The anxiety was swallowing me whole.
I knew it wouldn’t be pleasant. Much less pretty. Anybody who had listened in to our banter knew it all too well.
It was my turn to be challenged in the weekly Podcast. And I knew my colleagues would take much delight in dredging up the sickest, most sadistic and most inappropriate game-related task that their twisted little minds could conceive. Hooboy.
So Matthew Fick laid it bare. He tried to take a game I enjoyed and turn it inwards against me. “List 10 things you hate about Super Meat Boy!“, he said. The steaks (sorry, couldn’t resist) were high on this one: failure to meet the criteria would result in public humiliation. So I lumbered on, like a good little soldier. Or an approximation thereof.
But Mr. Fick was to be foiled, for the task he bestowed upon me did not have the will-bending effect he had anticipated. In fact, I saw his challenge and raised him with not 10 but 11 criticisms levelled at my favourite vein-popping platformer. Let’s take it from the top whilst we all grab our mandatory grains of salt and keep our dictionaries open at the definition of “facetious”.
1) Cruelty to animals
Don’t let the cartoon-y facade fool you: Super Meat Boy takes a very disturbing delight in watching little animal critters suffer. Whether in the game proper or in the few cut-scenes, furry friends get burnt, mutilated and generally hurt in all manner of unnecessary ways. It’s like Happy Tree Friends, but less ironic. C’mon, what are we teaching our kids with this?!
Run, jump on platforms, reach your girlfriend at the end. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam. That’s pretty much Super Meat Boy‘s formula in a nutshell. And bear in mind that there’s hundreds of levels in this thing. It gets old kinda fast, hence why it’s best played in small doses.
The story – if you can call it that – is that Meat Boy has to rescue his girlfriend from a deranged foetus that has kidnapped her. Seriously? With all the controversy surrounding women in gaming, it’s in extremely poor taste to harken back to this offensive cliché.
4) Hostile to keyboard junkies
The game found a home on consoles, but anybody who knows me knows that I’m a pretty loyal PC player. Unfortunately, upon booting Super Meat Boy, you’re greeted with a screen promising you that the experience is better with a controller. Not just any controller, mind you, but an Xbox one. I mean, c’mon now. I have to spend even more money in this shameless plug for Microsoft just to enjoy a game I already paid money for? What the hell’s wrong with the keyboard, anyway? I’ve spent many years honing my keyboard-fu to be able to play any kind of game. What’s with the exclusion now?
5) Poor graphics
Pixel art is awesome. It features in many games and is an artform unto itself. But Super Meat Boy doesn’t honour this trend; it bastardizes it. The graphics are a poor, sloppy approximation of retro sensibilities fused with awkward, Flash-style graphics. It’s a mess and it doesn’t know where exactly it wants to sit. Your eyes will bleed.
The developers of the game didn’t have the imagination or originality to think up new characters, so they just resorted to blatantly stealing stuff from other indie games. Most likely without permission. And now they’re raking in millions for it. For shame, guys.
7) Dr. Fetus
In perhaps one of the most ill-conceived villain choices ever, the main antagonist in the game is a fetus in a robotic body. With such a hot debate raging about the legitimacy of protecting the unborn, it’s in extremely poor taste to make light of the whole affair. And c’mon: our hero is being foiled by a baby still attached to his umbilical cord?!
8) Demonization of hospitals
Nosocomephobia – the deep-seated fear of hospitals – is a recurring problem around the world and many people die annually from a failure to seek treatment for life-threatening conditions. Once again, Super Meat Boy decides to take an ill-informed approach, seemingly legitimizing a very real and utterly absurd phobia in its second chapter. This is clearly a game for enablers, but you’ve already realised that, haven’t you?
9) Burning down a forest
At the end of the first chapter, the game makes a cheap mockery of setting a forest on fire. It’s a very serious issue in which people and animals die every year, in addition to damaging the economy and polluting the environment. Poor form, Meat Boy, poor form.
10) One-screen levels
As mentioned previously, the game includes hundreds of levels. Many of which are tightly compact, others barely a screen in size. Clearly, they substituted “quality” for “quantity” here. There is no depth, as each level is a small nugget of frustration with all the substance of candy floss. Boring.
11) Very difficult
I saved the best for last. This game’s difficulty isn’t high. It doesn’t even qualify as “challenging”. Instead, it’s a brutal example of sadism that should be outlawed in the Geneva Conventions. It exists solely to torture you and enrage you to the point that you’ll have an aneurysm. Countless peoples have died millions of deaths trying to navigate the game’s unforgiving levels, and many mice and keyboards have perished in its wake. Let us rue the day that we ever said games had become too easy.
And that takes care of that. Who will I be challenging next? Tune in to the podcast to find out.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to feed the unicorns some rainbows…