Drinkbox Studios have given Guacamelee! the upgrade of all upgrades in the form of a Super Turbo Championship Edition. After making its way onto Xbox One and other platforms with all sorts of new content and features, can this newest title from the ID[email protected] program be a smashing hit?
Guacamelee! STCE places you firmly into the boots of a farmer, Juan Aguacate, living in a small Mexican village that ends up in a perilous situation whilst he attempts to save El Presidente’s daughter from the evil skeleton Calaca. Needless to say he is no match for Calaca and meets a quick demise. Fortunately a mysterious luchador (Mexican wrestler) gives him a magical mask that not only brings him back from the dead but turns him into a brawling powerhouse. Juan now hopes to catch up with Calaca and bring him to justice before he can use the kidnapped daughter in a ritual that will allow him the ability to rule in the land of the living as well as the dead.
At first I’ll admit I was sceptical that it’d be punch, kick, run that way, and then run the other way and repeat. It certainly started off in this way but it soon became much more than that. Although you are sent all over the place on route to your main aim it takes a mixture of fighting combo skills, navigating across platforms and finding ways to progress that may require more than a few simple jumps in order to succeed.
The fighting starts off pretty basic with a standard melee combo and grapple moves from a selection of well known wrestling moves; the piledriver, the suplex and a big boot. Throughout the journey you’ll be taught numerous special moves such as a super uppercut or the frog slam. These will drain your stamina so you can’t spam them which make timing the usage of them a key factor. In certain areas the passageways will be blocked off until you defeat a gauntlet of various enemies; I like these because it turns into a personal challenge with myself of getting a higher combo than last time. Using the new Intenso feature comes in very handy because when in use you’re quicker and stronger.
Moving towards the goal of coming face to face with Calaca provides many obstacles of increasing difficulty. At one point I had to get across a large lava pool and it seemed rather unlikely that I’d manage it. Luckily one of the newest features lets you swap between two dimensions (living and dead) at any time and this can mean certain objects disappear or appear in either one. Hence when a problem arises it forces you to combine abilities if you want any chance of solving it. No matter how difficult it seems it’s tougher to execute your plan that to actually strategise it. Reactions and timing is much more important than finding the solution, so when each obstacle is overcome it gives more of a joyous feeling and a sense of “I’m pretty decent at this”.
One of my main bugbears in games is the same old enemies regurgitated over and over throughout an entire story. Not in Guacamelee! though as I can count a fair few different types of lesser enemies with multiple variations to keep you on your toes. A fighting strategy might work for a red skeleton but not for the ground and pound enemies, it really encourages using everything within your arsenal.
As for the main enemies or bosses they are brilliant characters on the whole but it took me a little while to realise they had more to them than just cool designs. By reading the dialogue there’s a shed load of tongue-in-cheek comments and even the evilest beings can make fun of themselves. Especially the Trio of Death, a three-headed skeleton that made me laugh before and after I destroyed them.
For the explorer type players, there are so many tunnels and areas that there’s a load of collectibles to find even after you’ve taken on the main boss. Whether you want health upgrades, stamina upgrades, orbs or even more pesos and silver coins to spend, they are all out there. This makes it very easy to get distracted from the path to glory. Along with the main missions are a couple of side missions to pick up items for dead and living recipients but I didn’t think they were interesting enough to go out of my way for.
What does it offer for those whose friends have it? Apart from a leaderboard that shows game completion times there’s absolutely nothing online. Offline though go grab a second controller for couch co-op throughout the entire story with Player 2 taking control of the mysterious luchador that gave you all this power, Tostada. Although it’s an awesome idea I’d have loved to be able to play co-op online too as it would add a tonne of value.
I grew into liking Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition to the point where I wanted more, though I felt there’s still plenty of areas surrounding the small Mexican village to explore after the final boss. It’s a really clever action platformer with more features than similar games to keep the fighting fresher. Add the funny dialogue and the problem solving, there isn’t much I can fault. If it had online co-op I could happily give this top marks, however there is a bit of sameness in the locations that isn’t too pretty on the eye. As a current Games with Gold freebie for Xbox One surely it’s a no brainer or as the Mexican’s wrestlers say, ORALE! (Hell yes) Even for the normal price it’s worth picking up.