Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Super Meat Boy! Hard As Nails platformer!

This is the first post I intend to write about Super Meat Boy. It is not a review of the game, that will be part 2 of this series. This is an look at its challenges. A review for hard core C to S class gamers if you will.

There was a time long ago, long before I was a blogger, poet, student or novella writer, a time when I was purely a gamer. In that time I thought Sonic and Mario were the hardest platformers I had ever played. The Master System Sonics and the Gameboy Super Mario Land were the hardest I had played. I was never able to finish Sonic at the time and I have to this day only completed Super Mario Land twice.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I discovered a new Monarch for the crown of hardest platformer I have ever played, it's name? Super Meat Boy. I still haven't completely finished the game. Oh I have beaten the final boss in both the Light World and Dark World, so I have actually in a sense achieved base completion of the game.

However, there is a lot to the game, and this is partly what adds to it truly being a Hard As Nails platformer. Super Mario Land for the Game Boy was hard because of the rolling screen, tiny sprite characters and no save points. Sonic was hard because it had plenty of death traps, enemies etc but mainly because you couldn't save.

Remove those factors and suddenly Sonic and Mario aren't that hard. Super Meat Boy on the other hand, well let's break it down.

1. SMB has a fair few short levels, but they require a certain intensity and high level of concentration. It looks deceptively easy and that is the point, deceptively! If you look at the first level of the first world, it looks pretty easy. Move onto later levels and the challenge becomes easy to see.

Compare this, the third level...

To this, one of 3 sequential levels required to unlock The Kid

2. Certain types of levels are particularly hard. Personally I think the hardest standard SMB levels are Hell and The Rapture, both have notorious death traps and quite tricky jumps even by SMB standards. Together Hell and The Rapture have the hardest enemies in the whole game: brown ghosts, laser eyes (a bit like miniature tech versions of the Eye of Mordor)  and arguably worst of all portal dragon bat things.

3. Different levels of difficulty for varied levels of gamer. I would say the levels range from a medium level of platforming gaming experience to super hard core or C class to S class gamer. If you are the kind of gamer who doesn't rage quit or slowly but steadily finishes a game with patience, then you can probably minimum base complete the game, i.e. defeat Dr. Fetus in the Light World.

4. Continuing with the previous point, Your Mileage May Vary, to use the trope name. The game is difficult for different levels of gamers. C class gamers might struggle to beat the minimum of 17 Light World missions per level (no A plus ranks needed) required to get TO the Light World final boss, but an S class gamer might struggle to get all the A plus ranks for every level in the game including 'Teh Internets' and Cotton Alley.

5. Xbox achivements: although easier and considerably fewer than all the Steam requirements, the 12 Xbox achievements on SMB are still very hard. I consider myself a B class SMB gamer, maybe borderline A class on a good day but I still find the achievements are challenging indeed. Unlocking The Kid as a playable character is said to be the most difficult achievement to achieve.

Now over to you Norman Osborn!

 Thank you Geordie Green Lantern. Today I approve of Hard As Nails platformers.

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