Monday 18 January 2021

Super Meat Boy Forever Review (Nintendo Switch)

Super Meat Boy holds legendary status in the realms of indie games. A brutally brilliant twitch platformer it mixed trigger finger action with a dark humour and exceptional level design. Anticipation has been high for a follow up and now Super Meat Boy Forever has arrived…. And it’s an endless runner.

Super Meat Boy as an endless runner? Yes, apparently so. When we first sat down and booted the game up only to see Meat Boy zooming across the level unaided we had to check to make sure the controls were working properly. A quick jump to the settings came next to check if it was an optional mode but no, it seems Super Meat Boy Forever is indeed meant to be an endless runner and sadly it isn’t even the best one on the Switch.

Moving away from the controversial continual momentum for a moment, everything else we have come to associate with Meat Boy is here. The dark humour, the beautiful comic cut scenes and the addition of the revolving levels which means no two trips through the four areas are destined to be the same all stand out as both great ideas and evidence that things have had a lot of attention put into them. But the core of the game just doesn’t work very well.

To clarify, we aren’t against the genre – Bit Trip Runner is an absolutely brilliant take on the idea and a game that has shown that this type of game can make its way onto consoles and still feel creative and substantial. But Meat Boy Forever is not Bit Trip Runner. It lacks precision and flair and the general sense of fun that those games have. Indeed, after our first few plays the game was already beginning to feel tired and dated.

The problem is that the first Meat Boy was crushingly tough but also addictive and fun. Forever is neither of these things and is simply frustrating for the sake of it with many deaths being due to unseen hazards or poor control implementation. The days of memory test platformers are long gone and we have no desire to see them appear again. The levels are also much less creative and simply become a war of attrition as Meat Boy continually dies, restarts a few seconds before the event, then smashes back into the same thing again unless you’ve judged the exact point he becomes controllable and hit the jump button.

If there is one saving grace it’s the bosses. The giant constructions are the closest thing in the game that recalls the greatness of its predecessor. Here the design is much more creative and often involves manoeuvring your character around quite compact spaces to bring down the hulking machines of doom. If only this high standard of design had made it into all the other levels of the game.

Overall, it is hard to feel anything but disappointment at how Super Meat Boy Forever has turned out. There are some good ideas here and the presentation is great but the game just feels unpolished, repetitive and not up to the standard we would expect from the team. It seems pretty clear this was meant to be a mobile game that has ended up on consoles.  It doesn’t really work as a platformer or a quality endless runner. It pains us to say it but it’s simply not very good.

Overall 5/10

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