Growing up, it was not only a test of endurance and patience, but raw skill that separated the children from the adults. Finding hard games on Newgrounds was a cherished pastime, and it only became sweeter when Super Meat Boy came around. Team Meat had made not only an incredibly charming game, but a challenge that really tested a player’s skill and mental more than most games did at the time. Both addictive and excruciatingly hard, Super Meat Boy went down in the books as a platformer to beat in order to call yourself battle hardened. With all these fond memories, I was incredibly excited to sink my teeth into Super Meat Boy Forever, and while it retains a lot of the charm, the mixed concept and execution leave a decent amount to be desired.
The game stars the titular protagonist, Meat Boy, and his now rescued girlfriend Bandage Girl. They also have a child, Nugget, and are living in peace after the events of the first game. This is when Dr. Fetus (who’s not a real doctor) kidnaps baby Nugget, and both Meat Boy and Bandage Girl have to save their baby. This choice allows both characters to be playable from the start, and sets the tone for the collectibles to be baby pacifiers. Nugget is just within reach at the end of every stage, only for Dr. Fetus to smack the poor baby away, sometimes even with a Shoryuken. The typical dark Newgrounds humor found in the first game isn’t lost, and that bit of comedy is sure to find a place with an older audience like myself.
Super Meat Boy was a traditional platformer with its own little gimmicks, like sliding off walls and making the most of your wall jumps while sliding. With the normal platforming mechanics this added a lot of depth to the game, including incredibly tight jumps and Kaizo Mario level dodging of death traps. Super Meat Boy Forever retains a lot of this, but the entire game is an auto runner. This is honestly what takes away the most from this game for me, as it feels like a lot of the player agency is lost. It makes this feel like a mobile game, and judging by the development concept I’m not far off. The controls aren’t necessarily the problem, as the game still controls well and has new mechanics like punching and diving which are usually used to extend jumps or rush to the ground. Again, I find that the main issue is with the lack of movement, it feels less interactive than the first game. The ability to go at your pace and space out jumps based on your own speed was fun, the constant speed set by an auto scroller stopped only by hitting walls is a bit stressful.
A huge positive of Super Meat Boy Forever’s new game design choice is the satisfaction that comes with completing a level in one go. Since you’re at a constant speed and expected to adapt on the fly or retry after a death, seeing threats and acting accordingly on your first go is incredibly gratifying. Super Meat Boy Forever does an incredible job in the introductory levels, teaching you the mechanics as you jump and weave through sawblades. While incredibly simple, the execution is what matters the most, and that becomes incredibly evident even halfway through the first area. A difficulty spike is indicative of the series, and as with the many callbacks this is no different. The worlds are also randomly generated, which is honestly cause for near infinite replayability. I honestly forgot about this while playing through the levels since they felt so well crafted for learning the mechanics, but honestly this is a huge plus. With randomized worlds this game has a lot of content, and being able to speedrun through random seeds and compare times can add a lot of fun and variety to the speedrunning community.
I have to say, while my gripes are there, Super Meat Boy Forever is still a charming game that shows a lot of love towards the original. Maintaining the same brand of humor, modernizing the gameplay for a new audience and implementing randomization are no small feats. The art style hasn’t gone through any drastic changes, which is great as well. Everything feels very familiar and the game is really easy to pick up and put down. With all that it does well, I feel this game would have succeeded more as a traditional platformer than an auto runner. Even after my few hundred deaths, I still had fun seeing the new areas and completing the boss fights, which felt a bit more rhythmic and interactive than the other stages. Super Meat Boy Forever is great for people that love to blast through their games, just make sure you’ve got the tenacity for it.
Score: 7 out of 10
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch