Super Meat Boy – Review (For Busy Dads)

Super Meat Boy logo

 Super Meat Boy

I’ve decided my first review for the “Busy Dads” (and moms) series, will be a game that sets the bar for pick-up-and-go gaming! Super Meat Boy! This game definitely isn’t news to many, but for those of you dads that haven’t had the time to keep up with every game that comes out, I’ll give you a brief overview before we dive in.

Basically it’s a platformer. The levels are designed to take about 10 – 30 seconds to complete, and when you die, you respawn instantly, making it very easy to try again, and again… and again. Super Meat Boy, was released on Xbox Live Arcade in October of 2010. Even though this game is half a decade old already, it’s a title that will surely stand the test of time. The game has received a lot of praise for it’s precise controls, artwork, music, and level design. You can find out more about Super Meat Boy,  on Wikipedia, and plenty of reviews on Google. But this game review isn’t for the average gamer! It’s for dads with busy lives that can’t seem to fit gaming into their schedule anymore. So lets see what makes SMB a good fit for us.


 

Pause-abilitysomeone talking to me while i play video games: (pause game meme)

Like I stated in the last post, a game needs to be easy to pause. It’s one of the most crucial factors in a game for us dads with small children. It’s crucial that we can attend to our families needs at the moment they need us. If a game isn’t pause-able at that exact moment, it could mean losing a match, a life, or losing progress in our game, which is a huge discouragement. So how does SMB hold up to “pause-ability”?

Like I said, this game was picked by me to set the bar for our standards, so you’ve probably already guessed it’s a pass. But better yet, the game, at its core, is designed for very fast, very short levels, so even if you happen to miss the pause button when it’s your turn to change that dirty diaper, it doesn’t matter. Most levels in Super Meat Boy only take about 10 seconds to beat.

Before the final verdict, I should note, that cutscenes are not pause-able. I’m going to exclude this from the rating because every video can be re-viewed anytime, as many times as you want. Just go back to the level where the cutscene was, and it will play again, exactly as it did, the first time you missed it!

The Verdict

Every second of the game play is pause-able. And if you fail to pause for some reason, there is literally no penalty to dying in anyway. You can’t get set back, you don’t have lives, and you won’t lose progress. This games pause-ability is a perfect 10/10

Pause-ability ~ 10/10


 

Story Dependency

Another big thing to avoid in games, as busy fathers, is story dependency. What I mean more specifically, is that we need to avoid games where the game play itself depends on story elements inside the game. This doesn’t rule out all story driven games, but if you have to talk to 20 NPC’s and read a diary to figure out where you left off since last time, then you’re less likely to pick the game up when you only have 30 – 40 minutes on the clock.

That being said, Super Meat Boy has some simple story elements, which are given to you in the form of comical cut scenes. The cut scenes are completely irrelevant to the game play itself, and really are just there to help tie in the theme of each world you visit. In now way what so ever, do you need to know a dam thing about the game’s story to play!

The Verdict

Another easy verdict! 10/10

Story Dependency ~ 10/10

 

Time to Gameplay

For this one, we want to know just how long it takes to turn the game on, and actually play. This section get it’s rating from two parts.

  1. How long it takes to start a new game
  2. How long it takes to get back into a game, that you already started

So, in my very specific case, I own SMB on steam and am using an HP 15 TS Notebook PC, with a AMD A4-6210 APU/AMD Radeon R3 Graphics  and 4GB RAM. For you non-techies, my laptop cost about $600 CAD in 2015.  It’s really not meant for gaming, but it handles any performance-light game like SMB easily.

It took 24.3 seconds to boot up the game, go through the title screen, select a level, skip the cutscene, and make Meat Boy start running.  This is incredibly fast! SMB doesn’t have a story you have to be engaged in (you can if you want), and there’s no character set up or any other BS. Just play it, and that’s it! Although the exact time will very, depending on what system your playing on, I would expect boot up time would be similar on Xbox and most PC’s.

For part 2, this game is exactly the same! It doesn’t take more, or less time to get into game play if you already have a game started.

The Verdict

This is a tough thing for me to do. It sounds like a perfect 10/10, but in truth there are many games on XBLA, PSN, Steam, and dam me if I say, Flash games on websites like Newgrounds. Not all of these games are as bad ass as Super Meat Boy, but this section of the review doesn’t rate a game on it’s bad-ass-ery, just the time it takes to play, so regretfully I give this a 9/10

Time to Gameplay 9/10


 

Skip-able Cutscenes

This is something that is important in a game. Even if the game scores high on “story dependency”, the score isn’t much use to us if the snippets of story can’t be bypassed somehow. As busy gamer dads, we at least need the option. I realize this one might seem like a binary, either cutscenes are skip-able, or they’re not. But I have come across games, where not all cinematics are treated equally, and sometimes videos can be skipped, while others can’t.

In the case of SMB, ALL cutscense are skip-able!

The Verdict

Need I say?

Skip-able Cutscenes ~ 10/10


 

Difficulty

How tough are you? Duke Nuke'em difficulty select screen

In my last blog I talked about the saddest fact of an aging gamer. You’re going to have to start playing on easy mode, if you really want to finish any of the games you buy. Even if the game has no difficulty setting, you want something that has a fine balance of challenge, and reward. As a hard working care-taker you’re simply not going to have the time to master any rougelikes or beat every game on Legendary. 

When Super Meat Boy was first launched, this was one of the only bad things critics had to say. Depending on you’re personality, the game might just be too hard for some gamers. Unfortunately I have to agree.

This shouldn’t discourage you from at least trying the game however. Edmund McMillan, did an excellent job designing the beginning levels.  Each level only requires the most basic of skills to beat. As you learn the different ways that Meat Boy, can be controlled, the game subtly insures these skills are mastered before increasing in difficulty.

The only problem you might run into, is that the game does hit a point, where it becomes so challenging, you might no be able to beat a level, in a 30 minute session, even though the level itself only takes about 15 seconds.

This is definitely a game for gamers that like being punished. Even if the consequences of dying are low, dying won’t beat levels any more than a saint would beat his Meat Boy (like that?). The further you get in the game, the more likely you will die 100+, if not 1000+ times per level. I’m NOT kidding!

The Verdict

There are many arguments that could be made to compensate for the difficulty of this game. If you’re a busy dad who is seeking a game that is quick to pick up, but yet, still very challenging, this game is perfect. But since it is such a difficult game, and the main goal, and ultimate objective in our 30 minutes is to make progress, I’m going to have to go low with this one. Being too difficult is a bad thing for us. It’s very likely, that if you are as busy as I usually am, you just won’t have enough time to get to the skill level required to beat this game in it’s entirety. This doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s still a very, VERY good game, but keep this part of the review in mind. 5/10

Difficulty ~ 5/10


 

 In Conclusion

Super Meat Boy is the first review in this series, and I’m sure the formula can use some fine tuning. For now, I’m going to rate games on these five core aspects, and divide the total by five, to get our final result.

Super Meat Boy, gets a Busy Dad Score of 9/10

This game sets the bar for reviews moving forward. I don’t want to waste your time by reviewing games that don’t compete with this amazing title. If there are any games that you’ve been thinking about playing, but haven’t been convinced to spend the dough based on your tight schedule, let me know in the comments below.

 

Cheers!

Dan

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