What’s your full opinion on Super Meat Boy?
It’s repeating the same thing over and over again until you finally win. You don’t really have much choice in how you do it, you just gotta repeat until the inputs themselves are drilled into your head. The short level length exacerbates this, despite making the game easier, because the sections of repetition are really tightly packed together, so it’s extremely obvious that you’re doing the same thing over and over again. I’m not a fan of this style of difficulty.
Hotline Miami is closely comparable, but its application of randomness and subtle shifts in enemy patterns based on minute changes in timing allow for playthroughs of a given floor to play out very differently from one another, where everything in super meat boy is deterministic and very similar across repeated playthroughs. There’s a lot more possible variation in Hotline Miami, a lot more ways to approach any given problem (except the bosses, which they were sensible enough to not include in the sequel), where in super meat boy there are very few.
Levels in Super Meat Boy are very deliberately constructed to limit possibility space, much like Kaizo Mario style levels. This does make them harder, but it also makes them boring. Super Meat Boy is probably my definitive example of why difficulty or challenge alone does not make a good game. It was what spurred one of my early thoughts that it’s really easy to make a hard game, but a lot harder to make an interesting or “challenging” one. Now I would say a lot harder to make a deep one.
Yes, it is about the challenge, but deep games give you a lot of ways to approach a challenge, they have different measures of small successes to allow you to continue to push forward in some small way while getting closer to the big success rather than just ram your head against the wall making no progress on this one thing required to progress. This prevents frustration with the game, and usually provides avenues where more skilled players can find challenges up to their standards. They’re harder to build, but more rewarding to engage with, retaining more attention from players.
Though, I think Super Meat Boy was a financial success, it sold at least 1.5 million copies, so who really knows?