May 16, 2022

Super Meat Boy Forever – Xbox Series X Review

Can Team Meat live up to the acclaim of its predecessor?

Super Meat Boy Forever is the follow up to 2010’s ground(and controller)breaking indie gem Super Meat Boy which changed the landscape for indie games on consoles upon its release. Super Meat Boy Forever boasts the same insanely difficult precision platforming but with a few twists on the Team Meat formula. But is it any good?

We rejoin Meat Boy, Bandage Girl and their adorable baby Nugget at a lovely family picnic when the evil Dr Fetus drops by to ruin the day. After slapping the loving couple about the dastardly Dr Fetus kidnaps Nugget and now we embark on a campaign of paternal revenge to reclaim Nugget from the doctor’s clutches. The story is told through some brilliantly animated cutscenes which I could just watch on their own to be honest, they’re that entertaining.

Gameplay

Super Meat Boy Forever hits a lot of the same notes as its predecessor. Focussing on precision timing, rage-inducing trial & error and a hell of a lot of luck. The campaign is made of six levels, each more difficult than the next and nicely varied. These levels are broken into a number of stages which are all procedurally generated, which we will come back to. You also have “Dark” versions of each chapter which ramp up the difficulty and are for the more hardcore of players.

There is also minigames scattered through the chapters that are a love letter to the great minigames from games of the older generations. For example, there is a minigame which is a throwback to the old “Test Your Might” minigame from Mortal Kombat which I thought is a great bit of fan service.

There is some big changes to the Super Meat Boy formula in Forever that will divide the player base somewhat. Super Meat Boy will always be remembered for its genius level design, precise controls and blistering difficulty but in Forever the chapters are procedurally generated which makes each playthrough different but means the level designs don’t feel as deliberate and as well crafted. That being said you won’t have much time to stop and appreciate the level design as Super Meat Boy Forever’s other big change is now it’s an auto-runner. 50% of your precision and control instantly taken out of your hands as that little blob of meat will now just run, and run he must.

The auto-running in Super Meat Boy Forever was a huge disappointment to me at first, it takes away a lot of the precision of the game and instead of each stage completion feeling earned they now feel more like luck due to the number of variables you need to line up perfectly to proceed through a section. There are regular checkpoints throughout the stages to break up the frustration but getting to the checkpoint doesn’t always feel earned. The boss battles are a great break from the regular gameplay and some are ingenious. They are by far my highlight of Super Meat Boy Forever.

Each playthrough is seeded and scales to your skill as you progress apparently. I didn’t notice this at all in my playthrough which either means it was skillfully implemented or doesn’t work. I did complete the game though so I don’t know whether that is on personal merit or the game taking pity on my poor old chubby hands and slow brain.

There are also eighteen characters to play as in Super Meat Boy Forever. You start off with Meat Boy and Bandage Girl but unlock characters like Doctor Fetus through random encounters, challenges, level completions and defeating bosses. None of the characters play any different so only completionists will probably put in the time to unlock them all.

Super Meat Boy Forever can take anywhere from an hour to upwards of five hours without even experiencing the “Dark Levels” or unlocking all of the characters. There is definitely a good chunk of replayability to be had if you can handle the difficulty of the game. There is even the option of a speedrunner timer if you are into shaving off seconds on total playtimes. For the modest price of £15.99/$19.99 you are getting a reasonably large amount of game if you want to put the time in.

Graphics/Sound

Everything in Super Meat Boy Forever is better than its predecessor visually and audibly. The art design is improved and takes huge inspiration from the classic Weebl’s Stuff and Newgrounds style of animation. Super Meat Boy actually began as a flash game on Newgrounds way back in the day when it was just Meat Boy so it’s very cool that it’s kept true to its roots. The sound design is fantastic and adds a heightened sense of urgency to the gameplay and makes every jump or dash feel weighty and impactful.

Let’s talk about the cutscenes. They are so much fun! Each one is beautifully animated and hilarious. They are a joy to watch and I could happily enjoy them as a stand-alone animation. give me a Meat Boy animated YouTube series team Meat, it would be amazing!

Performance

As expected Super Meat Boy Forever runs buttery smooth on everything but is a silky 60 FPS at 4K resolution on the Xbox Series X and benefits from “Insta-Load” on the Series X’s internal storage. From the Xbox home screen on a cold start it takes about 15 seconds to get to the games main menu if you skip the starting cutscene which is pretty fast but what is actually really impressive is that you can go from selecting the chapter you want to play to actually playing the game in under 1 second. It’s obscenely fast.

Pros

The strengths of Super Meat Boy Forever are in it’s more fun aspects. The art design as I’ve previously gushed over is fantastic, the sound design is perfect and if you want to put the time in there is a lot of game to be enjoyed for completionists, casual players and speedrunners alike.

With Forever being an auto-runner there is no real need for the D-Pad or thumbstick and dash and jump are mapped to the same button so the control scheme is minimal meaning I have been able to play it with the Xbox Adaptive Controller without the need to add multiple buttons. Super Meat Boy Forever is actually very accessible for people that may not be able to play with a regular gamepad but benefit from Microsoft’s brilliant Adaptive Controller.

Cons

Super Meat Boy Forever’s departure from precision platforming puzzles to autorunning is an issue. Because it’s such a huge mechanics change to the original it’s quite jarring at first and at every step of your way through the many stages you will find yourself asking the same question constantly. “Why autorunning? The first one’s gameplay was perfect, why change it?”. Because it’s such a big jump Super Meat Boy Forever doesn’t feel like a sequel. It feels like a spin-off or a tie in of the series. I have seen this sentiment echoed quite a bit online and it is spot on, in my opinion, it just feels off.

Conclusion

Super Meat Boy Forever had a huge expectation to live up to after the legacy left by its predecessor and in ways, it exceeds the first game. The cutscenes, art design and sound is improved considerably while maintaining the charm of the original. You also get some great bang for your buck in value with this game as there is tonnes of replayability to be had if you are willing to put the effort in.

Sadly the choice to move from precision platforming to autorunning is an unnecessary risk that doesn’t quite pay off. Resulting in completed runs feeling more like luck and persistence as opposed to skill and memory. Don’t get me wrong, Forever is still a good game but it’s not a great game like the fantastic Super Meat Boy.


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Super Meat Boy Forever - Xbox Series X
  • 7.5/10
    Overall - 7.5/10
7.5/10

Summary

Super Meat Boy Forever is a good game that offers challenge, great visuals and a tonne of replayability. However, the change from its predecessor’s trademark gameplay to autorunning holds back what could have been a fantastic sequel to one of the best indie games of it’s generation. 

What we end up with is a good Super Meat Boy game but maybe not the sequel the game deserved.

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