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Super Meat Boy Forever review

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Need to know

What is it? An auto-running sequel from the Meat Dimension.
Expect to pay: $20
Developer: Team Meat
Publisher: Team Meat
Reviewed on: Windows 10, GeForce GTX 1070, Intel Core i7-9700 CPU, 16GB RAM  
Multiplayer: No
Link: Official site

Team Meat deserves credit for boldness. The formula for a Super Meat Boy sequel has been on the table for the entire decade following the release of the original game. We fell in love with its ultra-precise jumps, gratuitous blood splatters, and grotesque Garbage Pail Kids aesthetic. The studio easily could’ve slapped together another junket of levels—with no significant iteration on the core obstacle dodging—and enjoyed a rousing reception from Meat Boy’s abating community of diehards and speedrunners. Instead, Team Meat went the opposite route. Super Meat Boy Forever reminds me a lot of Super Mario Bros 2. The characters are all familiar, sure, but the design is a significant departure from what made the first one a classic. For better or worse.

Dr Fetus is back, once again disrupting the dulcet civilian union of Meat Boy and Bandage Girl. He’s kidnapped their adorable, disgusting child, named Nugget, so they must negotiate an infernal gauntlet of steel buzzsaws, rusty syringes, and radiating laser beams to get him back. The only difference is that now, Super Meat Boy is an autorunner. From the moment you boot up the game, the protagonist will be locked in a dead sprint towards the right side of the screen. The traditional hairline twitches of the genre—pulling up on the joystick at just the right moment to avoid certain death, switching orientation in mid-air—have all been banished. Instead, Forever is a game primarily about timing. With limited authority over the way Meat Boy moves, you are left with a series of precise jumps and dodges to keep the cuddly blob alive as he carves through the Rube Goldberg death traps in front of him—like a parent doting over a precocious, highly elastic toddler.

(Image credit: Team Meat)

This was a tough sell going in. One of the reasons people adore Super Meat Boy is for its airtight controls. Reforging that functionality, scaling back the precision, seemed like an odd choice at best and a disastrous one at worst. Fortunately, Forever is far from a calamity. A lot of the glee found in the original—the white-knuckle chaos of a platformer that moves so fast that you’re forced to rely on your primal instincts rather than your deductive acumen—is replicated in the sequel. Those moments where everything clicks, and you finally pass through a helter-skelter trial unscathed, remain profoundly sublime. Team Meat has also generated enough wrinkles to keep the auto-running blueprint from growing too staid. One world introduces a belligerent purple beam of light that, when defeated, briefly infuses Meat Boy with the ability to blast through certain barriers. Elsewhere, I found tiles that, when passed through, turn solid, allowing me the chance to bounce backwards onto them as I was searching for higher ground.

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