“Save me, please, Señor Luchador!!”
In early 2013, Drinkbox Studios (Tales From Space series), an independent video game development studio located in Toronto, brought us GUACAMELEE!. A spectacular Metroidvania-style game, with a memorable gameplay, a huge sense of humor and a lot of jokes and other famous games references. This first release was exclusive for Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and PC.
On July 2014, and with the addition of the “Super Turbo Championship Edition” suffix, the game was “rebooted”, now being available for Playstation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and Xbox 360.
Including a whole new set of features, the game still looks amazing and keeps surprising us as well.
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition.
Juan Aguacate is a humble agave farmer who lives in the outskirts of a small Mexican village. He is strong and kind-hearted, and likes to aid anyone who needs help.
He’s is also in love with El Presidente’s daughter, a girl he knows since his childhood.
As the village people was making the preparations for “El Día de los Muertos” celebrations, the president’s mansion is attacked.
Carlos Calaca, a villain who came from the dead world, is the responsible. He kidnapps El Presidente’s daughter in order to perform a sacrifice ritual which will allow him to take over both the dead and living worlds.
When Juan attemps to rescue her, Calaca kills him. Once in the dead world, Juan finds a girl, Tostada, who gives a special “Luchador” mask, whick provides Juan with great powers. Now he is able to return to the living world, and search for Calaca before is too late.
GUACAMELEE! is a Metroidvania, which means it has an action-platformer style, as the Metroid/Castlevania sagas. In a complete 2D environment, we control Juan as he is on pursuit of Calaca. The character starts with a basic set of punchs and kicks, but they are son complemented by new skills. As we advance and discover new areas, the movements list will be filled with uppercuts, grabs and headbutts, and all of them will let us perform amazing combos when combined.
The player will explore a non-linear map, with tons of hidden passages and secret areas. There is an emphasis in back-tracking, as certain areas just can be unlocked when we obtain certain move or ability.
Fighting our way through the levels, we will collect coins and find treasure chests. These chest will contain more coins (used to buy new skills) and Heart or Skull fragments. If we find three of each, our life and skill meters will be extended respectively.
As I said before, the game is full of humor and famous games references, not only in some easter eggs or visual details, but also in important gameplay systems or even boss battles. Those who catch any of these o details can’t help to smile.Awesome.
One of the most interesting game aspects is the dead/living world duality. Early in the game, Juan will adquire the power to move between worlds at will. This will not only change the levels design, but will be strategically neccesary in order to open passages or defeat enemies. Some sections requiere constant world swichting, even in the middle of risky jumps or battles with a large ammount of enemies in screen. Despite the frenetic action and tension, the game controls respond smoothly, something to be grateful. If we fail, it’ll be our fault, not the gamepad’s.
The “Super Turbo Championship Edition” contains some extras that where not included in the original version, such as the inclusion of all its DLC; little details as life bars above the enemies or different costumes to buy, and huge changes as new maps, new enemies and even a new boss, all of them perfectly added to the previous story.
There is no doubt GUACAMELEE! is a visual delight. The old school design is contrasted with beautiful modern characters and environments models. The characters animation is fluid, with a hand-drawn style which is a pleasure to see.
The Mexican culture influences the game spirit. Inspired by “El Día de los Muertos” celebrations, skulls, bones and big hats fill every corner.
The nicest and most enjoyable thing to see is the instant change of dimension.
With just a button pressing, we can turn every scenario in the opposite world location. Turning villages into ruins or living people into skeletons, and going back in the process in one second, is really funny.
Of course, we can’t forget to mention the hilarious in-game cutscenes and the flashy screens that pops up every time we get a new power, all of them so bizarre and exagerated that we’ll surely have a laugh at them.
MUSIC AND AUDIO.
As regards the sound departament, I have a mixed opinion about GUACAMELEE! On one side, the sound effects are loud and convincing. Every punch, kick and toss sounds in a spectacular high volume, which almost make us fell the enemies pain.
The music is beautiful. Folklorical Mexican songs surround every level, changing according the situation, going from cheerful serenades to gloomy ballades. We feel the life and joy of the living world through the happy music, people mumbling and animal sounds, on the other hand, the dead world is full of a sinister and shady atmosphere, with bones cracking and creepy noises.
The weakest feature in this sections is the lack of voices. Ok, it gives the game a comic-like style, but this is something I consider inacceptable nowadays. That’s just how I see it.
GUACAMELEE! SUPER TURBO CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION is an awesome game. With its frenetic action, tons of movements and combos, and huge sense of humor and ridiculousness, the game makes fun of itself and other famous games as well.
Reccomended for any kind of player, but a MUST for Metroidvania fans.
Oh, I almost forget. It supports offline cooperative gameplay. How great is that?