The whirl of the blades whip past as you race further towards your destruction. Sliding, running, leaping, and tumbling your way toward the end, whether that be your own short but extraordinary life or a successful completion of the level and rescue of your daughter Super Meat Boy Forever cares little, this is a game that can’t be concerned about such trivial matters as the safety of it’s hero, or whether pain, suffering, and anguish will be thrown onto the player.
It knows it will. That it’s goal. To punish the unworthy. To demand perfection. To challenge, push, and ask the player to raise to meet it or it will cast you aside and with a smirk merely say, try again.
Super Meat Boy Forever enters the gaming arena having ditched the formula and skillset of the original and instead offers up a fundamental change in things by switching the gameplay to one where Meat Boy never stops running.
The patience, thoughtful contemplation, and focus on thinking through the brutal and increasingly masocatic levels from the original is thrown out in favor of rapid fire, go with your gut, no time to stop and think pace of Forever. Worry not though, the levels are still brutal and unforgiving, just in delightfully new ways.
I played through the first four or five levels of the game during my half hour appointment during Pax and I can immediately assure anybody concerned by the switch in format that Forever remains as steadfastly devoted to pain-staking detail and small, brilliant touches as the original.
Perhaps my favorite thing about getting to experience Super Meat Boy Forever was how well it captured the feelings and magic of the original. Going into the demo I had my concerns about switching to a gameplay style where Meat Boy never stops running, how would that work with the level of difficulty that Meat Boy prides itself on? How would it be able to capture the intricate, highly detailed level design?
Well, in short, the answer is fantastically. The skill and nuance required from the first game, a title that I’ve poured close to a hundred hours into, is matched in Forever while also being coupled with a more fluid and indeed nerve-wracking gameplay experience. Forever remains unforgiving and uncomfortably precise, the slightest misstep will be punished. Yet, the decision to make Meat Boy never stop running actually works more in favor of Team Meat’s idea to force players to practice the same level over and over again to perfection.
This is aided and enhanced by the games decision to add checkpoints to its proceedings. With the levels themselves being longer and more complex then before the addition of some sort of checkpoint system becomes a virtual requirement and one that actually furthers the experience by allowing you to master particular segments of a level before moving on to the next area to work at and grind some improvement. This allows players to actually work on the areas they struggle at the most instead of Super Meat Boy’s demand that you redo the entire level, thus making the player get less practice at the one or two areas they may be struggling at most.
The addition of checkpoints also makes this an easier title to wrap your head around and get some practice under your belt if you are new to the Meat Boy world. Fear not though if you are a hardcore, tough as nails gamer, you can up the challenge and turn the checkpoints off at any time if you like. Allowing for newer players to experience and grow with your game while also having brutal conditions for returning vets is about as perfect a scenario as Team Meat could provide.
Indeed in many ways Super Meat Boy Forever seems like the fulfillment of a nearly eight year journey for Team Meat, it actively felt while playing this game that this was the ultimate Meat Boy experience, that if they didn’t want to do this from the very beginning they certainly realized this could provide a challenge, skill, and commitment that even the first legendary game couldn’t match.
Super Meat Boy Forever thus seems poised to be a worthy successor to the first game and indeed to an entire generation of older, blistering difficult titles from gamings yesteryears like Ninja Gaiden, Ghouls and Ghosts, and Mega Man. Games that required constant practice, hours and hours poured in, and a desire to see a probably unhealthy level of pain and frustration inflicted on yourself. In this, like in so much else Super Meat Boy Forever appears to be a success and also appears to be one of the year’s most exciting and unique titles.