Frivolous Waste of Time

Sci-fi, fantasy and video games

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition for PS4, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

I was inclined to like this game based on the name alone, so it was doubly nice to actually enjoy it a lot as well. Guacamelee! is a game which combines a whole bunch of influences in fun and interesting ways, all wrapped up in a stylish and charmingly different aesthetic. Oh, and I’m going to include that exclamation mark the entire way through, try and stop me.

The protagonist of Guacamelee! is a Mexican farmer called Juan, a childhood friend of the daughter of ‘El Presidente.’ When visiting El Presidente’s manor, an evil spirit called Carlos Calaca attacks the village and kidnaps El Presidente’s daughter, killing Juan as he tries to stop him. Juan finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where he comes into the possession of a mask which transformers him into a powerful luchador (Mexican wrestler). Juan returns to the World of the Living to rescue El Presidente’s daughter and stop Calaca. Guacamelee!’s focus isn’t story, and it never really goes in any interesting directions. There’s a fair few laughs though, with a witty and self-referential script and plenty of wider references as well. There’s a reference amusing in its blatantness to Metroid, as well as your standard Mario and Zelda references as well. I even saw a reference to my beloved Homestar Runner.

Guacamelee! is a side scrolling brawler crossed with a Metroidvania. Juan makes his way through the relatively open world, going through a series of dungeons and learning techniques which allow him to reach new areas. These techniques are fun, from a simple headbutt to one which launches you indefinitely from any vertical surface. This is the kind of game where even basic traversal is made fun. There is also a ‘double world’ concept, with the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead, in the style of something like A Link to the Past or Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Eventually, you can move between these at will, leading to some genuinely fiendish jumping puzzles. There are loads of other abilities, but I

don’t want to spoil them. This being a Metroidvania, there’s naturally lots of stuff to be found off the beaten track, such as health upgrades and money, which can be used to purchase combat upgrades.

Ah yes, speaking of combat; Guacamelee! may not have the best world to explore in a Metroidvania, it can get a little same-y, but it probably has the best combat. There are basic brawling button mashing fare, but alongside that are wrestling throws, which can be used to take down rows of enemies like bowling pins. It’s always fun. The combat can get very tricky, with combinations of enemies which can only be attacked in the worlds of the living or dead (but can hit you from either), alongside foes whose shields can only be broken by certain attacks, to flying enemies to exploding enemies to giant enemies or enemies throwing projectiles. It can all get pleasingly chaotic and frantic.

The graphical style is lovely and charming, and the music plays with Mexican musical tropes to put together some fun tunes. The character animations for Juan and the enemies are detailed and striking; I enjoyed Juan’s ridiculous exaggerated run right up until the end. I wonder if a little more could have been done with the style, as Guacemelee! Is certainly a game which would have lent itself to some more stylistic moments, but it’s still a lovely looking game regardless.

Guacamelee! is a perfect summer game to get you throw the drought; light enough to not weigh you down, but meaty enough to be satisfying. There’s also loads of side stuff if you want it, but if not the central main story is more than enough. Since it’s on pretty much every console, I can happily and unreservedly recommend this to anyone.cover_large

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