Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition: Review

in April 2013 a rather brilliant little indie game landed on the PlayStation 3 and Vita. It was Guacamelee!, the third outing from Torontonian studio Drinkbox (previously responsible for the Tales from Space series), and it was a skull-splitting suplex of success. Wrapping a Mexican wrestling flavoured tortilla around a centre of meaty Metroidvania goodness, it was arguably the Vita’s best game of the year and the best digital title on the PS3.

After no frills ports to the PC last August followed by Linux and OS X earlier this year, it has finally made its way to the rest of the gaming world in the form of Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition and in addition to being a roaring elbow to the ribs of Capcom over the way it pimps out the Street Fighter series, the subtitle also gives a fitting indication of what this top to bottom upgrade entails.

To put it in wrestling terms, this is the equivalent of Matt Hardy V1 everything you loved about the original but taken to the extreme, with the volume and contrast cranked right up to the max. Not to mention all the DLC from the original release, which is now included as standard (being available as unlockables and upgrades). At the risk of mixing our wrestling metaphors even more, this is the total package.

If you missed Guacamelee! the first time round, you are Juan an agave farmer in a small Mexican village. Like all agave farmers you grew up wanting to be a luchador, and to take your childhood sweetheart (who happens to be El Presidente’s daughter) for a ride on Space Mountain, but fate was cruel and things never turned out that way… until now.

A demon charro called Carlos Calaca returns from the land of the dead with his skeletal army to attack the village, kidnap your one true love and send you to an early grave. But upon arriving in the land of the dead you are given a magical luchador mask that bestows you with great powers and the means by which to vanquish Carlos and get back your girl through the medium of combat heavy, side scrolling and nonlinear action platforming.

While the slick Metroidvania Style exploration is the backbone of the experience, obviously a game that’s decked out in lucha libre garb needs to have a good combat system and Guacamelee! packs one heck of a punch, kick, piledriver and suplex. On the surface it seems a bit simple; you have a few basic moves and, by stabbing the attack button a few times, you can create combos. But it’s not until you start progressing through the game and unlocking new abilities that things start coming into their own.

From obtaining platform staples like wall and double jumps to fighting focused skills like dashing punches and ground slams, the abilities will transform you from a lumbering lummox to a leaping luchador when it comes to battling enemies. and the way in which you chain your combos and switch between regular attacks, specials, air juggles and area of effect moves gives the combat a distinctly Viewtiful Joe feel.

There’s also the intenso meter that comes into play later on, which fills up as you rack up combos and enables you to go ‘el fuego’ and kick some serious ass and it’s an ability that you can turn on or off at will, which gives an added dimension to combat. Speaking of dimensions, you’ll often face screenfuls of enemies but some will only be shadows that you can’t do any damage to. This harks back to what becomes one of Guacamelee!’score mechanics: the divide between the land of the living and the land of the dead.

until you unlock the ability to jump between them at will, you’ll be at the mercy of portals that appear dotted around the game world. activating one will keep you in the same level but with different properties; previously “invisible” walls will now become solid, once uncrossable chasms will have platforms between them, and enemies who were previously shadows impervious to pain are now fair game for a beatdown.

it all adds up to an incredibly rich action platformer with deceptively deep combat elements. Throw in all new areas, brand new enemies and all the previously available dlc levels and costumes, not to mention the ability to turn into a chicken, and this is the best platformer on next gen consoles.


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