I fear by the time I’ve finished this project, I will have played every single masocore platformer in existence.
I’d been meaning to write about Super Meat Boy for a while now, but every time I try to revisit it, I get the feeling that my time with the game has long passed. My save is certainly too far in for me to make any further progress and as I’ve gotten older, I’ll have to come to grips with the fact that my response time just isn’t what it used to be. I loved my time with that silly ball of meat, but loving often means letting go. I can’t go home again.
Lucky for me, there are plenty of Super Meat Boy rip-offs out there to try.
Stigmat has promise, no doubt. Like with a lot of games of its type, it’s rarely ever a case of the ideas failing as much as the execution. I’m certainly not saying that there can only be one gory platformer out there, but Stigmat is so transparent in what its trying to do. At only 15 levels long, there’s no room to ease the player into any of the gameplay concepts. You’re simply thrown into a meat grinder off the bat, the second level likely being too much for most players. I stopped around the halfway mark, not so much because it was hard but more because I felt like I’d seen all of the tricks it had to offer, be it a random boulder or disappearing exit or false floor.
Levels that intentionally troll the player have limited appeal. Super Meat Boy was difficult for sure, but it was also fair. There was a consistency of movement and speed that made every error something that could be overcome. I never felt like I wasn’t in complete control of what I was doing. Stigmat doesn’t really bother with rules, more concerned with the next “gotcha” moment, likely something fans of the genre have already seen in I Want to Be the Guy or Cat Mario. You also frequently find yourself wondering if death was something that you actually had any control over. With no digital control (analog only), too often you find that the no-eyed character has moved half a millimeter further than you intended, forcing you to start over from the beginning.
Or, you could do what I did and just stop playing altogether. That works too.