Fans of platforming games will no doubt remember the launch of one of the last decade’s most famous titles – Super Meat Boy. Releasing in 2010, Super Meat Boy was one of the hardest platforming titles one could ever hope to play, and with salt levels going through the roof, I bet not half of the players starting it finished the story mode. I was in fact one of these victims of the game, as although I lost count of the number of levels I made it through, I could not bear the remainder of the game.
I am not one to quit a lot of games, so I wanted to test my patience once again with Super Meat Boy Forever, the LONG awaited sequel to 2010’s smash hit title. Super Meat Boy Forever is a direct sequel, as it follows the adventures of Meat Boy after he rescues Bandage Girl. In Forever, the couple has the most adorable baby in history, called Nugget. Unfortunately, Dr Fetus is back again and after having kept Bandage Girl hostage before Meat Boy’s heroics, decides now to kidnap Nugget, thus sparking the couple’s rage who will do anything to get their baby back.
The game immediately kicks off with the first level, which serves as a reminder of the most basic commands in Super Meat Boy Forever. The sequel though carries a twist, which may not be very well received especially by people who loved the first; Forever is a runner, meaning Meat Boy will always be moving forward and cannot be stopped. This will surely be a shock at first as you will be lost trying to figure out the timing of the runs and whatnot, but will become relatively manageable after a bit of playtime.
Still, being a platformer with unforgiving environments, auto-running can feel very discouraging in levels where you need perfect timing. In fact, the general feeling is that some levels almost require what is known in fighting games as a just-frame, meaning you need to press the button combination at an exact time, otherwise you will fail the input. In Super Meat Boy Forever, failing the timing will result in your death, as many times even going backwards in the level will mean death as the screen sometimes does not offer walls to re-attempt the jump.
Thankfully, Forever features an awful lot of checkpoints, so players will only get stuck on one set-piece at a time, and figuring it out will trigger checkpoints where to respawn after your next death. It helps the game feel very fair, and not as frustrating as one might imagine.
Forever introduces a bunch of new mechanics to give it a unique identity over the original. The main change over the first game is the new punch ability, which can be activated either while jumping by double-tapping space, or when sliding. Sliding with down on your keyboard will immediately trigger the punch but this will not be active for long, so to take out multiple enemies you will need to press down again to re-activate the punch. Sliding will also permit your character to pass under certain obstacles like saw blades and other hazards, so it is a mechanic which is welcomed back from the first game.
Apart from the punch ability, there are new ways in which to interact with the level to get past certain puzzles. The game will throw new mechanics such as the black hole, which will suck you in and shoot you out at breakneck speed to break some crates in the way. There is also a ball of sorts which will enable you to go through walls, and while it can take a minute to master, it feels very rewarding pulling it off successfully.
In Super Meat Boy Forever, you have the ability to play a bunch of new characters, including Bandage Girl. This is the first time she’s been playable in the series, as she has been the damsel in distress in the previous title, so it is only fair to let her have a piece of the action this time around.
The whole cast in the game is very well made, and Nugget will have you laughing hard at how she behaves when in the face of Dr Fetus. She feels too naive at times but her innocence is what contributes to her adorableness in the end. Her pacifier will appear as a collectable in certain levels, and boy you have to work hard for it.
If I can give a tip, it’s to pause the game and watch what happens. There are a couple of cute interactions between Nugget and Dr Fetus which can only be observed on the pause screen, and I sincerely recommend you to watch. They are nothing game-breaking by all means, but it shows the level of commitment Team Meat went through in customizing each and every part of the game for the community’s enjoyment.
Sometimes it is not enough to collect it once, as it will change places to somewhere else, so you have to be ready for this twist in order to readjust and collect it again. Sometimes it will also have a timer and will disappear if you don’t collect it in time. Heaven knows how many times I repeated a level or a certain piece just for those damn pacifiers!
Progression wise, the core game is based on 5 worlds, all of which have around 6 platforming levels and a final boss. The platforming levels are ALL procedurally generated, so virtually no two playthroughs will be the same. There is obviously a limit to how many different levels can be created, but there are so many combinations that getting an identical level has extremely low odds. It is this procedural generation which will keep the game fresh again and again, no matter the number of playthroughs.
It will take you around 30 levels to meet the end boss, a boss which will give you a run for your money as it will require very good execution and timing to defeat. Beating this boss will permit you to access new game plus, which will reset all progress on levels but will let you keep pacifiers obtained. It is the recommended way to keep the fun going, while also striving to unlock more characters as you play.
On the world screen, the level will show if it was just beaten with a slash of red, if the level time was beaten with a fully red-shaded box and a pacifier when said collectible was achieved. Bear in mind not every level will feature a pacifier. This will be shown on top near the time to beat. I feel this is a neat touch to not let players grind levels in vain.
Overall, Super Meat Boy Forever has exceeded my expectations. Knowing how much trouble I had with the first game I never expected to enjoy this one so much. It feels much, much fairer and gives the player ample opportunity to learn and execute. It can feel a little bit too much in some set-pieces where execution has to be on point, but being one-offs they are definitely not an issue.
People who loved the first game will love this one as well, although the auto-runner part may be a deal-breaker as it will force players to play at the game’s pace instead of your own, but at such a cheap price for so much content, it would be a shame not giving it a go.
Grab the game on the Epic Game Store here!
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