The story picks up after the events of Super Meat Boy, wherein Meat Boy had to save Bandage Girl from Dr. Fetus. In Super Meat Boy Forever, Meat Boy and Bandage Girl have formed a happy family with their baby Nugget. Unfortunately, the evil Dr. Fetus is lurking in the shadows and kidnaps Nugget while the family is having a peaceful picnic. This means Bandage Girl and Meat Boy must rescue their child.
With the opening theme of a bright and cheery family picnic, this shift in setting from the previous game makes the series far less gritty and approachable for new players. Super Meat Boy Forever reminded me of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games, where each platform is high-speed and brightly colored, and the boss fights are full of mecha and require a lot of jumping and kicking.
With the rescue of Nugget at stake, the tonal shift of color and pacing in this sequel seems less like a factor of the development team evolving and more of an intentional way to depict this as a family-driven story.
Each level has dynamic and vibrant backgrounds juxtaposed with the foreground, adding depth to the scenery. The obstacles are just as difficult as the original title, but the pacing and level designs are easier for a wider audience of varying skill levels. Each time you complete a level feels satisfying and earned, rather than the rigorous try and fail grind of its predecessor.
Even with this difference in feel, the game maintains a lot of the same characteristics as the previous title. The levels are hazardous, the music blasts with metal, your respawn timer is quick, and your chances to retry a section are seemingly endless.
Now that Bandage Girl is a playable character, I spent most of my time with her. This isn’t a Mario and Luigi situation, where one can jump higher or has a different set of moves. Both Bandage Girl and Meat Boy play just as smoothly as one another, leaving it only to player preference how they want to get through the levels.
Despite the high intensity of the title, the Switch never experienced latency that would impede gameplay. Input for jumping and kicking was received well; even during the chaos of a boss fight, every screw-up was on me.
Super Meat Boy Forever will frustrate you; there’s no doubt about it. But that’s part of its draw. Just as games like Cuphead have an audience, the Super Meat Boy franchise has a slightly less masochistic one. Super Meat Boy Forever’s intention isn’t to deride you for playing. If anything, Team Meat has found the secret ingredient for giving a platform an edge that makes you want to keep playing through to the end.