Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review - Super Meat Boy


I recently played Super Meat Boy on XBox Live. It is a really fun game, and it manages innovation in a genre that I would have thought had passed innovation by decades ago.  It's an impressive feat, and very much worth some attention.

Super Meat Boy is a 2-D platformer. Like all other successful indie games. Ninety percent of all indie games have to be 2-D platformers now, by federal law. Penalties for violation start at being forced to watch all of the Wandering Around In the Forest Being Emo scenes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and rapidly get worse from there.

The plot is simple, elemental, and timeless. You play Meat Boy, a small, sentient wad of bloody meat. Your girlfriend, Bandage Girl, has been kidnapped by the evil Dr. Fetus. You have to rescue her. You do so by moving left and right and jumping, hopefully evading all obstacles on your way to get to Bandage Girl. That's it. That's the game. It's a bloodier (MUCH bloodier) version of Donkey Kong, which itself came out about the time Napoleon was getting bogged down in Russia.

And yet, it is insanely fun and amazingly innovative. And the innovation comes from the developers' attempt to answer this simple question:

How do you make a computer game that is extremely hardcore and difficult but, at the same time, light and fun and not frustrating?

Tough problem. And they come up with a great solution. Super Meat Boy has two innovations that make it unique:

1. Short, short levels. No death penalty.

Super Meat Boy is a tough platformer, one of the toughest you will ever play. However, the levels are short. Very short. A lot of them can be completed in less than five seconds. Practically all of them can be done in less than thirty. For all regular gameplay, you don't have "lives". There is no long, annoying death animation. When you die, you are instantly back at the start of the level and able to play again. In other words, you come back to life so fast you will be playing again before you fully realize that you died.

Super Meat Boy requires amazingly difficult jumps, dodges, maneuvers, etc. It can easily take fifty tries to finish a level. And yet, you will often have all of those deaths less than five seconds into a level. So fifty deaths sounds like a lot, but they take place in less that 250 seconds (four minutes or so), which is an entirely reasonable amount of time to spend completing a level.

And when, by some unholy combination of skill and luck, you reach that fifth minute and maneuver through a tough level, you feel like a gaming god.

2. The Awesome Replays

When you finish a level, you see a replay of your attempts. Sounds dull, yes? The difference here is that you see a replay of ALL your attempts, shown at once. You die fifty times before you win? Then the replay shows fifty-one Meat Boys running through the level simultaneously. Fifty of them die in explosions of gore, and one of them gets through. It looks really cool and funny, and you can save the replays and show them to your friends.

The really amazing thing about this feature is subtle but powerful. What the all-attempts replays mean is that every time you die you didn't just waste your time. You added one more Meat Boy to the final replay, making it look cooler. Die fifty times? Then the replay looks spectacular. You aren't just failing. You're creating a bit of video game art. This feature sometimes made me keep trying a level again and again even after my sore fingers begged me to stop, just because I knew that, when I won, the replay would be awesome.

Video game death as personal expression. How cool is that?

There's More

There's many levels in the game. Finish a level quickly enough and it unlocks a much more difficult "dark world" version of the level. Plus there are boss fights. Hidden characters. Secret bonus levels. It's one of the best examples I've ever seen of obsessed developers going the extra mile to add craftsmanship and polish to their labor of love. The controls are really tight. The cutscenes are hilarious. Seriously, play this game.

I am on the record as saying that indie game development is overrated from the perspective of innovation. There are plenty of indie developers making hackwork, genre pieces, and clones of more successful games, and EA has published plenty of innovative titles over the last few years. But this is definitely one game that argues for the specialness of indies, and it's definitely worth checking out.

25 comments:

  1. Yeah, Super Meat Boy is pretty awesome. They just released it on Steam, so I bought it right away (it's on sale at $9.99). Pretty fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Judi Bola

      Delete
  2. Bonus points for gratuitous Potter bashing. The game sounds unique and amusing. I don't say that often.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Super Meat Boy rocks, and you got its two innovations down perfectly great job

    ReplyDelete
  5. That last paragraph sums it up nicely. I'll admit to wanting to hate the game based on the name alone, but I got over that all too quickly (took all of two deaths and finally after 29, seeing that hilarious replay, I was hooked in).

    Still, I really wish this would hit the DS at some point (along with a few other Live or WiiWare games) as many indie games are a more perfect fit on handhelds than as TV games in my opinion. Good games are indeed, worth paying a premium for packaged versions of.

    Say, Jeff - have you tried Spelunky or Cave Story yet? I'm interested to read your impressions on those...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think we owe the first innovation (and the style of game play in general) to N+ actually. Meat boy totally wins on the visuals though.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. As the shape ups time draws nigh when the whole business must be achieved, the clock must be consulted, and to each dish due tune allowed for the fire to complete what has been thus prepared. Now the cook must be collected as well as busy, that there may be no oversight of any kind (see art. ■' Cooking"). The vegetables and sauces must, in their preparation, keep pace with the dishes which they are to accompany, so that the order of the dinner may be carefully observed.1561. The dinner hour arrived, the cook commences serving such things as may, without injury, bo covered over, and plare.l for a short time on the hot hearth, or in the hot closet (see " Kitchen Apparatus"). Dut choice or important skechers shape ups dishes she refrains from serving until the order for dinner has been given from the drawing-room. Then all hands are at work. shape ups skechers The cook takes immediate charge of fish, soup, and poultry. The kitchen-maid (in some houses assisted by the under housemaid) dishes vegetables, and pours gravies and «auces iuto tureens. The scullion waits the bidding of the cook. All are thus busy, and yet without con fusion.1502. skechers shoes The serving table (in some kitchens heated with steam) is covered with a clian ninth, and the first coarse is set upon it, and carried thence by the footmen, in regular order, to the butler in the dining-room. The cook's constant aim should be shape ups shoes to serve her dinner neatly, and* above even-thing, to scud it up hot. it '-old. her painstaking in all other respects will avail little. Also, of the second course she Bhould time judi "iotisly the dishing; if deferred too long, an awkward shape ups boots lapse in the dining-room will occur; if loo soon, some tt the light and fancy dishes, such as omelettes aud fundus, may be injured. •1563.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Guitar Hero from my personal perspective I resolved my concerns artisitc real, I do not want to play at being a musician, I really want to play this kind of music I can listen to Guitar Hero, I congratulate the people I collaborate in this concern.

    Erectile Dysfunction

    ReplyDelete
  11. The game sounds unique and amusing labatterie I don't say that often.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jeff, you sold me. Thanks for the nice review! Your comments on the replay feature in particular helped me appreciate it that much more.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Application of Sewage North Face Womens Jackets for Purposes of Irrigation In our Report on the Thames,(pages 12 to 15,) we have described at some length the modes of sewage irrigation as practised at Croydon, Norwood, Worthing, G star raw Carlisle, and Edinburgh; we have little to add to this account other than that experience confirms the practice of this mode of disposing of sewage. In the course of our inquiry we have received evidence as to its advantage. At this time, April 18th, there are crops of Italian rye-grass at Worthing grown under sewage irrigation, which are being cut at the rate of from five to eight tons to the acre, whilst adjoining pasture-lands are almost bare. A small dairy has been established, the cows being stall-fed on the cut grass; the milk produced, from its richness and superior quality, G star jeans commanding a preference in the town. A sewage farm requires special and peculiar management; the operations should be specially adapted to this mode of culture, and then it will be found that any land may be improved. The operations do not turn clay lands into swamps, although 60 inches in depth of sewage are added by irrigation to the rainfall. The dressings with sewage must be even and at regulated intervals. In all cases sewage should be used fresh, that is before putrescence has set in, so as to Skechers Coupons prevent any effluvium arising from the irrigated land. Where this is the case there cannot be any just grounds for complaint. Where clay lands are irrigated, and the contour of the land will admit of the operation, a second and even a third use of the water may be made with advantage.Sewage irrigation works cannot be too simple in their character; the application should be by surface carriers, not by underground piping and hose and jet. Land which has been worked in ridge and furrow will require levelling, that is the soil should be stripped or the ground be broken up so as to bring the surface even. Main carriers should be laid in nearly level lines so as to Shape Ups Reviews command the area below, and secondary carriers at from half a chain to one chain apart should contour the entire surface. The main carriers may be covered in, having valves or sluice-boards of an inexpensive and simple kind to retain and let out sewage as required. The main carriers will be of brick or of earthenware pipes in size proportioned to the volume of sewage to be distributed. Conduits below 18 inches in North Face Outlet Sale diameter may be made most cheaply of earthenware pipes : brickwork may be cheaper for conduits of larger cross-sections. Small carriers may be formed with common agricultural tiles, but jointed and laid only three parts in the soil, so that one tile or more than one tile can be removed temporarily at any point to allow of surface overflowing at such points when the tiles are removed for this purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  14. We've seen a lot of strange ad campaigns, but dsquared2 clothing 's Fall-Winter 2010/2011 shots may take the clothing dsquared clothes cake. fsdlklijfeq We understand the museum dsquared t shirts SPRING SUMMER 2011 CAMPAIGN - Here is our first dsquared shirts look at the spring ... Read article. ... The CK Power Dsquared2 of Ms. Stone

    ReplyDelete
  15. In my opinion, having a dofollow blog is really a wonderful idea. It helps in increasing the traffic on the blog. Thank you.
    Naples Hotels

    ReplyDelete
  16. Preserve em arriving a person just about all perform these types of an incredible profession from this sort of Ideas cannot let you know exactly how substantially We, for just one value whatever you perform!
    wilson tennis rackets
    pandora jewelry sale
    wilson blx
    GHD straightener
    Christian Louboutin pumps.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing? I have a presentation incoming week, and I am on the lookout for such information.
    Hermes replica
    hermes birkin replica
    Hermes Handbags

    ReplyDelete
  18. Questo è un sito fantastico e non posso consigliare voi ragazzi abbastanza. Pieno di risorsa utile e di grande layout molto facile sugli occhi. Si prega di tenere questa grande opera ... Judi Online

    ReplyDelete
  19. To create a such kind of article is really amazing,I daily read your blogs and give my announcement for that here this article is too great and so entertaining. Agen Bola Terpercaya

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hey, just looking around some blogs, seems a pretty nice platform you are using. I'm currently using Wordpress for a few of my sites but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?
    Also visit our website :
    IONCASINO
    SBOBET
    IBCBET
    SBOBET CASINO 338A
    855CROWN
    ISIN4D
    NEOTANGKAS
    368MM

    ReplyDelete