The development team at Headup Development has brought us the diabolical game known as Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine. Players may know Dr. Fetus as the main antagonist from the Super Meat Boy franchise. If you are familiar with the game Puyo Puyo, then players can try this new puzzle arcade with a large-difficulty twist. Where? You might ask well it’s out now on Steam, PlayStation, Xbox and Switch for £7.99. A demo is also available on Steam for those who are cautious and know what the world of Super Meat Boy is like.
Who knew evil could look so cute?
I remember playing Super Meat Boy and never beating the game. When I saw this game released, you know what they say about the cat? I enjoy playing challenging games such as the Soulsborne games or the Nioh franchise, so why not try a puzzle game? I’m looking for a challenge, and Dr. Fetus seems to have the prescription I need with his new appearance in Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine.
The story takes place just after the events of Super Meat Boy Forever. Dr. Fetus had been using cameras that he placed in the stages to record the movements and characteristics of Meat Boy. Now that he has collected enough data to recreate his own copy of Super Meat Boy, he can clone his own! The problem is the DNA Dr. Fetus has collected isn’t the best and is now creating terrible clones. No problem for the Dr as he makes the clones go through his terrible machines in hopes that the perfect specimen will emerge.
In Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine, players will be controlling two clones and must stack them in their respective colours to create a chain. When performing a chain, a bar on the left side of the screen will start to fill up with levels having several bars to fill. You can make a chain by connecting four clones of the same colour by placing them horizontally or vertically but not diagonally. Multiple chains are triggered if a clone of another colour falls to its pair after the first chain is activated. When the clones fall, one will flash white, meaning the other can rotate around it. This feature is helpful to know as it helps when placing them.
Puyo Puyo, but with a twist
What makes Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine different from Puyo Puyo is the introduction of dangerous obstacles. After the tutorial, players will have six worlds, each with their own themes and consisting of twenty levels. Depending on the world, the hurdles may vary. Some might be lasers that freeze the clones. Another might be a bug that chases the clone when it moves. The Hospital specialises in ghosts that bounce around to kill the player’s clones.
If the player does perish during a run (which is very likely), then they will have to replay the whole segment again. The objective is to fill up the bars. When a bar fills, the level will get trickier. If a player dies after a bar is full, not to worry, there are checkpoints. However, this does cause some issues since the layout of the clones will remain the same from where the checkpoint is.
Oh boy, more traps.
Let’s talk more about the traps and obstacles in Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine that players will struggle through to finish the game. Some of the more tame traps players will encounter are saws that stay in place, while others will move around or rotate. There are lasers that hit your clones, making them transparent and useless blocks until a chain destroys them. Depending on the level, some traps are avoided a bit easier, like the missile launchers that target the latest clones that are placed down.
Honestly, I found the worst traps in world six, which decides to add dynamite to both levels and some clones. If a chain occurs when dynamite is near, it will destroy some platforms and future chains. In later levels, they don’t give players much chance to make chains, so don’t count on getting that invulnerability on the regular from chains.
Bosses you’ll meat.
Once you reach the last level of the world, players will face off against the boss. I found these fights quite fun but challenging. Often times I struggled to make one chain, never mind trying to pull off multiple. Since the boss or obstacles don’t let up. This problem happens very often during the game. Which really takes its toll after a while. If you pull off several chains, the clones become invulnerable for a few seconds and will ignore any obstacles.
Bosses have unique ways on how they will become your next hindrance in Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine. Some, like the chainsaw machine, will take over some areas and slash down in a straight line. Others will be much worse, for example, the last boss, who seemed to be Dr. Fetus himself. He will send down multiple boxes that will stop you from making chains, and with each wave completed, the level will then add more traps.
Graphics & Audio
I found the music in Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine quite uplifting and upbeat. It fitted really well with the game’s cartoony themes. The sound effects were also good. When choosing a world, you can hear Dr. Fetus click on his computer, and after a clone dies in any way, the squish noises are satisfying.
Where the game truly shines is in its visuals. The stages have a vibrant ray of colours, and all look unique (with the Lava world being my favourite). Leaving blood on the levels and traps after the clones had died several times in that area is a nice touch. I remember it being the same with Super Meat Boy after he died. The player could make the concrete red. I am sad that we didn’t get more cutscenes apart from the beginning and end, as I would have loved to have seen one after each boss fight.
I did it! It took me under ten hours to beat the game and all six worlds. There isn’t much for replying unless you want to be a masochist and aim to get an A+ rating in each level. To get the A+ rating, players will have to beat the level’s timer. I managed to do this passively, but with the hell, I went to on my first run, I am more than happy to pass.
Playing Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine was honestly hell (but in a good way). I came looking for a challenge, and it was delivered. I admit sometimes I wanted to give up and ditch the game altogether, but I just couldn’t put it down. Every level I beat felt like a reward in itself. I would highly recommend playing with small breaks for both your mental health (and the controller’s health), as this game will get you angry with some of the traps.
The little fun game at the end of the credits was adorable, and I would recommend this to people looking for a challenge. This game has a lot of charm, and the team at Headup Development has outdone themselves. If you are still curious after reading this review, a demo is available now on the Steam Store.
I award Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine the Thumb Cultures Golden Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.