Title: Super Meat Boy Forever
Developer: Team Meat
Release Date: December 23, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Team Meat
The original Super Meat Boy is one of my favorite 2D platformers due to its nail-biting challenge yet ease of access and addictiveness. Having left a mark in history for difficult platformers to follow suit, as a long-awaited follow-up, Super Meat Boy Forever, might not leave the same level of impact as its predecessor, but it is still a hell of a fun game.
Super Meat Boy Forever’s narrative is as sparse and light as the original but still omnipresent. Following the original story, Meat Boy and Bandage Girl have settled down and had a kid named Nugget. Unfortunately for them, the dreaded Dr. Fetus returns and kidnaps Nugget, who the parents attempt to save.
There are cutscenes spread throughout the adventure, particularly when beginning a world and when completing one. The narrative is far from a driving force for this title, but there is clearly a good degree of charm and love poured into these scenes as they are almost always humourous and overdramatic.
The platforming gameplay is obviously where players will spend most of their time, and it is a far cry from what the original game presented. This sequel is its own beast, but I can’t deny that it’s difficult not to compare it with its predecessor. First and foremost, Super Meat Boy Forever does not contain the same level of exploration and free reign as the original title because it is an auto-runner.
I was uncertain about this gameplay direction because, to be blunt, the first thing that pops into most gamers’ heads when the phrase auto-runner is brought up is cash grab mobile titles. Making a title of this genre on console and PC did feel more than a bit questionable, but the folks at Team Meat tried their damndest to make this a fulfilling experience, and for the most part, they succeeded.
There are only a handful of actions that players have to concern themselves with while auto-running, which is a staple of the genre. Players can jump, jump attack, slide, and dive. Pressing and holding down the action button on the ground will result in an attack that quickly morphs into a slide. These are all rather self-explanatory to understand and perform, which carries the spirit of Super Meat Boy.
Simplistic actions and objectives are one of the original’s charms, and it has only been amplified here due to the auto-running nature. The difficulty is also a highlight, but casual players should go in expecting to die incessantly before making any notable progress. Countless obstacles, enemies, and gimmicks await players making it not a game for the faint of heart. In that sense, it also carries a familiar charm. The different worlds have various gimmicks alongside themed designs, so the gameplay loop’s repetition rarely became apparent.
The levels are all procedurally generated, with there being around 7,200 dynamically individual possible stages. This aspect alone is what makes the game almost infinitely replayable. There’s a seemingly endless sea of stages to keep players entertained. I found myself pretty addicted for a good few days, just enjoying the consistent cycle of death and success. The bosses within the stages are a significant part of the adventure. They are all difficult, sometimes frustratingly so, but they are also relatively self-explanatory and immensely gratifying to beat.
An admittedly unexpected high point of this title was its soundtrack. There aren’t a large number of tracks, but the ones that are present are incredibly addicting to listen to and perfectly lessen the frustration of constant death and failure. These tracks do their job masterfully well.
Though the replayability due to stage variety and procedural generation is impressive, there were some moments where there were randomly high difficulty spikes in the middle of levels. I get that not every level can be perfectly balanced, but it impeded my enjoyment in some instances. I would progress fairly quickly for some stages, minus one particular section that felt far more arduous than the rest of the stage.
Those sections felt out of place and more like they should be part of more punishing levels. Other than that gripe, this game was quite enjoyable. If you’re craving more Super Meat Boy, then this title might scratch that itch, but there’s an equal chance you might feel unfulfilled due to its departure from the original’s free control. Giving this title the Super Meat Boy name gives it a heavy mantle to handle and overcome, but this title instead chooses to forge its own path rather than following its predecessor’s wake.
Super Meat Boy Forever is clearly a lovingly designed sequel to the original hard as nails platformer. It takes on a new genre but still retains some familiar beats to keep players coming back for more. It might not be the sequel some fans were waiting for, but on its own, it’s an addictingly well-designed platformer for a modest price.
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