While poking around on Youtube I found many commenters saying "yeah, now try that with a keyboard." The game itself, however, only seems to suggest a controller to keep the "feeling" of the game.

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I played with the keyboard so far, and I'm 10 levels from completing world 5. Sure, my completion rates for worlds 2-5 are below 30% and I only have 11/100 bandages so far – I still do value my sanity – yet I'd rather think it's me not being good enough, than thinking I'm bringing artificial difficulty onto myself for not wanting to buy a controller.

The only gripe I have with the controls is that you need to release Space after having gained enough elevation before you can jump again by pressing Space again. I'm not sure using a smaller button, or a different finger, would make this any less frustrating however.

Is Super Meat Boy actually harder to play with a keyboard?

  • 2
    Keep in mind that while the answers here may explain reasons for the default difficulty of one input device versus the other, transitioning from any device to another can actually prove more difficult at first if you have fine-tuned mastery of the first.
    – Grace Note
    Apr 25, 2011 at 14:21
  • Ive made sure to address that in my answer.
    – Sadly Not
    Apr 25, 2011 at 14:35
  • 3
    Thumbs before fingers. Live it.
    – Cory J
    May 20, 2011 at 20:14
  • I finished all light worlds and something like 70% of dark levels with my keyboard (and couldn't remap the freaking keys), it was fun but painfull physically ^^ and you actually destroy your keyboard... I recently bought a xbox adapter and can't believe how easier/enjoyable it is to play that way Dec 9, 2011 at 13:07
  • -1 because the accepted answer is wrong
    – o0'.
    Jan 9, 2012 at 11:21

4 Answers 4


Super Meat Boy is easier with a gamepad only if gamepad is the input device you are more at ease with generally speaking, that's all. A few top players (Breakdown, Joe) play on keyboard and it's pretty obvious it doesn't hinder their skill. I would play SMB using keyboard rather than a gamepad myself if I didn't have an arcade stick, which I prefer to use. Last but not least: SMB default keyboard layout isn't exactly optimal IIRC, but that is easy to change.

  • This answer is accurate. There is no difference in the inputs between xbox and PC for the game. Meatboy doesn't make use of the analogue features of the xbox controller. See this interview with the developer where he discusses the character controller implementation. Mar 25, 2018 at 14:52

EDIT: Theory proved wrong, there is indeed little difference. Old answer follows, please see accepted answer.

Super Meat Boy is harder to play with a keyboard.

Gamepads can detect how much you are pushing the control stick in a direction; there are partial actions. Jumping to the right with 30% of run speed is possible to do.

Keyboards only detect whether you're pressing a key or not; you are either performing an action or not. So if you want to jump to the right with 30% of run speed you have to tap the right key at a certain frequency to simulate what the gamepad would otherwise do for you. This is especially difficult with a less than perfectly responsive keyboard.

Buying a gamepad is worth it depending on your experience with PC platformers. The gamepad and keyboard have different mindsets, and having already played through a good chunk of Super Meat Boy with the keyboard you'll have to spend time switching to the gamepad mindset. If you're a long-time player of PC platformers this will prove a painful transition. If you're not, then getting a feel for the gamepad will happen after replaying a few levels and you'll find the game much easier.

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    So SMB does actually make use of stick angle and position?
    – badp
    Apr 25, 2011 at 15:36
  • 1
    @fail badp - It was coded for xbox, and both xbox and gamepads store the stick as a vector indicting where it is being pushed. I'm 99% sure that the answer is yes. If someone has an xbox or gamepad they could figure it out pretty easily.
    – Sadly Not
    Apr 25, 2011 at 19:38
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    @badp Sadly not. (Sorry, I had to). I've tried it with my gamepad, and it's definitely the same speed no matter how you push. However, SMB is, subjectively, a LOT easier to play with a gamepad.
    – user56
    Aug 1, 2011 at 16:56
  • 1
    According to @Arda Xi comment, SMB does not take into account the analog stick. Considering this is true, then this accepted answer is incorrect! Aug 30, 2011 at 15:11
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    so super meat boy precision is in timing Dec 15, 2011 at 12:18

I find it harder with a Gamepad.. I've played the entire game with the keyboard 100% light world 87% Dark world i Use my little finger on the shift key and my thumb on the space key and i have my hand like i would if i was playing any game on the (WASD). Somehow i feel i can control Meatboy better if i use the keyboard


I have completed 106% of the game and died only 537 times with keyboard, for me its easier this way. U just need to practice a bit, only problem is that my left hand got paralized for 5 hours =/

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