The terrible keyboard controls of Super Meat Boy originally put me off the game. I got three levels in and quit in disgust. I say disgust rather than annoyance because the developers point out to you on every startup of the game that they didn’t care jack shit about keyboard gamers. Use a controller, they tell you, or fuck off. Which infuriated me not because I took offense but because they made their own failing at creating decent controls somehow your fault.
When I recently picked up the game again I found ways to work with the controls and am slowly but steadily progressing. It’s not the most enjoyable of experiences – just the sound of meat slapping about is quietly nauseating – and as a platformer I far prefer things like the similar but more upbeat VVVVVV or the wonderfully charming Thomas was alone.
But it is a special experience. Somewhat like what ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ is subjected to in Full Metal Jacket. You’re being treated like shit but you can’t help laughing at the absurdity of the situation. You know you’re not what he wants you to be and you know you’ll never be. But the drill sergeant isn’t done with you and slowly but surely you improve until you finally nail that stupid run all the while insisting that’s it’s still impossible.