After 10 long years Super Meat Boy is back, this time as an auto runner in a sequel that channels a lot of the original apart from what I loved most about it: snappy controls and tight platform. A year Spelunky 2 and Hades, it’s a failure to see Meat Boy come back without the key aspects that made it great.
Super Meat Boy Forever spring originally announced back in 2014 as a mobile game. Then one half of the indie duo Team Meat, Edmund McMillen, went to focus on other projects, leaving co-creator Tommy Refenes to restart the project for consoles in 2017. Other developers were finally recruited, the new Team Meat announced the release date early on 2019, and almost two years later it is finally here.
Out last week as a timed exclusive for Epic Games Store and Switch – the game will eventually reach other platforms –Super Meat Boy Forever forces your smiling blood patty to run forward in a constant clip as you breathe, jump, and battle your way through procedurally generated enemies and obstacles. Instead of the tightly wounded dungeons in the first game, ForeverThe levels are more wild, side-scrolling cases full of random dangers that freeze every time you generate a new game world. None of these elements are bad on their own, but they do not really come together to create an arcade platform I would like to return to.
Mostly because of how the game controls. Being burdened with a constant momentum feels contrary to the free-jumping current from the 2010s Super Meat Boy excelled at. You can change directions by jumping off walls or running into ramps, but for the most part Forever is about decoding the exact combination of jumps, blows and wall slips to get through a given bar of trouser saws and then performing them to guide the Meat Boy through to safety, as if remotely controlling a fleshy rocket ship. There is a link between the puzzle solution and actually performing the solution that just left me cold.
It does not help Super Meat Boy Forever feels especially fluid, aggravated by occasional slowdowns when many things happen. I’ve had trouble playing it on the Asus Zenbook, which seems to be isolated too a little crazy about certain PC settings. I have not played the game on Switch, but there it is locked to 1080p at 60 fps and seems to run just fine based on GameXplainthe time of the game.
Forever has a bright spot: the boss is fighting. Instead of always being propelled, boss taps give you enough tools to navigate a cramped area and take down the villain Dr. Fetus’ stuff by maneuvering back and forth to hit weak points. These meetings are cleverly designed and fun to find out, even as you collect dozens of deaths in the process. They were also the moments when the brilliance of the original game shows itself most.
The original Super Meat Boy was part of a new wave of indie tributes to genre classics. Two years before that, Spelunky come out. In 2011, Supergiant Games was released Bastion. This year, all three have seen direct sequels or spiritual successors, with Hades builds on and yet far surpasses the foundation Bastion. In this context, Super Meat Boy Forever feels particularly disappointing, offering not only more of the same from a prized classic, but instead a strangely compromised spin-off whose auto-runner conceit feels suffocating without bringing anything exceptionally new or worthwhile to the table. It’s hardly a terrible game, and it’s still full of cutting scenes that tell an airy new chapter in Meat boy-vers. But it’s still a bummer.