Reviews

Super Meat Boy Forever

Almost exactly 10 years after the appearance of Super Meat Boy, there is now a new fast-paced 2D (puzzle) platformer platform with what is probably the most agile meatball in the world. We looked at the switch version. PC players either have to use the Epic Games Store or wait until next year for a Steam release. The same applies to Xbox and Playstation (old and next gen), which should not appear until the beginning of 2021.

The basic principle of Super Meat Boy has not been shaken, you run through the levels and avoid anything that could catapult a piece of meat out of life. This includes circular saws, broken glass, lasers and a few other sharp, hot and possibly explosive obstacles. There are also mobile opponents, but they are just as dangerous as Goombas or Koopas from Super Mario and disappear with one slide in or dash in. What has also not changed is that you are on a rescue mission, only this time Bandage Girl is the active main character from the start and not the kidnap victim. Instead, listen and be amazed, you try to free the cute offspring of Meat Boy and Bandage Girl, called Nugget. Because this time too, the antagonist Dr. Fetus slammed and kidnapped the young meatball. 

After the motivation of the skin characters has been clarified in the intro, which seems much more valuable (compared to the predecessor), you swing into the first level and immediately come across the biggest change for veterans of the prequel: Autorun. Regardless of whether you play with Meat Boy or Bandage Girl, your own figure moves unstoppably forwards and you can influence the exact route by jumping, sliding on the ground, dashen in the air and / or falling quickly. You can do this by pressing the B button for jumps and Airdash and down on the control pad for sliding and quick falling. All input methods are now covered. Fetus slammed and kidnapped the young meatball. 

At this point you are tempted to see a step backwards to the simple two button Handygame, but would do the game an injustice at this early point in time. Because after a short time you feel that you have to react much faster and more precisely because of the constant movement of the character, because you can’t correct a botched timing when jumping by changing direction in the air and you also don’t take a breather except directly on a wall can. The need to proceed very precisely at the beginning also creates an entry hurdle that is slightly higher in our view compared to its predecessor. However, this is mitigated again through the use of fairly set checkpoints. These reset points are particularly useful when when you try to collect the pacifiers from Nugget that are distributed in the levels to unlock new playable characters. 

One of the strengths of Super Meat Boy Forever is evident: the greater focus on mysterious passages where you think about how to get hold of the pacifier. The ideal solution is not always immediately clear and you have to cleverly combine a change of direction by jumping on the wall with the quick trap function, the Airdash and everything that the game still provides. The fact that there are sometimes several ways to solve these puzzles makes the whole thing more interesting and also applies to the normal course of a level. While testing, we even encountered abbreviations that can skip almost an entire section. These possibilities are aimed primarily at those of you who want to beat the (sometimes very tight) best time of each level specified by the developer. Because in Super Meat Boy Forever you can go back to the normal standard Light World levels, which unlock Dark World, with more difficult remixes of the respective level.

Now that you have got used to the new concept and the combination of the different ways to move around, you don’t have to worry that you will get bored. Every new world introduces new dangers and game mechanics that offer enough variety. For example, there will soon be orbs in the level that will provide a one-time additional movement option after being picked up. The use of these orbs is absolutely necessary, for example to change the running / jumping direction using reverse airdash or to gain altitude with a second jump in the air. At this point, at the latest, you will be amazed at how much you can get out of the above two buttons through skillful level and game design.

And when you think you’ve seen and played through everything (and that should take a lot of time if you really want to collect everything), then after playing through there is still the opportunity to start over and a special feature of Super Meat Boy Trigger Forever: Randomly generated levels. Each time the campaign starts, the levels are compiled from a pool. The developers speak of “thousands of handmade levels” and state that you have to make a few runs of the game to get duplicates of the levels. The individual parts from which the levels are built and enable this variability are called “chunks” in the game and in-game statistics are used to record how many chunks you have already managed.

And that brings us to the Dark World equivalent of review, because there are also downsides to the game. The first is definitely that you have to have a certain tolerance for frustration, because you don’t die once, twice or three times in one place, but depending on your skill and ingenuity, you can play the same chunk of a level 20-30 times. This is especially true when collecting the items or reaching warp zones for special challenges. Even if the game doesn’t give you any real punishment and the checkpoints keep the size of these repeated areas small, that’s a “feature” that you have to like. Anyone who was annoyed green and blue in the previous one will experience a déjà-vu. Thankfully, the game does not force you to master all levels with the five levels per world, to unlock the boss of the respective world. So in hardship you can skip a level and come back later to prove yourself. The hardcore attitude of the game also applies to the introduction of new gameplay mechanics. There is usually a simple chunk where you can try something out for the first time, but usually you have to combine the options on the fly shortly afterwards in order to make further progress. This can cause short spikes in the difficulty level when a complicated chunk is pending. where you can try something for the first time, but usually you have to combine the options on-the-fly shortly afterwards in order to make further progress. This can cause short spikes in the difficulty level when a complicated chunk is pending. where you can try something for the first time, but usually shortly afterwards you have to combine the options on-the-fly in order to make further progress. This can cause short spikes in the difficulty level when a complicated chunk is pending.

And even if we got used to the two button gameplay after a while, there will certainly also be players who prefer more direct control with “real” direction buttons. Even the soundtrack, which is catchy, is one of the weak points, as there is only one theme per world, which varies in the level selection and is played in the levels and can therefore become monotonous. With the switch version, we also noticed that there were drops in the frame rate, especially during boss fights. In a game that relies on precise timing, you can do without stuttering in such places.

Finally, it should be positively emphasized that fans of allusions to other games, the predecessor and cutscenes influenced by Team Meat’s special humor will get their money’s worth. After or before each world there are again videos that also include supporting characters and also the bosses. We don’t want to anticipate too much here, but you don’t see a kind of solid snake squirrel on a quest for revenge every day. This squirrel in particular has become a strong contender for us for the video game character of the year ( author’s opinion ). Another highlight of these sequences is of course the dynamic duo from Dr. Fetus and nugget that doesn’t leave a red button unpressed and cheers you up with all sorts of slapstick interludes.

Fans of the first game who can handle the new autorun feature will again have some well-designed hardcore platformer action in front of them. All in all, while the game is very challenging, it is never unfair. Due to the shortness of the levels, it is also ideal for short sessions inbetween.

8/10

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