In recent years, it’s been quite difficult to find a decent wrestling themed game on Xbox One, with the WWE 2K series failing to deliver the necessary quality and the acclaimed Fire Pro Wrestling World staying exclusive to PlayStation. If you’re willing to compromise a little though, there is a platformer/brawler that came out on multiple platforms in 2014 and it oozes a strong lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) vibe. So let’s take a look back at DrinkBox Studios’ Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition and its legacy since release to see whether it’s a viable alternative to the purest of wrestling games.
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition – which will be known from this point on as Guacamelee! STCE – launched on 2nd July, 2014 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U and Xbox 360. Having already seen a standard version release to a damn good reception on PlayStation 3, PS Vita and PC in the previous year, hype was growing rapidly for the special edition, which included an expanded story, a new lava-filled location, a new boss, some fresh abilities, and more. The icing on the cake saw it arrive as part of the Games With Gold scheme, ensuring Xbox Live Gold subscribers didn’t have to pay a penny to own it on Xbox One. Everything appeared to be in place to cement Guacamelee! STCE as a fan-favourite for the gaming masses, right?
Absolutely, and even now I have conversations with people who fondly remember the great solo and co-op experiences they had. It could’ve been a very different outcome for me though; mainly due to the fact that I try to avoid the Metroidvania style platformers of the world. Yep, Guacamelee! STCE went down the route of employing the concept of a non-linear 2D world that opened up further passageways as you garnered additional abilities, so there’s a potential to arrive at areas you simply won’t be geared up for. Fortunately the other aspects of the game masked this drawback, with the initial story and the subsequent brawling delivering everything I could ask for.
Everyone loves the tale of an ‘underdog’ and being a lowly farmer, Juan Aguacate, who meets an abrupt end trying to save a woman he’s very fond of, is almost the epitome of the term – after all, there’s little chance of him succeeding when he’s dead. It’s his lucky day though, when the mysterious Tostada presents him with a magical mask that resurrects farmer Juan and transforms him into a powerful luchador to get revenge on the evil skeleton known as Carlos Calaca. The classic vengeance story ensues, with Juan having to fight his way through sub-bosses and a load of lesser enemies to reach his goal.
As a wrestling fan, I love the arsenal of moves at your disposal as it’s varied enough to include classics like the suplex, the big boot and even the piledriver – like The Undertaker does – as well as introducing some fancier manoeuvres with more pizzazz such as the frog slam and a super uppercut. There’s even the option to go into ‘INTENSO’ mode, which is basically Juan becoming a kind of Super Saiyan, making him extra powerful and fast for a short while. The variety of attacks and enemies really complement each other, to the point where there is seldom a boring battle as you’re beating up a gauntlet of foes.
In regards the platforming, and well even that remains fresh as it doesn’t only rely on a simple jump here and there. Instead it’s a mixture of timing, excellent use of abilities and transition between the land of the living and the dead. You see, obstacles may be in your way in one realm, but not in the other, so it’s all about assessing the lay of the land. By no means will you expect to breeze through the areas, however it’s never impossible and when you manage to overcome such a problem, the rewarding feeling is well worth the effort.
To cap off the experience is the presence of some truly brilliant boss-like enemies who have been wonderfully designed and help the narrative to unfold piece by piece. The general aura of Guacamelee! STCE is quite wacky, therefore it’s no surprise that the characters follow suit and the encounters can actually be quite humorous, which really adds an extra layer to proceedings. And by the end of it, it entices you to play more and the desire to search every nook and cranny of an area becomes engrained in your soul.
Needless to say, Guacamelee! STCE holds a special place in my gaming library due to its lucha libre theme and for being a thoroughly enjoyable platformer/brawler hybrid. But that’s not the end of Juan’s story, because he’s donning the mask once again in Guacamelee! 2, which released for Xbox One on 18th January of this year and is currently available via Xbox Game Pass. It’s down to you to make the most of his wrestling move repertoire to save the Mexiverse from a challenging new threat. Given that it holds an 85 rating on Metacritic, I think you can surmise that it’s worth checking out if you’ve played the first title – you won’t be disappointed.
What are your memories of Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition? Did it fill the gap left by the more conventional wrestling games or are platformers not your thing regardless of the theme? Would you like to see another instalment coming from DrinkBox Studios? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts for all to see!