Super Meat Boy Forever review for Nintendo Switch.
Super Meat Boy was, and still is, one of the greatest 2D platformers of the modern era. Extremely difficult yet extremely fair, the 2010 platformer excelled because of its tight controls and clever level design — the soundtrack and goofy tone were just solid extras. These qualities make Super Meat Boy Forever’s jump into the auto-runner genre a little peculiar at first, given the differences between sub-genres. And even though Super Meat Boy Forever is disappointingly not the premier cold cuts it once was, it’s still tender enough slab of beef worth chowing down on despite the chewy, gamey bits.
Back to the meat grinder
Being an auto-runner does fundamentally change how Super Meat Boy Forever is played. Meat Boy runs forward unless a wall or saw blade stops cuts him off — literally in the case of the latter. This means it is up to players to react quickly and use Meat Boy’s slide, jump, or jumping dash punch to move forward.
Boiling down Super Meat Boy to such bare essentials is a bold choice and one that pays off relatively well in some regards. Controls are extremely tight, as its namesake suggests. Missing a jump and splatting across the myriad environments is rarely ever the game’s fault and such precision is precisely why Forever’s difficulty can be as high as it is. Levels can be brutally hard as they string together gauntlets that require fast reflexes and fingers to overcome. Death is swift, but it’s all in the name of the eventual satisfaction that comes after clearing a particularly devilish section. Bosses are a highlight as they are crushing yet rewarding to finally defeat.
The difficulty is able to stay fresh because of how the game constantly throws new obstacles at the player. Most work in tandem with the auto-runner format and the game is at its best when new hazards are introduced and then mixed in with the previous ones.
But these levels will likely not be the same for most players as the game is made up of different segments that are stitched together. Such an approach allows for a wild amount of replayability and the levels themselves never feel as though they were algorithmically cobbled together. It does feel handcrafted, which is the best compliment for a system like this.
However, this isn’t clear in the actual game as there aren’t many ways to easily play a different batch of stages in the same world. New Game Plus does assemble a new configuration of levels, but this takes away the ability to jump around the game; you must play through the entire thing again to see the intricacies of this system in action. And even though it keeps your collectibles, this means players will either have to forfeit their Dark World times or conquer everything to move on without losing anything. A more easily accessible remix option or some sort of cycling challenge system would alleviate this issue, show off the system in all of its glory, and plainly explain why “Forever” is in the title at all.
Auto-running into problems
Even if Super Meat Boy Forever is a solid auto-runner with a decent hook, it still has the general problem auto-runners have: control. It’s in the very nature of the genre, but there is always at least a slight disconnect that makes it less satisfying than regular platformers that thrive off their tactical controls. Automating movement takes away the control so fundamental to the genre so even if dashing, punching, and jumping all feel great, it’ll always be missing something.
The Ren and Stimpy-esque tone and colorful art style are spot-on and are still ride the line between disgusting and charming, despite the dash of edgelord nature that sits at the core of it all. Both continue the style in the previous game and benefit from today’s technology. However, Forever’s track list isn’t nearly as good, as was the case with the updated music that came with the Super Meat Boy ports that followed the PC version. Ridiculon’s compositions here are also generic and dull compared to the boisterous tracks Danny Baranowsky created for the original 2010 title. While it has a few decent tunes here and there, it lacks the personality and infectious rhythms that paired so well with Super Meat Boy. It’s passable yet an undeniable step down.
Super Meat Boy Forever Review | The final verdict
Failing to hit previously established highs encapsulates a lot of Super Meat Boy Forever. Although the game oddly hides its interesting seeding system, its levels are designed well and repeatedly introduce new tweaks that allow for an even difficulty curve that always tries to spice things up. Fluid controls even make that difficulty curve a welcome challenge. But the light detachment intrinsic to the auto-running genre is more of a shackle than the key to a better game. Going meatless for an entire decade inevitably raises the steaks stakes for the next Meat Boy game, and even though Forever doesn’t fully meet those expectations set upon it, it does narrowly avoid meaty-ocrity through its tight controls and level structure.
Game Revolution reviewed Super Meat Boy Forever on Nintendo Switch. Code provided by the publisher.