times also. This game will definitely not be for everyone, some people will be put off with just how difficult Super Meat Boy is, but if you are a glutton for punishment and like games that challenge then you may find this your new pick up and play PlayStation Vita title!