The original Super Meat Boy had me playing for hours, falling completely in love with Meat Boy. Having heard that the sequel was originally going to be a mobile game, I was sceptical about trying it. Now, coming to Nintendo Switch, I was thrilled to try Super Meat Boy Forever, but unfortunately, it has left me to question whether it should have been released on anything other than mobile devices.
Auto-running in Super Meat Boy Forever is its biggest issue. You feel locked in, unable to dictate pace and direction; your freedom stripped. This leaves the game with only two buttons, Duck and Punch, making it a certified mobile game. You can change directions by jumping off walls or running into ramps, but that is where the creativity ends.
Due to the auto-running system, the game is hard. Timing and precision are crucial; otherwise, you will meet your demise. You could even compare the game to Dark Souls in terms of the way it is played. It teaches you the controls and unique level design early, then throws you in the deep end and expects you to be a grandmaster in 10 minutes.
“Some levels you come across are completely broken.”
Super Meat Boy Forever boasts over 7000 levels. In theory, this sounds amazing until you realize the levels are procedurally generated. This means the developers created chunks, and each time you start a new game, levels are made with different chunks to complete a level’s design. The procedurally generated chunks are a terrible idea. Some chunks are ridiculously hard, and others you can breeze straight through. These random level fragments lead to a non-existent difficulty curve.
Super Meat Boy Forever can put you in situations where you are dead if you don’t jump instantly when you respawn. And although there are no serious consequences for death, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Although the game will turn you slowly insane, the severe difficulty isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The quick respawns keep the flow going between levels. The death replay system lets you rewatch all your deaths on the level. Even though this was in the original, Super Meat Boy, it still feels just as rewarding completing the level and knowing that it’s over.
Boss fights are where Super Meat Boy Forever excels. It uses the ordinary auto-running feature and transforms it into something fantastic. Instead of the simple unidirectional movement, you must shift left and right to hit the villain’s weak spots. These battles are always fun to work out, even when dying numerous times.
Super Meat Boy‘s wit is still prevalent in the sequel. I couldn’t help but smile in every cut scene as the story developed. Team Meat can still tell a very compelling story even if the gameplay is lacking.
In a year where indie games shone through, Super Meat Boy Forever is disappointing. The auto-running concept feels restricting, and the procedurally generated levels make the game more frustrating than it needs to be. Not even the boss fights can save Super Meat Boy Forever from failing to meet the standards set by its predecessor.