Probably the best thing we can say about Guazu: The Rescue is that it taught us what a Guará Wolf was. Second best is that we found its main character to be adorable, if lacking a few frames of animation. Third best? Honestly, we struggle to think of more than two positive things to say about Guazu: The Rescue. It’s going to be one of those reviews.
Guazu: The Rescue is a 2D platformer that has a Sonic the Hedgehog storyline but with all of the interesting bits cut out. Your animal friends are poached and locked in crates, and you have to get them back. Luckily, you are a plucky Guará Wolf (see, putting the information to use already!) who knows their way around a double-jump, so you have everything you need to get them back.
Which means twenty levels, each small enough that you could fit them in your pocket. Within them are three keys, and collecting all three allows you to unlock the crate at the end of the level. There are nine-or-so coins to find, too, but they’re only useful for purchasing cosmetics for your wee wolf, and don’t factor into achievements.
What’s stopping you? Not much really. There are about five or six enemies, but they only come in three categories: the walking enemy (slime, spider), the floating enemy (bee) and the floating enemy that will hunt you down if you get close (bat). Only the bat offers any kind of challenge. Other than enemies, you have moving platforms, platforms that crumble, platforms that fall on you, spike cannons and spike traps. Two levels are in the dark, and two have a moving spike-wall, to try to mete out some urgency. Ta-da, we have just comprehensively catalogued Guazu: The Rescue!
Anybody would struggle to create an interesting game from those limited tidbits, and so it is with Guazu: The Rescue. It is as thin as tracing paper. It manages to be the holy trinity of boring, short and easy, before disappearing in a puff of apathy into the night.
Guazu: The Rescue is boring because it can’t find a single idea of note. You move, you jump, you collect. Pick any Mario game and it will have more ideas in a single level than Guazu: The Rescue does in twenty. A couple of levels ask you to go left and right. One even makes you go up.
It’s short because twenty levels at a couple of minutes each doesn’t amount to much at all. There might have been opportunities for replayability, but the achievements are purely for completing a level, not what you gather from them, and the coins apologetically offer you cosmetics that you couldn’t hope to want. Maybe there is a ‘third best thing’ about Guazu: The Rescue: it offers you 1000G for thirty minutes of your time.
But what is most surprising is the ease of completion. Most small dev teams would obfuscate their lack of content with a punishing difficulty, but Guazu: The Rescue is almost completely benign. It’s a red carpet all the way to the end, and you’re unlikely to die more than a handful of times. There’s an argument that it’s perfect kid fodder, then, and there’s a wee bit of truth to that. Outside of the levels with spiked walls closing in, there’s nothing here that would panic a six-year old, say.
But there’s definitely room for them to be frustrated. Guazu: The Rescue is extremely rough to play, and it can often feel like playing a platformer’s tutorial level with a ball and chain clamped around your foot. The Guará Wolf is slow (yet it can travel up to 47 miles per hour in the wild!), but more damaging is the jump latency, which is a drag. Couple that with some of the most egregious collision detection we’ve come across in recent years, and you get that ball and chain we were talking about. One positive is that the levels are so easy, so sparse, that you can easily give enemies a wide berth and not be overly punished. But is that really what you want from a game?
And then there’s the details, because there are so many little devils running about in them. When Guazu jumps, he does a Sonic-like spinny ball effect, which feels like an attack – but Guazu can’t attack. So you look powerful, but are as fragile as they come. You can get crushed under platforms and die – even platforms that are just on a traditional up-and-down path. It’s particularly ‘funny’ when you’re under a crumbling platform that’s taken an age to fall down. Virtually every decision that’s made in Guazu: The Rescue is a dubious one.
Guazu: The Rescue is certainly cute. It might be enough for an undiscerning youngster, and it’s barely thirty minutes for some of the easiest Gamerscore around. But we are stretching ourselves here: make no mistake, this glorified student project is more guano than Guazu.
If Guazu: The Rescue was one of those £0.89 games that rocks onto the Xbox Store every so often, we would have argued against buying it. But Guazu: The Rescue comes in at a frankly astonishing £7.09. For thirty minutes of the drabbest, most lifeless levels, it’s not exactly an all-you-can-eat platforming buffet. It’s barely even a single canapé.
You can buy Guazu: The Rescue from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S