In the genuinely entertaining manual/sketchbook/comic that accompanies this package, there are some ruminations on the topic of hardcore platformers - specifically the ingredients that make a good one. What this largely boils down to is the difference between `challenge' and `frustration': the former provokes that teeth-gnashing, knuckle-whitening, just-one-more-go reaction with which all gamers should be familiar, whilst the latter leads to nothing more than broken gamepads and sulking.
Fortunately, the awesomely anagrammatical Team Meat are fully aware of this difference, and have created a blood-soaked beast of a game that will punish you over and over for the slightest mistake, but still - through cunning level design, well-balanced risk/reward systems and honest to goodness fun - makes you come back for more.
Putting you in the shoes of a boy made of raw meat, whose girlfriend (made of bandages) has been stolen by an evil foetus in a jar (yes, yes, just go with it...), Super Meat Boy sees you braving landscapes of buzzsaws, discarded medical waste, heaps of salt and other such things that may cause much consternation to the meaty gent, resulting in a messy death.
You WILL die. A lot. Of that there is no doubt. Infinite lives make this less of a concern, but that does not make the game easy. Progress is often made by inches, with carnage in your wake. Meat Boy leaves a trail of blood on any surface he touches (or, as it often the case, dies next to), giving the player a useful visual guide that shows how much progress has thus far been made, or where that last fatal mistake occurred. This visual, combined with the small level size, means that, while success may repeatedly evade your grasp, the means to your end remains in sight, thus bringing about the clenched-fist, come-and-have-a-go-if-you-think-you're-hard-enough attitude that marks out the very best platform games, from Manic Miner to Mario.
Super Meat Boy is an essential purchase for those of us who grew up with videogames in the 80s and have been pining ever since for such purity of level design and challenge. Just as well, really, as the un-PC content and gory glee of the game makes it somewhat unsuitable for the young'uns.
As well as the game itself (which, by the by, needs to be activated online via Steam, so don't expect it to work straight out of the box), this package contains the aforementioned booklet (by turns childishly amusing and properly educational and interesting), a double-sided poster (your choice of Meat Boy's grin and a piece of musclebound fantasy art Boris Vallejo would weep over), a nicely-crafted and mildly disturbing t-shirt (size: roomy) and all manner of bonus content, including the game's lusciously retro soundtrack, concept art, wallpapers and other such frippery.
All in all, this is a meaty slab o' goodness, packed with flavour and dripping with quality. Dig in!