The first Super Meat Boy is considered a cult game. Released in 2010 by the Edmund McMillen / Tommy Refenes duet under the “Team Meat” banner, it accompanied the explosion of independent titles, following on from creations like Braid and Castle Crashers. It is unmistakably recognized for its undeniable playing qualities, but also for his iconic status, thanks to his critical and commercial success as well as his appearance in the documentary "Indie Game: The Movie". Anyway, Super Meat Boy is a big chunk. Does his sequel, named “Forever” manage to pick up the torch, despite the departure of Edmund McMillen along the way?
The most important first: Super Meat Boy Forever is very different from the original installment and will inevitably disappoint those looking for a faithful sequel, which would take all the cogs imagined by Team Meat at the end of the 2010s. This doesn't make it a bad game (though far from perfect), but you have to be aware of it before you go to the cash register, especially since the team today led by Tommy Refenes does not have highlighted this point.
MEAT BOY COURSE, COURSE
But what characterizes this big difference? With Forever, Super Meat Boy becomes an endless runner, a genre where the character always runs ahead and whose biggest representatives today are Jetpack Joyride and Super Mario Run. Team Meat's new game is closer to the mobile adaptation of the mustached plumber, Meat Boy being able to change direction after a wall jump or even using a special power that will spice up the platform phases towards the end of the game.
Either way, this is a sea change that turns the philosophy behind Super Meat Boy upside down. So in Forever, no more short but intense levels where each death takes you back to the beginning, and hello to courses filled with randomly generated checkpoints and obstacles. According to Team Meat, the game contains 7200 “hand-crafted” levels. In fact, they are rather “packs” of death traps that are distributed differently at the start of a new game, which still guarantees a considerable lifespan.
Beyond the astonishment to see Meat Boy run without stopping at radically different levels, we can however enthusiastically welcome the bet of Team Meat, which seems to want to take the word "Forever" at face value. But still this impressive puzzle of demanding platforms - because yes, it is still not a walk in the park - take shape in a harmonious way. And this is where it gets stuck.
EYES BIGGER THAN THE BELLY
While Super Meat Boy Forever is full of different obstacles, not all have been crafted with the same care. Several times during our games, we dodged deadly traps in a fluid way before coming up against a phase requiring a sudden very precise path, sometimes difficult to apprehend in the exhilaration of the race. And whether at the beginning or at the end of the adventure, the difficulty curve remains relatively flat with these randomly generated levels (except for the bosses, which I will talk about below).
The problem is probably not in the design of each of these deadly zones (even if we sometimes feel some awkwardness). The most damaging thing is that certain obstacles break the feeling of play installed by the previous traps. In fact, the fast tempo of the endless runner generally works well, with the feeling of going under a saw at the last minute and then moving on. This is when the player comes across a particularly complicated or imprecise passage.
Result: the flow of the game is suddenly broken, and you will have to start over and over the same segment to see the end of the level (each death will send you back to the start of the obstacle that took your skin). In fact, Super Meat Boy Forever seems to be caught between the specifications imposed by its predecessor and its new nature of endless runner, which gives levels to the wobbly structure. While the previous installment is recognized for its finely crafted level design, taking advantage of the game's formidable gameplay.
Small technical point: I didn't notice any difference between the Switch and PC version, other than a few slowdowns on Nintendo's hybrid, between two platform phases when the screen was loaded with effects. But you may notice the presence of large black blocks at the bottom of the screen. Everything is fine with your version! These are obviously "holes" between the different packages of obstacles assembled at random. A side effect that is a bit of a shame, insofar as the title is quite pleasing to the eye (even if its DA goes into peanuts towards the end of the adventure).
Did you say “gameplay”? Well, let's talk about it! As you can imagine, with the endless runner as a guideline, Meat Boy is no longer as agile as before, and can no longer, for example, do wall jumps to climb the same wall, nor even run faster or control its trajectory in the air. But age seems to have given muscle to our favorite piece of meat, which is now able to strike after a leap to cover more distance (up to three times if enough enemies are in its path). Besides, rest assured, the height of the jump always depends on how long the button is pressed. Finally, in Forever, Meat Boy can also slide on his stomach to pass under obstacles and hit enemies for a few moments. The same action in the air will cause the character to dive.
In short, a two-key gameplay (bottom for sliding and a button to jump/hit), which seems cut out for a mobile port, support on which the game is supposed to be released even if I have not heard from this for a long time. side-there (the title will arrive in 2021 on Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam). Regardless, these sleek controls - and the constraints of the endless runner - have caused Team Meat to add new obstacles very frequently across the five different worlds. There are the great classics of Meat Boy: saws, crumbling walls, walls locked with a key, and a lot of other originalities.
The problem is, no matter the 7,200 different levels and hundreds of obstacles, it feels like you always do the same thing in Super Meat Boy Forever. And for a simple reason: the endless runner is a fairly narrow mold in which it's hard to vary the sauce. Obstacles thus often appear as a rather bland variation of an inexorable forward race, where everything is regulated like music paper and where improvisation is rarely tolerated because the slightest ill-placed wall jump will take you into the dark. bad sense (spoiler: it means straight to your death).
SOME GOOD PIECES
However, I must not forget the good points of Super Meat Boy Forever, starting with its bosses, which punctuate each zone with a demanding fight that will have to be succeeded in one go (the whole, however, creates a gap with the standard levels, where checkpoints are plentiful). Clashes well thought out, but sometimes weighed down by gameplay concentrated on two small buttons, which can give rise to inaccuracies.
Despite this small pitfall, the bosses pleasantly punctuate the adventure as well as the animated cutscenes, which tell the adventure of Meat Boy and Bandage Girl in search of their child Nugget, kidnapped by the infamous Doctor Fetus (with on the other hand humor less trashy than in Super Meat Boy, which may disappoint some fans). The player can choose from a list of 18 playable characters with identical gameplay, which must be unlocked by collecting collectibles. In short, you will understand, Super Meat Boy Forever has no shortage of content, but that does not make it a very good game.
Super Meat Boy Forever Review, the conclusion
Early fans, beware! Super Meat Boy Forever has little to do with its older sibling, except for its high standards and quirky universe. Team Meat thus gives us a rather pleasant endless runner but too often frustrating. Blame it on the levels assembled randomly with platform phases and obstacles created by hand. The good news: a foolproof lifespan. The bad: levels with a wobbly structure, where the exhilaration of racing and survival in extremis very frequently comes up against suddenly difficult traps, sometimes imprecise in their construction. Forever thus seems to want to play on two tables, by imposing its new formula while creating a link with Super Meat Boy first of the name. But the sauce only rarely takes. Note, however, beautifully animated cutscenes as well as thoughtful boss battles. In the end, a game that can be walked through by hanging on a bit, without really doing its predecessor honor.
If you are interested to learn more about the game, please visit the Super Meat Boy Forever official website for all details. You can also leave your comment below and tell us about your own experience about the game.