Super Meat Boy is a 2010 platform game designed by Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes under the collective name of "Team Meat". It was self-published as the successor to Meat Boy, a 2008 flash game designed by McMillen and Jonathan McEntee. In the game, the player controls Meat Boy, a red, cube-shaped character, as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the game's antagonist Dr. Fetus. The gameplay is characterized by fine control and split-second timing, as the player runs and jumps through over 300 hazardous levels while avoiding obstacles. The game also supports the creation of player-created levels. Super Meat Boy was first released on the Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Arcade in October 2010, and was later ported to Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, and the Nintendo Switch.
Development of the game began in early 2009. McMillen worked on level design and artwork, while Refenes coded it. The game's soundtrack was written by Danny Baranowsky, who had also worked on the original Meat Boy. Super Meat Boy won several awards, and has been cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. Critics lauded the game's controls, art, soundtrack, and challenging gameplay. The game was also a commercial success, selling over a million copies by January 2012. A sequel, Super Meat Boy Forever, is in development.
Super Meat Boy is a platform game in which players control a small, dark red, cube-shaped character named Meat Boy, who must save his cube-shaped, heavily bandaged girlfriend Bandage Girl from the evil scientist Dr. Fetus. The game is divided into chapters, which together contain over 300 levels. Players attempt to reach the end of each level, represented by Bandage Girl, while avoiding crumbling blocks, saw blades, and various other fatal obstacles. The player can jump and run on platforms, and can jump off or slide down walls. The core gameplay requires fine control and split-second timing, and was compared to, regarding both gameplay and level of difficulty, traditional platform games such as Super Mario Bros. and Ghosts 'n Goblins.
Levels in each chapter can be played in any order, but a certain number of levels need to be completed to access the boss stage, which unlocks the next chapter if cleared. The player has an unlimited number of attempts to complete each level. If Meat Boy is killed, he immediately restarts the level, though the ornamental red meat juice left behind on surfaces that the player has touched remains. A replay function, which may be accessed after a level is completed, simultaneously shows all the player's attempts to complete the level. Completing a level within a certain time earns an "A+" grade, which unlocks a harder alternate version of the level in the "dark world", an optional set of especially difficult levels. Hidden stages called warp zones are accessed by finding portals in specific levels. These warp zones feature bonus levels that have either the art style of older video games and a limit of three lives, or are patterned after another indie video game such as Castle Crashers or Braid. The player may control characters other than Meat Boy, many of whom first appeared in other independent video games. Each character has different attributes, such as Commander Video's ability to momentarily float in midair. These characters can be unlocked by collecting bandage items placed throughout the game's levels or completing certain warp zones. Some bandages can only be collected by using certain characters. Some levels, such as warp zones and boss levels, can only be played with specific characters. The available characters vary depending on the version of the game played.
The Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) version features an unlockable mode called "Teh Internets", which is updated with new, free, officially curated levels. The PC version has a "Super Meat World" section, which allows users to play and rate additional levels that players have created with a level editor. This editor was released in May 2011. Players can also access an unsupported developer mode inside the game to edit their own levels using the "rough" tools that Team Meat used to create the game.
Meat Boy lives with his girlfriend Bandage Girl. One day, Bandage Girl is kidnapped by Dr. Fetus, an intelligent fetus in a life support suit. Meat Boy then goes after Fetus, until Fetus burns down the forest and tries to kill Meat Boy in his "Lil Slugger", which is destroyed after Meat Boy tricks him into running into a bunch of saws. Fetus escapes to a abandoned hospital, where Fetus unleashes C.H.A.D., a giant monster made of blood. Meat Boy shows the sun to the monster and redeems him, but then goes after Fetus, who goes to his Salt factory. There, a clone of Meat Boy made of human Feces called Brownie is created, leading to a race between the two, presumably killing Brownie. Fetus goes to Hell, where Meat Boy discovers that every time he dies, his corpse goes to Hell. Little Horn, a Meat Boy-esque monster made up of these corpses attacks Meat Boy and is killed after hitting his head 3 times. Fetus escapes and triggers a nuke, which opens a path to the top world. Meat Boy is lured to fight Larries Lament, 3 worms who inspire the Larry Jr. boss from Binding of Isacc, who he kills. In the final level, Dr. Fetus runs after Meat Boy, who destroys the bridge he is on, destroying Fetus's life support system. Fetus tries to kill Meat Boy and Bandage Girl by blowing up his facililty, but Brownie appears and saves the two.
Super Meat Boy received critical acclaim. After being showcased at the Penny Arcade Expo 2010, Super Meat Boy was declared Game of the Show by Destructoid and nominated for the same award by Machinima.com. The game received nominations for the Grand Prize and Excellence in Audio awards at the 2010 Independent Games Festival. It won the award for Most Challenging Game in IGN's Best of 2010 awards, and received nominations for Best Soundtrack and Best Retro Design. It was voted GameSpot's Best Downloadable Console Game of 2010, and won the Best Downloadable Game award from GameTrailers. Sales were strong, with nearly 140,000 units of the Xbox 360 version sold by the end of 2010. The Steam and Xbox 360 versions had sold over 600,000 copies combined by April 2011; 400,000 of these sales were through Steam. On January 3, 2012, Team Meat announced on Twitter that the game had surpassed 1,000,000 sales.
Critics praised Super Meat Boy's platforming elements, and often commented on the game's difficulty. X-Play reviewer Alexandra Hall said the game had "riveting platforming action", and added that "Super Meat Boy's designers are masters of their craft." Henry Gilbert of GamesRadar felt the platforming was "perfect". He wrote that "while it's always tough and demanding, it never feels cheap, or like the game is cheating you." A reviewer from GameTrailers stated that "the difficulty rides the perfect line between driving you utterly bonkers when you fail and making you feel like a platform pro when you succeed". Joystiq's Richard Mitchell echoed other reviewers' comments: "Super Meat Boy is tough, as tough as the toughest nails in the toughest universe." Gilbert cited the level of difficulty, which he believed made the game inaccessible to some players, as his reason for not awarding the game a perfect score. Tom McShea of GameSpot praised the game's "precise control", "excellent level design", and "smooth difficulty curve". Reviewer Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer warned that Super Meat Boy is "a hard game. It should make you want to throw the pad across the room".