Super Meat Boy is an unforgiving fast-paced platform-jumper game published by Team Meat in 2010.

Meat Boy is the name of our protagonist. No, it’ s not a lewd stage name. Meat Boy is literally a cube of raw red meat with arms, legs, and a face. The love of his life is Bandage Girl who, as you might guess, is an anthropomorphic Band-Aid. If you’re confused, so am I. I feel like I’m missing a joke. Are these two paired because Meat Boy is literally dripping blood and Bandage Girl is an item meant to absorb blood? I don’t know.

Anyway, there’s trouble in paradise when the evil Dr. Fetus kidnaps Bandage Girl because nobody loves him. Yes, Dr. Fetus is apparently a human fetus who gets around by piloting a mechsuit wearing a monocle (the mechsuit has an oversized monocle on its helmet bubble, not the fetus inside it). Okay, I admit, the monocled mechsuit image is kind of funny, as you long as you don’t dwell too much on why Dr. Fetus isn’t living in a uterus. Especially combined with Dr. Fetus’s characteristic of being unloved. I’m assuming a silly action game isn’t aiming to take a serious stance on abortion.

So your goal is to rescue Bandage Girl in every level before Dr. Fetus snatches her away again. The levels are strewn with dangers like spike pits, fire, and buzz saws. Many of the levels are extremely unforgiving where the slightest misstep will result in a quick death. Even an experienced gamer will probably die multiple times in most levels. The controls are simple, movement and jump keys, wall jumps are an important component.

I got through the levels in the first world without too much trouble. I mean, I died half a dozen times in some of them, but failing is quick and after a few more tries I’d get it. I found the controls when playing as Meat Boy rather unforgiving–beating a level would consist of having to keep track of exactly what spot I need to jump from to clear this buzzsaw without hitting the next one, that kind of thing. I wouldn’t say that kind of memorization is really fun, but I could get through it.

A few levels later I was able to unlock another playable character, Commander Video (from his own game Bit.Trip Runner, apparently) who has the major benefit of being able to hover Princess Peach style, so if you don’t hit a jump just perfectly you can have the hover as a kind of safety net. He looks like a ninja, but leaves a rainbow trail when he hovers which I thought was funny. Using Commander Video was more fun to me, and I figured I could play this game after all.

But then I got to the end of the first world to the first boss match, in which Dr. Fetus is piloting a gigantic chainsaw wielding mech and is trying to kill you with it. You have to jump through a densely packed set of buzzsaws while simultaneously fleeing the mech. The rest of the levels I took a half-dozen tries and got through the whole world in twenty minutes or so. Unfortunately with the boss battle Meat Boy was the only character option so I couldn’t use the more playable Commander Console during this most difficult of levels. I tried the level a few dozen times and generally died in about the same place. I could see what I was supposed to do but to time it just perfectly without any time to try it a second time without dying proved frustrating and extremely tedious. Certain kinds of challenges would keep me coming back to prove myself, but at this point, after playing the game for an hour and a half or so, the only reaction I have when I think about trying the boss battle again is tedium. The game hadn’t been good enough before that point to convince me that pushing past this is worth the effort. And if the first boss battle is like that, I suspect the later ones are even worse.

Visuals
Kind of a fun cartoon look though there are creepy components, like the forest animals that flee from you into buzzsaws.

Challenge
Plenty of challenge, but of the “die on the same jump two-thirds of the way through a level dozens of times until you’d rather hit yourself in the head with a hammer than try that level again” variety. Not the kind of challenge that I find appealing.

Story
Not much of it. Not every game has to have a story, of course, but if would’ve been nice if a token plot had been chosen that wasn’t rescuing helpless damsel.

Playability
Playing the game is straightforward–movement and jumping, an extra jump to hover if you’re Commander Console. Each of the levels is quick whether you succeed or fail, which does make it easy to play even if you only have a few minutes at a time.

Replayability
Not much incentive to replay, it seems.

Originality
High, I suppose, though it does feel a little bit like choosing character traits by Mad Libs.

Playtime
Not sure, I couldn’t stand to play it more than a couple of hours, so not sure what it takes to get through the whole game.

Overall
I wouldn’t recommend this game. There are better platform jumpers out there, no matter what you’re looking for, and it seems to base most of its challenge on forced repetition on hard jumps that quickly just become tedious. It’s list price on Steam is $15.

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