Dr Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine is one of the most difficult and frustrating games I’ve ever played. A play on the old SEGA title “Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine”, this title takes the Puyo Puyo style match game and gives it the ole meat (boy) spin. Tricks, traps, honkytonk music and more await you through 6 worlds and over a hundred levels. Is it worth putting these clones (and yourself) through torture? Nomaybyes?
A Baby in a Bottle
You are Dr. Fetus, the villain of the Super Meat Boy games. In your laboratory, you’ve created clones of your arch nemesis and will conduct experiments in a match 4 puzzle game. The twist is that there are traps galore, ready to destroy your clones and force a restart. Saw blades, ghosts, laser beams, and more are ready to repeatedly ruin your run.
In typical match game fashion, you have various colored Meat Boy clones. Green, Red, Yellow, and Purple disgusting amorphous blobs fall down a chute as you place them down. You can slow them down, speed things up, and even dash left and right to avoid obstacles. None of the levels utilize a straightforward “place things down in a race against the clock” style. Taking inspiration from the Meat Boy series every state is a death pit, full of blade saws and more. Hitting any of these is an instant loss and restart and about halfway through the game, I was ready to punch my Xbox into dust with how difficult it all became.
Touching certain obstacles means you lose, while others will transform your clones. Laser beams will make your hideous monstrosities turn into clear clutter that junks up your playing board. To overcome this, you’ll want to do your damnedest to build up combos. The larger the combo the longer you get invincibility for your pieces. If you’ve ever played a Puyo Puyo-style puzzle game before it’s a simple premise. As you match four of the same pieces together they’ll pop. Anything above them will fall down. Using your big brain and dexterous thumbs you can plan out huge chains for big points.
That’s all different here as the never-ending hazards can make it maddeningly difficult to clear a single group let alone multiple at once. It is classic Meat Boy style to be so maddeningly difficult, unlike that series though this game was full of bugs during my review period. Pieces falling into each other or into the environment ruined numerous potential level clears. More than a few times a level simply stopped working, as if the game had decided I had failed but didn’t want to let me restart without going to the pause menu or turning the game off.
For those who love a challenge, this is the game for you. If you’re like me and value your sanity there are accessibility options. You can lower the game speed and even make your clones invincible. The latter isn’t as helpful as you’d think, as most of the 2nd half of the game’s levels are more about beating the hazards that keep destroying your placed clones (who are not invincible) as it is avoiding getting hit.
Meattastic Sites and Sounds
Dr. Fetus continues the excellent art style of the Meat Boy games, with hilariously gross clones and solid in-between-level cutscene animation. The level variety is decent, though in a game like this, I barely noticed after a while. I was too busy tapping along to the great music and recovering after smashing my head against the wall in frustration.
The soundtrack is a mix of Honkytonk-sounding guitar riffs and synths that works well with the generally light-hearted tone. This is a game about an evil fetus living inside a mech suit that is torturing and killing clones, yet it all feels appropriately goofy in the right way for the IP.
I did run into a lot of bugs in my review period including numerous crashes. Whether I used Quick Resume or not the game never felt the most stable and that’s a shame, as when it works it has flashes of brilliance mixed in with its sadistic puzzle nature. You need to be fast and have things work well to clear the later levels, and a few times the game screwed over what should have been a successful run.
Wrapping Things Up
Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine is an occasionally brilliant match 4 puzzler. It has great ideas mixed with middling execution. I can’t say I “enjoyed” my time playing it, but I appreciated the looks and sounds when I was sane enough to pay attention to them.
Dr. Fetus' Mean Meat Machine
Xbox Series X
- Well Animated
- Great Music
- Great Ideas
- Too Many Bugs
- Difficulty Spikes
- Rarely "fun"
- Frequent Crashes