Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC

Super Meat Boy and Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien are two of my favorite games. You’d think Super Meat Boy Forever would be the perfect combination of both play styles. While it’s certainly a fun game, that’s unfortunately not the case. Thankfully, Super Meat Boy Forever gives you just enough bloody entertainment to keep you busy for at least a couple of playthroughs. It’s going to disappoint some fans of the previous game, but if you stick with it, you’ll find an auto-runner that’s filled with heart — a squishy, chopped up heart.

The Band Is Back Together… and So Are the Saw Blades

If you played Super Meat Boy — itself a follow-up to the Flash game Meat Boy — you should be pretty familiar with the narrative and characters here. Dr. Fetus is back, and he once again wants to destroy the lives of Meat Boy and Bandage Girl. This time he kidnaps Nugget, the couple’s newborn child. As you might expect, there’s plenty of cartoon violence here. Though seeing Dr. Fetus smack Meat Boy, Bandage Girl, and Nugget around is still kind of funny, the humor is a bit tired at this point — it warrants a chuckle, at most.

Nugget’s kidnapping is a brief setup for the auto-running levels of Super Meat Boy Forever. As you play through grueling level after grueling level, you’ll be treated to moving saw blades, pesky enemies, and deadly pitfalls. All the standard obstacles are there, and they’re combined quite nicely in the game’s many procedurally-generated levels.

Like Super Meat Boy before it, Forever works because it’s tough but fair. Yes, this is a difficult game, and yes, by the end of each level you’ll have died dozens and dozens of times. At the same time, though, Super Meat Boy Forever sets you up for success. Though you won’t be controlling Meat Boy and Bandage Girl’s movement, you’ll still have to time hop, wall jump, and kick perfectly. The checkpoint system is pretty forgiving, so you’ll rarely have to start from too far back when you die.

It’s important to note, though, that you have very little in terms of preparation. Because the running gameplay moves at a fast pace, you’ll have to keep your wits sharp at all times, which can be difficult considering how much stuff is out to get you. This creates a combination of welcome tension and annoying trial-and-error. It’s exciting, exhilarating even, meeting obstacles head-on and not knowing what’s next. But it’s also simultaneously taxing retrying the same part of a level over and over again because you need to hit a specific jump perfectly.

Good, but Maybe Not Better Than Ever

Like Meat Boy and Bandage Girl’s previous adventure, there’s a Flash-like charm to the characters, environments, and backgrounds of Super Meat Boy Forever. Areas can start to look a bit same-y after a while, though, especially if you go for multiple playthroughs. The procedurally-generated design of the game can only do so much before you start seeing levels that are stylistically similar. Not to mention, since you’re constantly moving forward automatically, you won’t get a chance to really take in any of the environments anyway.

You’ll hear a lot of catchy music as you play Super Meat Boy Forever. Like the graphics, though, you’ll hear so many of the same themes repeatedly that they’ll begin to get a bit repetitive. It’s not that the music is bad — you just hear the same stuff as you die and retry levels over 20 or 30 times each.

It’ll take you four to five hours to reach the end of Super Meat Boy Forever. At that point, you’ll either want to give it another go to see more of the game’s levels, or you might have had your fill. There are collectible items in each level to seek out, but I never felt compelled to go hunting for them. Yes, I had fun while playing, but I kept thinking that Super Meat Boy Forever could’ve been more. It didn’t scratch that Super Meat Boy itch for me, and it’s not a near-perfect running character game like Runner2 was.

Sadly, you’re either going to get a kick out of Super Meat Boy Forever, or you’re going to be disappointed… or even both. It’s important to manage your expectations accordingly. This isn’t the follow-up to Super Meat Boy we all hoped for, but it might still be worth a look for some folks.