Let us all, just momentarily, consider how improved esteemed yet pestilential platformer Super Meat Boy could have been had the little chunk of flesh been programmed to run involuntarily. Just to be clear that’s running automatically without any input from the player.
All those in favour of improved hands up now. Oh would you look at that, NOBODY.
See, that’s the kind of complex testing procedure the developer of Super Chocolate Boy (hmm) ChocoRun would have benefited greatly from prior to creating Super Chocolate Boy ChocoRun.
As in Super Meat Boy, the player guides Super Chocolate Boy Choco, a small, reddish-brown cube of meat chocolate, through a series of short, treacherous levels; avoiding razor-edged spikes, circular saws and other curiously familiar contraptions intended to send Super Chocolate Boy Choco to an early grave.
But here’s the thing, Super Chocolate Boy Choco runs all by himself. Without the player’s input, he’ll calmly sprint headfirst into a wall of four-foot metal barbs. The player’s role then, is to ensure Super Chocolate Boy Choco doesn’t end up mounting a circular saw by prompting him to jump when necessary, which you do by holding down on the screen depending on how high and far you want him to leap. The longer you hold, the further the lump of chocolate soars.
Which would be woeful even if the controls weren’t absolutely pathetic. But they are, oh they most certainly are. Remember how Meat Boy was all about pinpoint precision? Well ChocoRun is too, but it’s somewhat challenging to be meticulous when you’re required to load a jump while old Choco is zealously plowing toward extinction.
Mistime a jump – and you will, repeatedly – and Super Chocolate Boy Choco either hurls himself into the whirling jurisdiction of a buzz saw (the desirable option) or about turns and heads off back in the direction he hailed from.
So you’ll trundle past circular saws and spike traps to find yourself within fondling distance of the goal before Choco scrapes his little toe on a ledge and U-turns to take another closer inspection of the very same circular saws and spike traps you previously eluded. And this is by no means exaggerative; the slightest touch is all it takes.
More often than not this farcical situation will have you a) venting invective profusely and b) reaching for the restart button.
Yet despite thieving absolutely everything from Super Meat Boy it somehow, inexplicably, fails to pilfer its most fundamental component, the vital key to all the game’s successes and the device responsible for the millions of hours squandered striving to conquer it: the instant restart button. In fact, it doesn’t have restart in any explicit capacity.
In Super Chocolate Boy ChocoRun then, to restart you either pilot Super Chocolate Boy Choco to his death, which admittedly is gratifying for those first few occasions, or you quit the game entirely. Brilliant.
ChocoRun is indescribably maddening but not in the patently brilliant way Super Meat Boy is, because – homing missiles aside – every death in Meat Boy is the player’s fault. You are inadequate. That’s rarely the case with ChocoRun. ChocoRun is inadequate and you pay the price for it.
The little slab of meat chocolate even makes the squishing noise Meat Boy does when he face-fucks a circular saw. SUPER MEAT BOY MAKES THAT NOISE BECAUSE SUPER MEAT BOY IS MADE OF MEAT. MEAT IS PULPY. MEAT IS JUICY. CHOCOLATE IS HARD. THE SOUND CHOCOLATE MAKES WHEN IT LANDS ON A SURFACE IS NOT SQUELCH.
And that right there about epitomises this whole morbid, mangled, insufferable and laughable mess. It’s not even that a platformer in the spirit of Super Meat Boy couldn’t perform on the iDevices, League of Evil proves the formula works. It’s that ChocoRun is a stupid, lousy and infuriating game that between gauche controls, the lack of a restart option and Choco’s incapacity to choose the direction he runs in, is impossibly terrible.
On the other hand if you loathe yourself with the kind of unreserved zeal rational folk reserve for is-it-a-woman-or-is-it-a-dumpster?, talent lacuna Ke$ha, well then you’ve stumbled across a gift from God himself.