Today we're talking about Super Meat Boy and Dustforce!
Rob: Super Meat Boy. It's the Mario of our generation. It's the Dark Souls of platform gaming. It's the Horse-In-Your-Burger of meat based entertainment. The only reason not to pick it up is that you already own it, but as it's so well known, why don't you give me an idea of what Dustforce is? Some sort of clean-em-up?
James: I'm not sure "horse-in-your-burger" is a good thing. It's certainly a good game, no one can dispute that, but following on from your reason not to pick it up is that you already own it. A lot of people own Super Meat Boy, but a lot of people might have missed Dustforce. It's almost opposite in it's theme. Meat Boy is getting splatted everywhere, making a big ole mess. Dustforce you're sweeping it all up, with acrobatic skills of a young Jackie Chan. You run around the level, sweeping as you go, getting points for cleaning the mess, as well as defeating enemies in levels. So for example, there's a library level where you go around dusting it all up, and you can use your attack to combo from running up a wall, hitting a flying dust-possessed book to get some extra air, before continuing up in a move of pure grace (or as my own experience went: dropping down and doing a ton of wall jumps to get there). The attacks are what strongly differentiate Dustforce from Super meat Boy, you get basic attacks, light and heavy, and when your score is high enough you get a "kill ALL the things" attack which darts around the screen to clean-up on enemies. (Pun SO intended).
Rob: I'm not sure you can describe something as a young Jackie Chan unless it's actually Jackie Chan. Besides, I'm pretty sure Young Jackie Chan was a kids cartoon when I was younger, so that sounds like copyright infringement to me.
(Aside: That was actually Jackie Chan Adventures. And it was awesome.)
Rob: Different moves and all that are one thing, but my favourite thing about Meat Boy is that it mixes stuff up quite madly between the levels. One minute it's a fairly standard platformer (albiet one with amazingly sharp controls) and then next it's taking on themes and art styles from something you wouldn't expect. Variety in levels is way cooler than variety in character moves. Still, attacks? Sounds more like one of those punching games ive heard about than a pure platformer? Do you even bleed on ANYTHING?
James: You know I don't think you do, even when you land on spikes. Dustforce definitely does a kind of mix'n'match with certain aspects, which your blood-related question made me realise. It does have attacks, where a lot of platformers don't, and instead of having to restart the entire level when you die, you kind of phase back to the last available point. Because instead of about completion of the level its about the skill and time in the completion. So the timer for each level, and grading, make a much bigger focus on the time-trial aspect.
Rob: Yeah, thats a nice way of doing it because it let's people like you join in, I guess and gives you access to the content more easily, but if you want more than a badge that says "I Took Part", you gotta go for Meat Boy. It's reputation for being difficult is well deserved, but it's got that awesome balance which means you can play it, die, scream at it, throw your controller and or keyboard across the room and then pick it up and try again all the in the same two minutes. Given that platformers are typically not all that hard, that's a refreshing change of pace.
James: Dustforce is actually incredibly difficult to play well, because of the coordination and timing of moves needed. If you don't beat a level to a certain standard, you won't be able to access other levels. Seeing my name come up in the timer leaderboards well outside of the top players is something I experienced frequently. I think Meat Boy players would find it to be a similarly challenging experience, though obviously the core mechanics are different. Meat Boy is a very pure platformer, but then indie games are all about trying different things, making Dustforce a very appealing option.
Rob: It's an option! People should totally get it if they have already played Meat Boy, and I know a lot of people have. I picked it up a couple of Christmases ago and it took me about three weeks to build up enough skill and courage to get through the entire thing. If you have already got it, Dustforce sounds lovely, but if you haven't you've aboslutely got to pick up Meat Boy first. It's the benchmark by which we should measure any straight up platformer. It'd be like playing Team Fortress 2 but not Half Life 2, it'd make you WIERD.
James: I've gotta confess.. I'm just not very good at platformers, Rob. I love them but, man, do I suck at them.
Rob: Yeah, to be fair, the only platformer I could handle when I was younger was Sonic 3 and that's becuase I got tails to fly over the entire level like a boss.
James: How great is Tails?