Guacamelee! is a beautiful, 2D side-scrolling, Metroidvania style, brawler developed by DrinkBox Studios. Originally released on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita last year, The Super Turbo Championship Edition brings new areas, abilities, enemies and a new boss fight to PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. While it is packed with bonus content, DrinkBox Studios manages to bring the same over the top fun as the original.
You play as Juan, a farmer-turned-Luchador, living in the small village of Pueblucho. You quickly meet El Presidente’s Daughter and learn the two have a long standing relationship that has never reached it’s full potential. In a not-so-surprising chain of events, El Presidente’s Daughter is kidnapped by the game’s main antagonist, the villainous skeleton Carlos Calaca. Once a man, Calaca has a dark past that lead him to become the skeleton he is now, seeking revenge and trying to merge the world of the living with the world of the dead.
The story itself is rather cliche; however the cast of supporting characters in the game really let the storyline shine. Throughout Guacamelee!, you meet each boss multiple times before your final encounter however, each battle is masterfully crafted to feel different from the last. Unlike presenting a villain and telling you they are evil, Guacamelee! establishes a story behind every boss explaining their descent to villainy. You really get to see what their own motivations were and you almost regret taking them down in the end. Except for Flame Face. That guy is a jerk.
The character’s supporting Juan are just as fun as the villains in Guacamelee! My personal favorite, Uay Chivo, is an old man who has the ability to transform into a goat. He teaches you new moves throughout the game, and his dialogue is absolutely hilarious. The humor throughout the rest of the game is also strong, and I found myself laughing a good amount more than I thought I would going into the game.
Guacamelee! has its own sort of style, the kind of style that makes you pay attention as soon the title screen pops up on your television. The game itself looks beautiful, with all the colors of the rainbow getting even representation throughout. Animations are fluid and I never noticed a drop in frame rate, despite some really hectic fights going on. I will mention that occasionally there can be too many enemies on the screen. With all the jumping, teleporting, attacking, exploding and projectile shooting going on, it can be hard to keep track of where your character is. However, this is just a minor gripe in what is, overall, a great looking game.
On top of the colorful art style, the game has a wonderful soundtrack. Included are a myriad of ambient background noises that really make you feel like you’re in a living world. Not many 2D platformers can pull that off, and I wasn’t expecting for the sounds in Guacamelee! to blow me away. From wolves howling, to the simple sound of the wind in the desert, the sound design is top notch. I loved stopping and listening for a few seconds every time I reached a new area, just to take in the surroundings. I highly recommend a good pair of headphones for this experience, you’ll get so much more out of it that way.
Speaking of experience, the most important part of any game is the gameplay; I can report that Guacamelee! delivers. Juan is easy enough to control, whether running, fighting or jumping. There are a few parts throughout the game where the difficulty jumps up a notch, but I was never stuck for more than a few minutes on any one section.
The combat feels great–after you have unlocked all of the different combos and powers you feel almost unstoppable. That is, until new enemy types get thrown at you. Guacamelee! introduces new enemies to you throughout the game, including a brand new enemy type in the very last level, and it always feels fresh because of it.
Even if you do happen to perish, the game is very forgiving in death. If you fail while platforming, the game immediately sends you back to the closest flat platform you launched from. If you die in combat, you respawn in the last room before the one where you met your demise. I liked the simplicity of the respawning as it meant I rarely had to replay sections I had already passed.
Being a review for the Super Turbo Championship Edition I should probably talk a little about all of the additional content included in the Super Turbo Championship Edition. The new boss fight that is included fits seamlessly into the story mode and was one of my personal favorites. The DLC outfits were added in as buyable from the in game shop which was a nice touch. Plus the two new areas fit right in and if you’re playing for the first time, you shouldn’t notice anything off at all.
The Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is a great 2D side-scrolling brawler that I would highly recommend to anyone who missed out on Guacamelee! Even if you did happen to pick it up last year, the wealth of new content is definitely worth the price tag. While there are some difficulty spikes, they are few and far between and never detract from the overall experience. Guacamelee! is pure fun from the moment the announcer on the title screen yells its name. What are you waiting for? Go see for yourself!
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