Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
Platforms: Playstation 3, Playstation Vita
Release Date: April 9th, 2013
When I first saw Guacamelee! at PAX I was instantly captivated by its art style and inspirations from Metroid and Castlevania, but is this new school platformer worthy of the classification of Metroidvania?
The World of the Dead
Guacamelee!’s story starts with Juan, a simple farmer who wakes up one morning to find El Presidente’s mansion up in flames. He soon discovers that El Presidente’s daughter is being kidnapped by a demonic skeleton named “Carlos Calaca.” Calaca instantly kills Juan sending him into the world of the dead. There Juan finds Tostada, Guardian of the Mask. The Mask chooses Juan and he becomes a super powered Luchador and begins his quest to rescue El Presidente’s daughter and avenge his death.
What I love here is the sharp clever writing that Gucamelee! presents. The story here isn’t a chore to read and you can’t wait to bash the next baddies to get the next bit of the story. Just be ready to crack out the 8th grade Spanish since Guacamelee! uses some Spanish words liberally in a comedic fashion.
High Flying Action
Guacamelee! plays like a cross between Metroid and Streets of Rage. Guacamelee! provides a large open world to explore and has flashy satisfying combat. Exploring this world is fantastic with smart level design and fluid control. Guacamelee!’s world may seem small at first, but balloons quickly making you want to explore every nook and cranny. What is generous here is that the game provides the player with a very robust overworld map. Located on the map is color coded doors indicating which special move to use. This make it very easy to remember when you need to go back to open that secret area. However, one of the big problems I found was that I had to constantly open the map to see where my next objective was. The lack of a mini map in Guacamelee! is noticeable because it would have improved the overall pace of the game.
You learn new abilities at a brilliantly timed pace
Guacamelee! does a great job of dangling the carrot in front of the player. You learn new abilities at a brilliantly timed pace making the platforming never dull. With that being said, once you think you got a handle on the platforming, Guacamelee! gives you another ability to master to add to the jumping challenge. Word to the wise here, even to the most veteran retro gamer the platforming elements in this game can be very difficult at times. However, if you miss your jump you will be teleported right where you fell off last with some life taken away.
Combat is simple at first glance, but quickly ramps up when you start completing your arsenal of abilities allowing you to chain together special moves for devastating combos. Later on in the game, enemies start having a different colored shield around them. The color of the shield corresponds with the special move needed to break the shield.
Switching between Light and Dark worlds when fighting multiple enemies can easily become disorienting
On top of all of the that you need to worry about what world you are in since certain enemies can only be damaged in their respected world. Here is where the game runs into a problem with the combat. Switching between Light and Dark worlds when fighting multiple enemies can easily become disorienting and you lose track of exactly what you are trying to kill. After defeating enemies they drop currency used to upgrade your characters health, stamina, and wrestling moves like the power bomb and suplex.
Guacamelee! features a drop-in drop-out co-op mode, but unfortunately there are a few problems with this mode. Only one player needs to get to the edge of the screen to advance to the next area. This will cause the player lagging behind to be teleported to the next screen. This gives the game an unnatural jerky feeling that is not present in the single player mode. Playing in co-op does have its advantages though. The game is much easier since if you die, the other player just needs to survive for about fifteen seconds and then the other player will respawn. If you have a partner that is not very good at platforming, you can finish a jumping puzzle and have your partner teleport to you.
…one of the best 2D games I’ve ever seen.
Guacamelee! is one of the best 2D games I’ve ever seen. The art style reminds me of South Park with a little bit of Mexican flare. Animation here is crisp and buttery smooth with little to no awkward transitions. The attention to detail here is incredible. One of the best looking parts in the game is the main town. For example, running through town you’ll run across children watching a fight between two insects or chickens randomly running around town. You’ll also come across giant Olmec heads that teleport you around the world. This is where most of the memes in the game are located.
Memeingful or not?
Guacamelee!’s memes aren’t for everyone. For those of you who are not familiar with memes, they are grumpy cat, me gusta face, and various video game references. There are some that I came across that I didn’t even understand. However, if you understand any of the memes in the game it will enhance your overall experience. The absolutely best part of Guacamelee! is the soundtrack. Guacamelee! combines classical Mexican instruments with a modern sound and there is even some Dubstep thrown into the mix. The town music will get stuck in your head for hours on end and soon as I finished the game I went and bought the soundtrack right away.
Guacamelee! is a great package, the story is fun, interesting, and keeps you engaged. Some of the best and most difficult platforming to be had and a great combat that stays fresh and never dulls. Unfortunately the experience is over way too fast and clocks in at under five hours. If you are a fan of platforming and Metroidvania style games then Guacamelee! is for you.
BOG’s Guacamelee! Review Score
|8.5||Why so high?
Great 2D art style, Fantastic pacing, Satisfying combat
|Why so low?
The adventure is over fast, awkward co-op mode, difficult platforming