A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Meat Boy is an extremely difficult side-scrolling platformer game loaded with bright red blood and lots of toilet humor. Players control Meat Boy, a cube-shaped chunk of meat that runs through hundreds of perilous levels en route to saving his kidnapped girlfriend. He leaves a trail of red blood as he travels and bursts into a gush of red when he comes in contact with environmental hazards such as buzz saws. Crude humor is constant, from the villainous Dr. Fetus (a tiny baby who wears a man suit) to a creature made of fecal matter called Brownie. One of the characters flips a middle finger during a cut scene. Parents also should note that players of all ages and experience levels will find this game tremendously challenging, and it could lead to bursts of frustration.
What's it about?
SUPER MEAT BOY puts players in the role of Meat Boy, a cube of bleeding meat on a mission to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from a vile kidnapper named Dr. Fetus, an infant living inside a man-like suit. That's all the setup players are given before being thrust into hundreds of deeply challenging side-scrolling platformer levels. Players control Meat Boy by moving him to the left and right and jumping to avoid a variety of lethal hazards including spinning blades and piles of salt. He also can grab, slide down, and leap off walls, giving players the ability to climb vertical shafts with no platforms. Timing is key; even skilled players will need to play some levels dozens of times before managing to jump and slide their way to the exit without game-ending mistakes. Hidden goodies -- including items, playable characters, and themed levels -- are scattered throughout the game.
Is it any good?
Super Meat Boy is one of the hardest games most players will ever encounter. There's no limit on lives or retries, and levels instantly restart upon failure, but there's no denying the frustration that will well up in many players as they spend 20 or 30 minutes trying again and again (and again and again) to finish a 20- or 30-second level. That said, there's virtually nothing in the game that could be properly described as unfair. It's all a matter of honing skills, improving reaction times, and learning every nuance and beat of the most challenging levels. It takes time and patience, but the reward comes in the sincere satisfaction of having successfully accomplished something widely regarded in gaming circles as extremely difficult.
Whether players cue into the game's offbeat wit is another matter. A big part of enjoying the Super Meat Boy experience depends on whether you can see the humor (and cleverness, some might say) in its details -- such as the notion that a bleeding hunk of meat would fall in love with someone named Bandage Girl who secretes calamine lotion (which, presumably, helps keep him from becoming infected). It's not for all tastes, but those who savor a challenge and appreciate wacky game concepts likely will find a lot to like about this beloved indie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about games where male heroes save female characters. Can you think of any games in which the gender roles are reversed? Why do you think so few games feature women saving kidnapped men?
Discuss the impact of violence in media. Blood and exposed meat are in virtually every frame of this game, though both are presented in a cartoon-like fashion and largely removed from the context of human injury. What narrative purpose, if any, do you think all this blood serves?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.