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Preview: Super Meat Boy [E3]

Super_Meat_BoySuper Meat Boy. It’s arguably the most anticipated game we have or ever will mention on this site; with legions of fans already on board thanks to the original Meat Boy release. Nearing a year of development time, the game is agonizingly close to its launch–and subsequent global takeover.

I was delighted to find a playable demo on the floor of E3 that I could get my sweaty mitts all over, and downright giddy to have Tommy Refenes (half of Team Meat) right there to guide me through.

The concept is simple, you assume Meat Boy, or any of the other host of unlockable characters including Alien Hominid, Gish and Tim from Braid, as you attempt to traverse levels of all shapes, sizes and difficulty to reach your goal: Bandage Girl waiting helplessly at the conclusion of each level. Once reached however, your love is quickly abducted by the villainous ass Dr. Fetus, who would just as soon spit in your cereal than let you be happy for a moment. That’s really the core concept, use your meaty hero to hug walls, jump off them, avoid danger and learn from your pratfalls to get it right the next time around. The game can get hard but never frustrating, there’s always a way to get through a troublesome part of a level, you just have to figure it out and execute when it’s time.

The controls are great, if you have a knack for the platfomer genre you’ll breeze through the first few levels without much trouble at all, but don’t worry trouble’s coming. I found that Meat Boy handles rather well with pinpoint landings, a boon considering the large amount of them. As you’d expect, timing is a huge component to not dying, experience is the name of the game and you’ll have to die to live on many of the levels.

SMB is deep, there’s stuff in this game we don’t even fucking know about. Sorry, I’m paranoid over the fact that I feel that I saw a lot of the game, and still know so little about it. Tommy tells me that there will be something amazing waiting for those who actually reach 100% completion, which will be no small feat. The features list appears to be endless so I’ll try to relate some that caught my attention:

Anytime you see something on screen other than gameplay you can skip right through (though I wouldn’t if you like being entertained.)

Dark World levels. I suck at them, as I apparently should. Each level in the game has a much more difficult Dark World version of it that can be accessed after completion of the standard version. Game Boy levels as well, I didn’t get a chance to play one but as I understand it they’ll equate to mini-challenges presented now and again to break up the standard level play.

At the completion of each level, the game snaps to an optional replay of your success, and if you happened to die a lot–like me–all of your failures as well. This makes for a hilarious scene of several (if not dozens) of Meat Boy’s launching in failed attempts as one eventually cuts ahead of the pack to reach Bandage Girl. It’s not huge, and nothing that would make the game by itself, but it’s the little things such as this that are generously poured all over the game that makes it an absolute ‘ya-gotta-play-dis’ not just for platformer fans, but for the gaming populous in general.

Super Meat Boy is currently targeted for later this year, with an Xbox 360 launch first, followed shortly Refenes assured by a PC, Mac (unconfirmed but mentioned) and WiiWare release.