Admittedly, the times may be passing me by. 200 million of America's 300-odd million residents are on Facebook, but I'm not, nor have I ever had any interest in it. I don't want a Smartphone. I don't even want a cellphone, really, but I feel obligated to have one. I completely cannot understand the appeal of Apple products, reality shows, dubstep or Shia Labouf.
So I'm probably just an ancient-before-my-time codger soon to be yelling at clouds. But on my list of "things that appear terrible to me but many other people fap themselves to the moon over" is this new trend in indie platformers where you battle seemingly intentional sloppy, slidey control in over-difficult levels. We talked about it a bit before here with the godawfully-named VVVVVV. I think the genesis of it all was I Wanna Be The Guy, which I kinda liked because at the time it was a clear joke game, had a good sense of humor and genuinely impressive boss battles ... and was also free. I just read somewhere that Super Meat Boy has now sold 1 million copies. That's a fairly impressive number for a major console release from a big publisher, and an astounding number for an indie Flash game that didn't have much marketing beyond word-of-mouth on forums and such. And I just have trouble seeing how that many people regard it as more than a meh-at-best platformer.
With VVVVVV, people have tried to explain to me that "Oh, the appeal is in checkpoints! Yeah, it's full of frustrating sequences, but you can try them again immediately without having to run back through the whole level!" That argument doesn't do anything for me at all. So it wastes less of my time to die at the same spot 100 times ... but I still don't find anything enjoyable about dying at the same spot 100 times. With Super Meat Boy, it's a Flash game (proud Newgrounds logo at the startup and all), so it uses that "one room per level" design style instead of checkpoints, but same difference. Yeah, you don't have to retread much ground when you hit one of the (many) pixel-perfect, slidey, sloppy, intentionally cheap and frustrating jumping contests. But why does that make them any better?
I dunno. Strong streaks of masochism and OCD in gamers, I guess. That or its some kind of hipsterism. I'm lost for any other explanation.
So yeah, Meat Boy is One Of Those Games, easily the most commercially successful one by far. It's cute enough, with an odd blend of gore and cartoony cheerfulness. I wanted to give the game a fair shake, and came into it with an open mind. But this is just a hundred miles from anything that I find fun.
While trying to understand why the hell people like this type of game and I just completely don't get it, I stumbled across this review
attempting to explain the appeal. It echoes the points people have made to me privately. The thing is, I don't think airlifting in the most frustrating bits of the worst old 8-bit era games and giving you a quicker second go at them makes them any more "digestible." It's just a shit element repeated over and over and over in quicker proximity to each other. Great, you've isolated the worst bits of these old platformers and given me quicker access to them. Thanks bros, appreciate it.
I'm curious what the demographics are for Meat Boy fans. Is it newer-gen gamers who didn't actually experience shitty games like this in their childhoods, and thus somehow this type of badness is new and novel to them? Is it old-school gamers that somehow get some kind of nostalgia trigger? Is it really just some kind of retarted hipster thing? I'll probably never really know. The smushy, dark Flash graphics and "Newgrounds humor" didn't help the game's case with me either. I guess the soundtrack was decent tho.
Meat Boy is what it is. If you've never played any of these type of games before, play a free one first or some kind of demo before the "universal praise" leads you to throw money at it.