Super Meat BoySuper Meat Boy should come with optional controller insurance. It’s the sort of game where you’ll come close to smashing your controller against the wall after continually missing a jump and smashing your little meat man into a rotating saw. It’s the sort of game that, when you finally make the jump and complete the level, you look around the room to see if anyone else just saw what you did. The blank looks from your wife or your dogs won’t be able to stop the pure joy you’ll get from finally reaching the end of the level.
Super Meat Boy is, of course, one of the greatest and most frustrating platformers to exist. Playing as a square chunk of meat, your goal is to save Bandage Girl from Fetus Man. Like a horror version of Super Mario Brothers that has spawned from your nightmares, you’re tasked with making your way through short levels of doom and torture, which are full of brutal devices that turn your little meat man into a huge splatter of red. Every time you fail, you leave a mark of red meat juice wherever you jumped or landed.
Yet, with great failure (eventually) comes success. Depending on your skill level (and whether you’re a platforming God), you may pass through a level quickly, but more often than not your mortal form will cause you to die a fair few times before reaching that ever-so-sweet glory that is the end. Fortunately, Super Meat Boy doesn’t ever let intense frustration set in, as whenever you die you’re immediately thrown back to the start of the level. Reach the end, and all of your failures play in synchronicity, with your successful run bursting out of the pack like Steven Bradbury going for gold.
Each world consists of twenty levels, and instead of relying on the completion of each level to unlock the next, you’re free to pick and choose the level you want to tackle in whatever order you like. Complete a set amount of levels and you can tackle the boss of that world. These boss levels are well thought-out and feel unique enough to provide a different challenge. Take the Salt World’s boss for example; a boss who you battle in a world much like the infinite runner game Canabalt, making the world feel unique and also a nice homage.
Now, you may wonder, “why on Earth are you covering Super Meat Boy given it’s been around for about five years, Andrew?” Well, thanks for asking! Finally – after years of waiting, Super Meat Boy is on Sony’s current platforms. “So what,” you may reply, “I’ve already gotten Super Meat Boy five times over in various Humble Bundles and when I accidentally bought it in a Steam sale even though I already had it.” The XBox version was great and the PC version worked wonderfully with controller support, but the real boon here is the presence of Super Meat Boy on the PlayStation Vita.
The Vita has always been a great home for platformers and has created many great moments on the go. Finally, having Super Meat Boy on the Vita means it’s easier to take your frustrations with you out on the road. The Vita’s two thumbsticks are nice and easy to use and help with the ultra-precise platforming that’s required here. Often hardcore fighting fans will talk about frame counting, well, that’s almost as relevant here. Super Meat Boy‘s quick death helps build muscle memory for the levels, and the Vita’s small yet clear screen makes those jumps all the more easier to navigate.
It’s not all smiles and teary laughter, though, as the major change to Super Meat Boy is in the music. For legal reasons, the original music by Danny Baranowsky hasn’t been included. Instead, there’s a whole new soundtrack created by Ridiculon, David “Scattle” Scattlife, and Laura Shigihara; the minds behind the music from Hotline Miami, Plants VS Zombies, and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Whilst this music isn’t horrible, it simply cannot replace the original soundtrack, which was such a huge part of the personality of the game. Just like Hotline Miami and its frequent deaths and quick restarts, the music plays constantly in the background, rather than resetting after each death. This helps build the rhythm and momentum required to complete levels, making each death flow into the next. My suggestion would be to find yourself a copy of the original soundtrack and listen to that whilst playing on the go.
Besides new music, there really isn’t anything to provide a new experience for seasoned fans of the game. Yes, these are the same great levels, and they will challenge you and make you grow grey hairs in places you didn’t realise you could get them, but unless you’re willing to really challenge yourself and push you platforming skills to the limit, then you’ve probably already played this once before and decided it wasn’t for you. For those that are up for the challenge though, the presence of the ever-lucrative Platinum trophy is there, which will set apart the platforming wimps from the platforming wizards. Even though my heart will always remain with platformers, in this circumstance I will firmly fall in the realm of being a platforming wimp. The alternative versions of each world and the secret warp zones provide possibly the greatest challenge for platforming fans out there. Before too long, you’ll be cashing in on that controller insurance you got earlier as you throw your controller against the wall after missing another jump… Your little meat man dies again, whilst your fingertips get bloodier.
With the PlayStation 4’s large install rate, hopefully a whole new generation of gamers will discover curse words that don’t exist yet through the ultra-punishing, yet exceptionally designed levels. For fans of the game, like myself, you’ll probably already have this game on the other platforms that it’s long been available for. It’s old enough now that it may be a wonderful nostalgia trip for some, but for newcomers, this is just another avenue to playing one of the greatest platformers there is. No PlayStation Vita should be without it.