Super Meat Boy (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 12.01.2018 4

Review for Super Meat Boy on Nintendo Switch

There's a good reason most indie platformers are compared to Super Meat Boy in some capacity. From its brutal difficulty, fast-paced level design, incredible soundtrack, and casual approach to death, it didn't take long for developers to take inspiration from Team Meat's tour de force for their own platformers. Eight years later, and still as relevant as ever, Super Meat Boy has made its way to Nintendo Switch. With one major change from its original release, does a re-examination of one of those most influential, modern platformers reveal flaws previously unseen, or does it retain all the good will it's built up in the passing years?

Without a keen ear or familiarity with the original release, it's easy enough to get tricked into believing Super Meat Boy for the Nintendo Switch is a 1:1 port that offers an authentic experience, albeit on new hardware. Meat Boy controls exactly as he once did and the stages are completely untouched. What exactly could be wrong, then? The one, and only, issue with this port is the lack of Danny Baranowsky's soundtrack. Instead, a replacement score has been transposed over every track in the game, providing a tone and atmosphere not entirely in line with the original release.

Music is a core aspect of any game's identity. A good soundtrack can enhance an experience and a poor one can hamper it. For Meat Boy, Baranowsky's soundtrack perfectly established each setting, raised the stakes when appropriate, and was generally good enough where tracks could be listened to out of context while still retaining their listenability. The same cannot be said for the new compositions. There is not a single track that comes close to capturing the scale Baranowsky embedded into his music. At best, they are pale imitations of what came before. At worst, they are tone deaf tracks that can't read a scene.

As bad as the music is, however, it is important to remember that the actual game side has remained unsullied. When it comes down to it, the overall identity is hurt with the new score, but it's not hurt so much where it's not enjoyable. By design, stages are short, sweet, and to the point. More than any other console, the Nintendo Switch capitalises on this through its portability. Running through a few levels as Meat Boy feels natural on Switch. The game design already encouraged short bursts of play, but now the hardware truly promotes it, and makes it feel "right."

Screenshot for Super Meat Boy on Nintendo Switch

While fitting to play in short bursts, it's more than likely to sit down for a few levels and end up clearing an entire world. Super Meat Boy's level design is addictive and rewarding in the best ways possible. Each level is short, almost always shorter than a minute, but they are also difficult. Dying happens often, but levels are so small that they don't need checkpoints. As a result, death never feels like a roadblock and players are never put in a position where they have lost a large amount of progress.

It certainly helps playability that every stage is well designed, sometimes with multiple objectives that encourage immediate replaying. Bandages can be collected to unlock new characters and some levels have Warp Zones that lead to another set of stages. The best incentive to replay, however, is the rank system. There are two ranks Meat Boy can get at the end of a stage: no rank or an A+. No rank will simply allow him to continue to the next sequence in the World, but an A+ will unlock a new stage in the Dark World version of whatever World he's currently in. This is the best reward possible in a platformer this addictive: more content. Worlds quickly go from 20 stages and a boss to 40 just by doing well.

Good level structure and plenty of content hardly mean anything if the controls aren't in sync with the design, however. In theory, the way Meat Boy controls is counterintuitive to good platforming. He's slippery, builds speed almost unproductively fast, and jumps comically far and high. His mechanics are a recipe for disaster, but he doesn't feel like a disaster at all. What he can do with his move-set is relatively simple, but the levels are always thoughtful with enough breathing room where his slipperiness, speed, and jumps are appropriate. Meat Boy controls awkwardly for another platformer, but perfectly for Super Meat Boy which shows just how consciousness Team Meat was in regards to the gameplay.

The very nature of the design encourages fast play, so of course Meat Boy is going to build up speed fast and slip through levels. He's never meant to lose momentum. Optimally, the goal is to be running and jumping, instinctively. More than anything, it is death that teaches players how to control Meat Boy. Since death is fast and respawning is faster, muscle memory can be built for a stage rather reliably and, in turn, condition the player into understanding how to move Meat Boy reliably. It's a style of design that goes completely unnoticed, but it's one that deserves acknowledgement.

While it is disappointing that Super Meat Boy now lacks its standout soundtrack, the gameplay is as great as ever and the Nintendo Switch's inherent portability adds a new layer to the short burst game design. It may not be the authentic experience, but it's still an experience worth having.

Screenshot for Super Meat Boy on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Nearly eight years later, Super Meat Boy remains a master class in balancing difficulty into engaging level design. The quirk burst level structure holds up incredibly well, allowing players to fail repeatedly without getting discouraged as the goal is always just a few seconds of gameplay away. As more content unlocks by clearing stages with an A+, collecting bandages, and finding Warp Zones, it's incredibly easy to play "just one more level" for hours on end. Unfortunately, the replacement score pales in comparison to Danny Baranowsky's original soundtrack, but the core gameplay is strong enough where this can be overlooked even if longtime fans will surely be disappointed. For anyone who hasn't played Super Meat Boy, though, there's little reason not to give it the chance it more than deserves.

Developer

Team Meat

Publisher

BlitWorks

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Two things I'm intrigued about:

1.) What's the multiplayer side like?
2.) What's the deal with the soundtrack? Was there a falling out with the guy or something??

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

They weren't very explicit when it came on the PS4 and Vita as to why the soundtrack had been changed, as I recall. I would imagine it was some sort of dispute with the composer, but that would be perfect speculation.

Does this have the all the extra "Internetz" content that's in the awesome Xbox and PC versions? Or is it not in the game like the crappy PS4/Vita versions?

Adam Riley said:
Two things I'm intrigued about:

1.) What's the multiplayer side like?
2.) What's the deal with the soundtrack? Was there a falling out with the guy or something??


1) Multiplayer is pretty harmless and just kind of there. It's a racing mode where you and a buddy power through a world from start to finish. I don't think it's really that memorable, but it could make for some fun competitive videos. Maybe Games Done Quick can make something neat out of it. It definitely feels suited for that kind of event. 

2) Baranowsky made a comment around the time of SMB's PS4 release that implied he wasn't offered enough money for him to justify relicensing the sountrack to Team Meat. Judging by the fact he was let go from BoI: Rebirth's soundtrack, I'd wager there's probably bad blood. 

Jeffyg3 said:
Does this have the all the extra "Internetz" content that's in the awesome Xbox and PC versions? Or is it not in the game like the crappy PS4/Vita versions?

Unless it's unlockable, which I doubt, nope.

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