Super Meat Boy: Rage Fun

The video game Super Meat Boy is an incredibly fun game. Over the course of two weeks I looked forward to doing my homework because I knew I would be having fun. As someone who rarely plays video games I was skeptical to the amount of enjoyment I would experience during the game. However, I felt the game was a perfect match for me due to gradual learning curve.

Super Meat Boy is cheeky video game about a de-fleshed character (Meat Boy) on a mission to reunite and rescue his love (Band Aid Girl) from antagonist (Dr. Fetus). From this brief explanation one can already see the humor involved in the game. This gave me the feeling that I should expect some silly stuff. So I start the game. Easy! What was I nervous about? The objective was simple. The path was wide open, it was effortless to navigate. I was already having fun. Raph Koster states in Theory of Fun for Game Design that “repeated failure is a predictable cycle, and rather boring”. When I first started to play the game I would have to play a level maybe two to three times in order to become proficient and pass. I was having fun playing the game because I could beat the levels. Most of my experiences with video games ends with frustration and abandonment. My guy friends make me play a game that is way out of my league, I don’t know what the controls do, and I can only advance at the same pace as a seven year old. Super Meat Boy’s controls are simple. The levels are feasible. If I truly couldn’t complete a level, I could skip it. Its characters a cute little squares which move in a very linear way. One reason SMB is fun is because it has a simple game design.

As I continued to play the game the levels became more complex. There were saws and melting bricks. However, the core elements (objective, controls, proficiency level) of the game stayed the same. I was having to spend a little more time on levels. This only added to the fun. When I would pass a hard level I would literally yell out loud in excitement. Koster explains in his book that when it comes to games “learning is the drug”. Every level was different and I had to use the knowledge I gained from the previous levels in order to become proficient and pass. When it came to the levels that took more than five attempts I had to use the knowledge I gained from playing that same level. There were patterns which needed to be strung together in order to execute a move that presented themselves from level to level. There were also patterns that you needed to string together within one level. Learning the patterns and executing them was so satisfying and fun.  

smb-2

The only time I got incredibly frustrated and quit was in the last level of the first chapter. It started out like the others but I soon realized everything I did needed to be executed perfectly. This is when I stopped having fun. After about forty-five minutes on the same level I was not learning anything new. I was stuck in a rut, continuing the same mistakes I had already made a hundred times. However, a few days later I attempted the level again. This time I gained new ground and learned something new about the level. Fun!  A reasonable approach to levels that are not fun would be to take a break from the game and let your emotions settle.smb

Super Meat Boy is an incredibly fun game due to its challenging but conquerable puzzles. Even though there were times I got frustrated and quit I still felt drawn to the game. I knew I could overcome the levels if I just had my timing down, jumped with enough power, and avoided troubling obstacles.This game was fairly easy for me, a noob, to pick up. I laughed, yelled, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.   

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4 thoughts on “Super Meat Boy: Rage Fun

  1. I really like your take on the game. From my perspective as a gamer, I didn’t really find the game to be all that fun. I didn’t feel like I was learning much, as the controls were simplistic. But that’s what made the game fun for you. It’s interesting to see how people determine what fun is to them based on their level of play. I’ve played video games for years and years, which is why I didn’t have much interest in Super Meat Boy. It was too simple. Not only in its design, but the controls and the objectives as well. I couldn’t really get into playing the game because I didn’t feel like I was learning. So after a while of playing, I stopped because I was bored.

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  2. I agree that understanding the patterns was part of what makes the game fun. The game is also easy to pick up but hard to beat. I didn’t do much laughing while playing until the end of my play throughs because that’s when I started to enjoy the game more. I definitely yelled at bit and my housemates were wondering what the hell was going on. I found myself in a similar situation being stuck on a certain level only to stop playing and gain new perspective the next time I played the game.

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  3. Interesting post. Good job coming back to Koster, but remember page numbers. Also, while your images are cute asides, you might want to reference them. How do they matter. Are they illustrations (of your points)? Are they merely there to punctuate your words? Think about your structure. Finally, substantively, how does the ability to skip levels vs. your inability to finish the one level (opposite) work together with design and fun?

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  4. I found this game really fun. Yes it was frustrating but through it all i was laughing at the deaths. The dumb deaths where I grazed the spikes and died were horrible. Nice post good luck on the second one.

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