Monday, March 28, 2011

Super Meat Boy is the Perfect Difficulty!

Super Meat Boy is the game that I have become so addicted to it is ridiculous. I play this  game at least five days week. The game continues to make me say “how the hell am I going to beat this” with it’s newly added expert remix levels. Right now I find myself stuck on the dark world version of rapture. I might find it impossible to beat these levels now, but I have come to understand that nothing is impossible. 
When I first got the game back in December, the game seemed impossible to start. I had already struggled through the demo the first time I tried it and I felt reluctant to buy. My friend insisted that it was pure gaming pleasure through and through. For Christmas my friend got me a Microsoft points card for 1600 points and then I had no more excuses not to buy the game. It took me two weeks into the game to realize that the difficulty was in the mind of the beholder. 
First couple of weeks I struggled to make it through the first three chapters. The hospital had kicked my butt and the salt factory made me want pee my pants in fear. Past the first three levels in the Forest the game does’t give you hints. The game had already seemed impossible to me at the point, how could I even continue on if I already wanted to throw in the towel? Then I looked no further than Meat Boy himself for my inspiration to playing the game. While I found my deaths to be annoying Meat Boy just kept coming  back to life. Death is not the enemy but the lesson I needed to learn in order conquer the game. 
The game makes you think there is no way out (hence the millions of saws the cut you to death). To any gamer millions of saws and usually only one little area to fit through means sudden death. I died repeatedly and still feared the saws. The saws had yet again conquered me. Then it hit me like a brick I had to overcome my fear of death! To long had other games been telling me that death was wrong by adding lives to increase difficulty. Super Meat Boy is the complete opposite that death is okay and you need to harness the power of death to conquer each level. 
The best way I can describe harnessing the power of dying is describing the hardest level I have beaten. The Cotton Alley is not something to laugh at as I have only beaten it through the light world. I have taken a swing at the dark world and have been crushed many of times. The only one I have beaten is a little level called Flipside. The idea simple the execution complex. The level features two narrow runways that shoot saws in opposite direction that you are running. The solution is complex in which you have to leap forward then move back to avoid the deadly saws. I call this trick “two steps forward, one step back.” In my attempts it took me about twenty minutes to beat the level which done perfectly is only a twenty-second level. 
The second way that I can also describe harnessing the power of death is in the fated Kid’s level. The first time I had ever played this level I almost fainted at the sight of the level. The crazy part about this level is that you see all your challagnes in front of you, but that does not take away from its diffculty. To earn the character ‘The Kid’ you must use his double jump skills in order to avoid the deadly spikes. The very first jump you take off the platform you must preform a double jump through spikes above and below you which is no easy task to accomplish. It took me three PBRs and one hour later to finally beat the first part of this level. Everything seemed impossible at first but once you buckle down and learn the mechanics of the double jump this level is something that you can accomplish in your lifetime. 
Now some of you might find this game to be needlessly hard but most of the games that we have come to love hard without warning. Super Meat Boy for the most part shows you all the obstacles you will face and some levels are even on one screen (and the hardest ones usually are on one screen). You usually get caught off guard the first couple of runs, but since death is okay your not afraid just to die to learn the level.  Mega Man probably my favorite series of all time is  never a fair game because it never warns you. Most of the time I'll be minding your own business and then ‘bam’ random robotic bird drops a rock on my head and I plummet to my death. Jump a gap, and I get shot from across the screen which leads to another cheap death. Mega Man 9 and 10 pushed my patients and frustrated me to the point of no return. I beat both of these games and never returned to play them again just because I found myself dying because of the games extreme difficulty. The problem is death is something to be avoided at all costs because once your lose all your lives its back to the beginning. I felt proud to beat Mega Man 9 and 10, but still fear the games difficulty to ever play them again.
Super Meat Boy changes the way I view difficulty in games. It has taught me to never assume what I see is as difficult. It has shown me that all along I have had to skill to overcome any saw that comes in my way. I say thanks Team Meat for showing me a lesson in the school of hard knocks. Yes, It took me a good two hours to beat The Kid’s level but never once did I feel like throwing my control full force at the screen. 


  1. I really liked the way you describe how the difficulty is in the mind of the beholder. And I love those new internet levels! One of my favorites is probably one that was made by an ass hole. You come out of a small room greeted by at least 10 laser guns lining the ceiling as you jump from platform to platform; only to realize that when you get to the end you have to go back above the guns while they are still shooting at you =P

  2. I like your write-up of Super Meat Boy. I've always been on the fence about picking this up, mostly because I had been so swallowed up in other games with too little time to pay attention to this one. I'm thinking I'm going to pick this up after reading this. Thanks! Keep up the good write-ups!

  3. @Alli893- Yeah, the level design is perfect. Sometimes your eyes can trick you. Sometimes levels with a lot of rockets can be easier while levels that have no sudden traps can be really hard. The PC version I heard has a level editor but really Team Meat makes the best levels and it shows.

    @Jon-If you have not gotten the game now go for it! It took me awhile to fall in love with the game but after some time I finally understood the genius of Super Meat Boy.

  4. I walked down to Best Buy today. I should have grabbed some Microsoft points. Next time, they will not escape me!

    Have you grabbed yourself a 3DS yet?