Super Meat Boy Forever might be an auto-runner, but the ultra-hard platforming mechanics Super Meat Boy is known for is still very present.
Super Meat Boy Forever has undergone a long and tumultuous development story since it was initially announced as a mobile-only sequel back in 2014. When I first heard that Super Meat Boy Forever was still going to be an auto-runner, I couldn’t help but look at the game with a side-eye. After sitting down with Tommy Refenes at PAX East 2018 and trying out Super Meat Boy Forever firsthand, though, my doubts were erased.
Yes, Super Meat Boy Forever is an auto-runner, despite its plans to release on basically every modern gaming platform. But the difference between Super Meat Boy Forever and other endless runners like Super Mario Run is that the heart of the series is still alive. Super Meat Boy is all about tight challenging action platforming. Refenes stressed that the auto-running mechanic allows them to do something new but that they still wanted that challenging gameplay to be ever-present. Having played the first chapter and change at PAX East, I can attest that that goal was definitely met.
A big part of Super Meat Boy Forever’s difficulty comes with how it randomly generates each level. There is a bit of machine learning going on in the background: the game takes note of what type of platforming challenges you are good and bad at. If you struggle with a certain type of challenge, Super Meat Boy Forever will actually throw more of those same “chunks” at you as your progress through the game. I saw this firsthand during my preview, as I failed numerous times to moving sawblades that came back to haunt me later on in the demo.
Team Meat even tried to integrate the “endless runner” mechanic into the game’s story. Meat Boy and Bandage Girl now have a daughter named Nugget. But of course, the infamous Dr. Fetus kidnaps her. That is why Meat Boy never stops running: he is on a quest to save his daughter and will stop at nothing until he does so. Refenes referenced the movie Taken, comparing Meat Boy to Liam Neeson and his “special set of skills.”
The sequel controls a bit different from its predecessor, as you might imagine. The game only utilizes two buttons: jump and attack. These two moves are slightly modified based on your direction and timing, enabling you to slide up walls and propel yourself midair with attacks. Besides the in-game tutorials telling me so, it was clear this was the case by how sticky the X button on the controller was from so many people mashing it before me. Due to the fact you are always running, your success in the game is very reliant on timing. You aren’t always running in the same direction either: many of the challenges involve wall jumping to change directions to make your way through platforming puzzles.
One of the first things about Super Meat Boy Forever I noticed and greatly appreciated is its relatively forgiving checkpoints. I never felt like I had to replay overly significant segments of the game over and over because I died. The game did a good job throwing me back to the beginning of a new challenge, still showing that bloody path on the ground to mark where I had previously traversed.
Besides its mechanics, the other notable change coming to Super Meat Boy Forever is the amount of content compared to the original game. The game has six full chapters, each split into segments. The first chapter I played had eight segments, which took me about twenty minutes to complete. But this also included some tutorial chapters, and I could tell by the end of the chapter things were quickly starting to ramp up in difficulty.
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Don’t let the “endless runner” buzzword dissuade you from checking out Super Meat Boy Forever. When I went to Thailand last year, one phrase a lot of the locals loved to use was “same, same but different.” While I don’t know how popular Super Meat Boy is out in Thailand, that phrase works perfectly to describe it’s new upcoming sequel. Team Meat has iterated on the game with some new mechanics, but at its core, Super Meat Boy Forever is very much the same game fans have come to love and adore.
Super Meat Boy Forever is set to debut in 2018 on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Refenes mentioned that he plans to eventually bring it to mobile devices as well, but that he is unsure how to handle pricing the game on App Stores.