Don’t worry, I’ll do my very best to ensure the easy and obvious meat puns won’t be dotted through this review.
The original Super Meat Boy – which released on the Wii U eShop before later coming to the Switch – quickly earned its reputation for being a fiendishly difficult platformer which would have even the most hardcore of gamers a miserly time in finishing it. Super Meat Boy Forever, however, has now come along to make the original game look like Super Meat Boy for babies. That’s fitting, of course: the plot sees the evil Dr. Fetus seize Meat Boy and Bandage Girl’s baby, Nugget, and hence we’re off on an adventure to get her back.
So, the changes. Changing direction was autonomous back in the first game, but that is no more. Nope – Team Meat have gone particularly sadistic this time around as Super Meat Boy Forever has the player characters auto-run until they come to a dead-end or hurtle into the abyss. As a result, there’s considerably less time to stop, think and plan out your approach to a level, and your number of deaths will be a great amount higher than before. You need to do things by trial and error, unless you possess the Jedi-like powers of being able to assess each obstacle and react accordingly in such a split-second space of time.
And it’s not even that each level gives you any sort of helping hand as you go. Even the tutorial level is littered with circular saws ready to slice Meat Boy and friends into a gory mess. Luckily, you aren’t going to have to restart levels from the very beginning each time you die – that would send even the calmest of people into absolute hysteria. Levels are split up into individual sections with numerous checkpoints along the way, so you’re likely to only have to return to the start of the set-piece which killed you, thank the Lord. Getting to the end of each level is one thing – picking up each level’s collectible as you go adds to your stress load immensely, to the point where I was just seeing them out of the corner my eye and thinking, ‘nah’, then carrying on with the level.
It’s weird that things manage to be just so difficult, because there are only two buttons at play here. Obviously, there’s no need for any of the directional buttons (other than one), as the characters move themselves, but the B button has multiple purposes, from jumping, punching through enemies, rebounding off walls and using the game’s multiple power-ups, which are all introduced at a speedy rate of knots, often in sequential levels. The one directional button which is used is the down button, which serves to crouch with Meat Boy when he’s running on solid ground and performs a swooping dive when you’re in mid-air which can either take out enemies or be used to dramatically alter the curve of a jump to avoid an impending saw or laser-beam-related death.
Now, I can accept an increase in difficulty, as that’s what the auto-running adds to the Super Meat Boy experience. However, there’s another new aspect which wasn’t in the first game: randomly-generated levels. Any readers who’ve kept track with this reviewer’s thoughts across the years will immediately know that ‘randomly’ and ‘generated’ are words which shudder through my entire being. I’m a big proponent of games having their own individual personality and while the ambition is clearly to give Super Meat Boy Forever a whole lot of replay value, more often than not I’ve felt that detracts from the game’s personality in the end. It certainly doesn’t help that there are some bugs in the game, which render certain levels impossible to complete even if you are a platforming machine. Level 4-2, for instance, has you jumping onto a hook which should pull you upwards to the platform above. However, the game freezes once it reaches the top, with no buttons proving effective for a fix. A quick bit of research, plus another couple of goes, showed that this was a pretty common issue, but at the time of writing, no update fixing this was available, with my Switch version proving to be the latest version.
Each in-game ‘world’ throws a miserly boss battle at you at its end, and these are some really swear-inducing experiences. Luckily, the difficulty level on them is fair, and things are more about learning the right technique rather than having to time a thousand jumps with inch-perfect precision. That’s not to say you won’t be effing and jeffing your way through every single one of them when you mess up despite knowing exactly what you needed to do, but the level of fairness is crucial in a game like this.
Remember, this is a cutesy game but it’s certainly one for adults only. While this might otherwise simply be considered a very difficult platformer, it’s the blood and gore which befalls Meat Boy that makes it clear this isn’t for kids. And nope, there’s no way to turn the blood off.
There you go – I’ve managed to make it through the entire review without so much as a single meat innuendo. I bet you’re all impressed! Now, beat it.
Super Meat Boy Forever £15.99
Super Meat Boy Forever makes changes to its predecessor which add to the difficulty but also serve to make things less memorable. There’s immense satisfaction in finishing levels, but bugs throw a dampener on the experience in places.