“Super Meat Boy Forever’s” release was a long time coming. The wait was so long, it started to feel like the “Forever” in the title was a reference to the game’s development cycle. However, Team Meat had a surprise for everyone, releasing “Super Meat Boy Forever” days before the Christmas holiday. While it’s not the Meat Boy that everyone’s used to, it’s still a tough challenge in its own right and one that’s worth taking.
I wasn’t expecting Super Meat Boy Forever’s story to be charming, but there was something almost whimsical about the narrative. Meat Boy and Bandage Girl have settled down after the events of the original “Super Meat Boy” and are now raising a child named Nugget. The evil Dr. Fetus strolls onto the scene, beats them both up, and steals Nugget.
All right, that’s doesn’t sound so whimsical, but the animation certainly fits that description. The animated cutscenes feel like they’re taken from a cartoon series, unfolding like a silent film and expressing both down-to-earth characters and slapstick comedy. It’s the kind of thing that would fit in perfectly on Adult Swim while also appealing to longtime gamers. I can’t express the joy I felt at seeing Team Meat’s homage to the iconic Super Mario RPG opening scene.
The cutscenes often come between worlds and they’re a worthwhile reward for surviving the game’s brutal (in a good way) level design.
Meat on the loose
Some might have come into “Super Meat Boy Forever” expecting a platformer more in line with its predecessor. However, this is actually an auto-runner, meaning Meat Boy (or Bandage Girl or over a dozen other unlockable characters) moves automatically. Players are restricted to jumping, punching and sliding. While that might be disappointing to some Meat Boy purists, that doesn’t mean this game is easy. In fact, it still has that level of difficult platforming that makes you want to pull your hair out by the roots, mainly thanks to the series’ usage of one-hit kills.
“Super Meat Boy Forever’s” stages introduce new mechanics and obstacles frequently, but none of it feels overwhelming. The game is very friendly about teaching players what they can do and how their moves can help them reach the end of each stage. On top of that, Team Meat’s obstacle placement and level design is downright dastardly without being unfair. It’s entirely possible to make it through every obstacle in the game, as everything ultimately comes down to timing and reflexes. There are no unfair “RNG” elements or cheap enemy design. That’s part of the beauty of the series. If you fail, it means you failed. That made it more likely that I would throw my controller by the 30 or 40th death, but it also made me want to keep coming back for more. A friendly checkpoint system also encouraged me to return for more punishment, since it meant that an untimely death wouldn’t force me to repeat a full brutal stretch of obstacles back-to-back.
The other thing to note is that “Super Meat Boy Forever’s” stages are procedurally generated, pulling from a pool of thousands of sequences. Success isn’t about memorizing stage layouts, it’s about recognizing your own tools and how to use them. That made the game feel refreshing in many ways and made me want to explore further beyond the main story, including the parallel “Dark World” stages.
One of the sole instances where “Super Meat Boy Forever” drags is with the boss battles. The boss battles are designed with the same sort of philosophy as the standard stages, utilizing tricky, but not impossible, gameplay ideas. However, unlike the standard stages, players have to complete these fights in a single go. While hitting a wall in a normal stage would sometimes make me want to get up, take a walk and regroup, getting to the end of a boss battle and hitting a cheap death made me want to turn the game off entirely. Finally landing that last hit still feels satisfying, but getting there wasn’t the same level of fun that I had with the normal stages.
To compare “Super Meat Boy Forever” to its predecessor is folly. They’re two different types of games, but Team Meat makes sure to inject its unique seasoning into both. As far as auto-runners go, “Forever” stands along the top as one of the best in the genre, despite a short story length. With so many possible stage layouts, a multitude of challenging mechanics, and Team Meat’s fluid platforming design, it makes this game feel like a joy.
Then it feels like anger. Sweet, sweet anger.
This review is based on a Nintendo Switch digital code provided by the developer. Super Meat Boy Forever is available now on the Epic Games Store and Nintendo eShop for $19.99. The game is rated T. For the latest information about videogames, visit http://www.shacknews.com.
(C)2021 Shacknews. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
f82843e7 5619 4adb 870d 11efb8b1b462