Super Meat Boy is one of the reasons I play video games. It's bright, huge, colourful, funny and painfully annoying.
This retro-revival darling immediately strikes a chord with anyone who can remember the early 90s, when platformers were king and the idea of a mid-mission checkpoint was entirely alien. You control a friendly-looking wad of meat and shuffle around hundreds of - if we're being painfully honest - increasingly evil levels.
The game is beautifully indicative of a generational shift in designers, too. We're all used to developers reviving their 80s childhoods (Geometry Wars, for instance) but Team Meat is fondly harkening back to their youths spent playing 16-bit consoles; even the title screen riffs on Street Fighter II's now-iconic opening, and not-so-secret 'warp zones' catapult you into ostensibly vintage homages of yesteryear. Super Meat Boy feels like my childhood but all growed up.
Each level is themed around one the oldest tenets of video game design - "the princess is in another castle". You need to rescue your girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the nefarious clutches of Dr Fetus. Every time you catch up to her, at the end of each level, she's snatched away once more. And so on, and so on.
But Super Meat Boy is buggeringly hard. At times it'll make you feel like jamming your controller prongs into your eyes as a way of releasing all the pent-up agony coiled inside your head. It routinely reduces me down to a weak, fragile husk, pushing some of my more obvious gaming tics to the foreground: I tend to compulsively take a sip of my drink whenever I die, for instance. Which means about half an hour of Super Meat Boy transforms me into a human water balloon.
Happiness is derived from these frustrations, not in spite of them. That's one of the reasons why Super Meat Boy is so good, and why it recalls that same giddiness of when I first, say, unwrapped a SEGA Master System II for Christmas.
Controls are sensitive but not finickity, requiring only two buttons (jump and spring) and the analogue stick. Sensitivity is high, and the bracing speed and immediacy of the levels is enough to put even Sonic to shame. Push hard in one direction and Meat Boy will dart spritely across the screen, probably face first into a giant saw blade. Or a mound of salt. Or a pile of needles, or - well, you get the idea.