The next Meat Boy game parodies a '90s Sonic spinoff

Dr. Fetus slices up a picture of Meat Boy.
(Image credit: Thunderful)

Everyone loves Meat Boy, though sadly our fleshy friend is now one of those characters that floats free of its creator, Edmund McMillen, who happily signed the rights away to Super Meat Boy co-creator Tommy Refenes. The 2010 platformer was almost universally praised and became a breakout hit, though the sequel Super Meat Boy Forever wouldn't appear until 2020 and… well, it just didn't quite have the joy.

If the games showed us anything though, it's that Meat Boy takes a pounding (and a slicing and a burning) and comes bouncing right back. The new game Dr. Fetus' Mean Meat Machine, however, is moving away from the platforming and is basically parodying a Sonic spinoff from the 90s. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine was itself a re-jigged version of the classic Puyo Puyo, and this basically looks like a contemporary version of those puzzling mechanics with lots of drills, saws, and various other implements messing around in the playing area.

The game's Steam page says it's a combination of "puzzle-gameplay and hardcore platforming elements that Super Meat Boy is known for", though the latter are notable by their absence in the trailer. The only thing I can think is that this is a reference to how the little meat slabs 'run' down the playing area, and if that is what this is referring to then it's rather misleading. The game will have over 100 levels, along with boss fights at the end of each world, and feature the return of Meat Boy environments like the hospital and salt factory.

Puyo Puyo is a great game, but the twist here is going to be the traps and hazards that encroach on the playing area. I'm guessing these screw up your lovingly arranged combinations which is one of those things that could be incredibly irritating or a game-changer: The pleasure in these puzzlers is very much planning and arranging out a board so that your chances of mega-chains are optimised. If that's constantly getting ruined by a chainsaw, well, it could go either way.

This does also seem like it'll be re-using and re-mixing a lot of elements from the platformers, which of course is fine because this is a Meat Boy game, but it is surprising that this is the next Meat Boy game. I'm also not a massive fan of the name. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is a feast of internal rhyme, whereas Dr. Fetus' Mean Meat Machine feels one-note by comparison. Come on: Dr. Fetus' Meat Beating Bejeebus was right there.

One confusing element is that the developer is Headup Development, a studio that doesn't appear to have much of a track record, and it's being "developed in cooperation with Team Meat," rather than by Team Meat. I've asked Thunderful for some clarity here, and whether Tommy Refenes still owns the Meat Boy rights, and will update with any response.

As for Meat Boy creator Edmund McMillen, who hasn't been involved since Super Meat Boy, every so often he politely reminds his followers that he didn't make Super Meat Boy Forever (but "I still love my baby boy!") and has clarified that, no, he's not going to be involved with this either: But does say it's a Team Meat joint.

I love your baby boy too Edmund. It's just, these days, I do wonder what's going to become of him.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."