Para El Presidente!
Back when Guacamelee originally released for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, no one expected such a wildly inventive title to use Metroid-esque gameplay in a small Mexican village, but Drinkbox Studios has never shied away from original ideas and responsive, tight gameplay. That’s even truer now that the studio has re-released Guacamelee under the Super Turbo Championship Edition banner for next-gen consoles.
Bringing Guacamelee to other platforms seemed like it was always in the works, but there’s enough new to revisit the game in its entirety, and I’d be a fool to claim it gets any less entertaining and varied the second time around. You’ll still help Juan beat up day-of-the-dead enemies, explore cavernous temples, unlock new abilities, and generally put the smackdown on everything in sight, including Choozo statues that offer new superpowers like the Rooster Uppercut. When all is said and done, no gamer should go without Guacamelee for their chips… er, memory cards or hard drives... or whatever.
Most of my previous review holds true here. You’ll frequently navigate through parts of Guacamelee’s map and notice where colored blocks hide secret passages or new temples to explore, but it’s not until you unlock a specific power or defeat a specific boss that you’ll be able to roam as free as you like. Juan and his female Luchador(a?) companion Tostada can toss enemies left and right, but learning combos winds up being far more satisfying, especially as encounters get more and more complex and crowded.
As I wrote in our review of the original (based on the PlayStation Vita version), "this bouncing-ball style of combat becomes furiously addicting in a very short amount of time. Your combo counter will soar quite early, but as new abilities and new enemy types come into the fold, skill becomes a big player. You can always rely on throws, but Guacamelee makes flashy moves and combos extremely rewarding." Players can dodge with the right stick both in the air and on the ground, but careful awareness demands finesse both in knowing when to strike, when to retreat, and when to reposition yourself.
Even with scores of in-game references to other fan-favorites—Casa Crashers, anyone?—Guacamelee’s personality burns bright, though some of it has faded into the background during my second trip through the game. Not unlike Drinkbox’s previous title, Mutant Blobs Attack, you can finish Guacamelee in one sitting if you’re dedicated. From my previous review:
Your enemies will lament their station or… slur their words because they’re drunk. Guacamelee was a Vita game I couldn’t put down. I finished it in one sitting. And that’s my only problem with the game. It’s a little short, but it’s so tasty it’ll be easy to play again. Obviously seeking out every single hidden heart piece will extend your play time, but I wanted more!
The Super Turbo Championship Edition (which feels like less of a mouthful when compared to the title of Dead Rising 3’s DLC) features an expanded story and all of the downloadable content from the first game. That means you’ll be able to explore new areas like the Canal of Flowers, which provides a very lengthy brawl on a boat with opportunities for ring-outs, and face off against a new boss, the Trio of Death. Furthermore, encounters with bosses and hordes of skeletons have gotten a lot easier thanks to the new Intenso meter that charges up with every strike, and then dishes out extra damage and faster grapple opportunities.
While I’m not increasing Guacamelee’s score with this review, it is easily one of the best next-gen games you can own right now, especially considering the price. I know some reviewers don’t take that into consideration, but with persistent cooperative play and plenty of exploration, genuinely fun combat, and gorgeous 1080p graphics, it’s hard to find a better value for your digital currency of choice.
Code provided by publisher. Review based on PS4 version. Also available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Wii U.