Plus, plans for a movie and a third game
Super Meat Boy Forever feels like it’s taking, well, forever. Originally set for April, Team Meat had to delay and set a new imprecise launch date of “After but not too far after April 2019.” Now five months later, the clock keeps ticking and there’s no end in sight. What’s the deal?
“I’m terrible at estimating time,” Team Meat head Tommy Refenes tells me at PAX West. “It’s literally ‘Oh yeah — it takes a long time to make, test, and decorate thousands and thousands of levels.’ That’s what it is. You would think we got to a point where we had like a thousand levels and we couldn’t do anything more with it. But we actually have to cut it down so that we can get the game out. Then, we’ll expand on that. It’s not that I’m unhappy with anything, it’s that I’m terrible at estimating time.”
As for an official update as to how close Super Meat Boy Forever is to being finished, Refenes offers “It’s getting there.” He elaborates “We have the entire soundtrack done, we have almost 55 minutes of fully-animated cutscenes all done. We’re testing levels, making Dark World levels, and making adjustments. I think we’re going to launch with 5,500 levels. I really underestimated with April. But I don’t ever want to guess again until [all the content is finished] because then it’s all me. It’s just getting it through certification and fixing bugs and stuff like that. Then at that point, I’ll go ‘Okay, it’ll be like two months’ or whatever.”
If that sounds like a massive undertaking, that’s because it is. “It was really kind of dumb to [add that much content],” Refenes relents. “But the end result is a Meat Boy game that has more levels in the first three levels than the original had in the entire game. It’s ambitious. I think that’s the term for it.”
In some ways, this development allows Refenes to spread his wings more than usual. He’s branching out and trying some new things. “I got to actually split my talents a little bit because I wrote the script for all the cutscenes,” he says. [They’re] like movie scripts, and I’ve been working with the animators to actually direct them. That has been fun. In doing that, I actually planned the next game in the series because there is a third game I want to do.”
These animated scenes may be a godsend for anyone who wants to see the Meat Boy lore without subjecting themselves to the grueling punishment of actually making it through Forever. Refenes plans to essentially adapt the game into a movie. “When the game’s out, we have all these cutscenes. They’re like boss intro, you fight the boss, boss outro. We’re going to animate the boss fights and then put it together in like an 80-minute Blu-Ray or something,” Refenes teased. “Because why not? I’m excited about doing that because I’ve always wanted to make a movie, and then I kinda did.”
As for the future, Refenes intends for Super Meat Boy to be a trilogy. “I mentioned the third game I want to do. I think we’re gonna start on that pretty quick [after Forever is finished],” he says. “But it’ll be a much more relaxed ‘Let’s just start a game.’ It won’t have been nine years since I launched the other one.” Fans can expect the pace to pick up and the wait to be a lot shorter. “Every three years sounds pretty good for a giant Team Meat game,” Refenes concludes.