The story is a classic retro arcade game story. In short: save the girl (in this case, a character called Bandage Girl). As the game explains in its hilarious intro video, you play as Meat Boy, who feverishly loves Bandage Girl. The poultry-crossed lovers are separated only by Dr. Fetus, the game's antagonist. Therefore, in true retro game fashion, the only way to settle their petty disagreement is to kidnap Bandage Girl, place her into precarious positions in the levels, and make them progressively difficult to reach. What? A nice game of rock-paper-scissors wouldn't have worked? I'm sure there are simpler ways to settle arguments, but you can't mess with the classics. There's little more to the story than that, but it isn't even close to being a damaging concern. What little story Super Meat Boy has is displayed with such humour that I couldn't wait for the next little video I was rewarded with. In fact, if Team Meat put out a DVD of just the cutscenes from the game I'd probably snap that up too. The small intro cutscene to the very first chapter had me in stitches for almost half an hour, and every time I think about it I burst out laughing again.
The gameplay. That's what you're all here for. You're waiting for me to tell you if it's really as simple as it looks; if it's really just jumping over obstacles and avoiding buzz saws to get to an abstract pink square. My answer? Yes. Yes it is, and it's the most addictive thing in the world. Wall-jumping like the Mario Bros. and running away from the 'rising screen' like the Ice Climbers is the easiest thing you'll do in the game, but getting the timing and balance down is entirely different. You may be able to effortlessly jump to that platform with a buzz saw on it, but can you prevent your greasy self from sliding into it? Super Meat Boy harkens back to a time when a game required true skill to master the levels. A time where if you died, there was only one cause: you. In Super Meat Boy you're never left in confusion as to the cause of death. You didn't die because some random event occurred, you died because at that particular moment in time, you sucked. So, naturally, you paid for it with your life. The game is split up into the instantly recognizable chapter format (think Super Mario Bros.), with each chapter containing 20 levels and a boss. On top of all that, once you manage to complete a level within the time limit, you're able to flip into the Dark World - an inverse universe containing the same levels at an increased difficulty. Each level features a bandage that can be collected to unlock characters from other well-known indie games, like Tim from Braid, Pink Knight from Castle Crashers, and Alien Hominid. Some bandages are hidden extremely well, while others taunt you from plain sight but are next to impossible to get. There are 12 unlockable characters in total, each with their own special skill set that enables the player to go back and get previously unreachable bandages and beat their old times.
If that wasn't enough, there's also the much talked about 'Teh Internets,' an exclusive to the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game that allows Team Meat to update the game with new levels free of charge via a loophole in Microsoft’s terms. Once the PC version releases the level editor, the developers will pick from the barrage of levels created by the community.
There's not much more to say about Super Meat Boy other than this: buy it right now. The game will be available to buy from the moment you're reading this AND it was announced that the game will be available to buy, on release, for the sale price of 800 Microsoft Points before going back up to its usual price of 1,200 Microsoft Points. So that's even more of a reason to go and buy it sooner rather than later, you won't regret it. The game might induce rage, but when you realize that you were the one in the wrong you'll be crawling back to it. It reminds me of Joss Whedon constantly going back to Fox (SHABAM!). Super Meat Boy is a game I love, despise, and adore all in one. It's the best game on the Xbox Live Arcade so far and has the best longevity.