For those unfamiliar with Super Meat Boy, it’s a tough-as-nails platformer with a simple premise. Originally a Flash game called Meat Boy, Super Meat Boy was an incredible successor when it launched on the Xbox Live Arcade. These games demand impeccable precision and the ability to learn from trial and error. Many consider these games to be too difficult, leading to numerous instances of “rage quitting”. But for those who are able to withstand the punishing difficulty, the sense of overall achievement is tremendous.
So with ten years between games, what’s different? Well, the most noticeable difference is that Super Meat Boy Forever is an endless runner, unlike its predecessors. In other words, the playable character will automatically move forward throughout each level. There’s also the addition of a new attack mechanic that didn’t exist in previous titles. Even though Super Meat Boy Forever looks very similar, it actually plays quite differently. But do these changes work?
The new gameplay mechanics aren’t gimmicky; in fact they’re crucial to the design and uniqueness of the game. They’re incredibly well developed and the attention to detail is clearly evident. Given the game’s difficulty, a friendly checkpoint system will be a huge benefit for those that aren’t well versed in the genre. The music is fun and quirky with catchy melodies that are hard to not whistle or hum along to. The cutscenes are more fleshed out this time around, but still filled with awesome retro gaming references (the Super Metroid and Mega Man ones were personal favorites).
On the flip side of the coin, the gameplay mechanics lead to numerous moments of frustration. The game doesn’t require as much precision as Super Meat Boy and you have less control due to the gameplay shift. Because of this, cheap and annoying deaths are frequent. In general, Meat Boy just isn’t as fun this time around. Therefore the incentive to replay levels for a quicker completion time and collecting secret items feels much less worthwhile.
As a big fan of Super Meat Boy (who has been contemplating getting a Meat Boy tattoo for years now), Super Meat Boy Forever didn’t live up to my expectations. It’s still a good game with new and interesting mechanics, but the game feels like more of a chore than it should. That being said, I’m still incredibly grateful Super Meat Boy Forever has seen the light of day. This is especially true when you consider the long and difficult development cycle.
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