A Juan Story.
I have been following the Humble Bundle bundles for well over a year now, and Humble Bundle 11 was no exception! There were many great games that were a part of it, such as Dust: An Elysian Tail and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. But one game caught my eye more than the others, and that game is…
GUACAMELEE!!! (Gold Edition)
I’ve heard about the game before, mainly from seeing that it was filled with dozens of shout outs to other video games, but I had no idea what to expect heading in. The game is a fantastic combination of fighter and platformer, set in Mexican themed world! Well… technically two Mexican themed world, but we’ll get to that later!
You start the game off as Juan Aquacate, a local farmer and resident of the living world, who heads into town to take part of the celebration. And, of course, as he heads to meet the love of his life, El Presidente’s daughter, disaster strikes. She is kidnapped by the evil Carlos Calaca and his fiery henchman (one of which is literally on fire).
And then Juan dies.
The end. Review over.
After his untimely death, Juan appears in the dead world, the second of the magical Mexican worlds. Owwie. He walks around and meets Tostada, a female luchador who delivers him a mask. Not just any mask however… a mask that turns him into…
A LIVING LUCHADOR!!! Luchadors are revered in the world of Gucamelee, and as soon as Juan put on that mask, he became as revered as El Presidente himself!
Horray for life!
From that point on, you fight for life in this Metroid-vania style game. As you progress, you’ll find new abilities hidden in Choozo statues, as opposed to Chozo statues from the Metroid series. In fact… they look pretty much identical. The game is very good at teaching you how to use the abilities and when, usually by putting you into a situation that you can only escape by using your new ability. There are different colored blocks that you can only break through using certain abilities, and that is great for backtracking. Say I see a block that is yellow, but I can only break through red and green. Damn! I can’t do anything. Not until I learn how to break it that is. I head back, and I find new areas, more collectables, and even possibly a secret orb (ooohh mysterious). It’s the kind of backtracking that I love to see in a video game, and Guacamelee does it exceptionally well.
There are puzzles in almost every area that don’t start off too hard, but can escalate steadily as you progress through the game. You wall jump, break through those blocks, even run up walls to new places. At one point of the game, you learn the ability to freely travel between the lands of the living and the dead. The puzzles can get really intuitive from that point on. There are platforms and walls that you can only see in one of the worlds, so it’s very often that you switch back and forth very often to progress. Some of the hardest puzzles in the games involve finding those mysterious orbs, and they are no walk in the park.
The enemies can be quite ferocious as well, from walking skeletons to cactuses that throw grenades at you. There are tons of enemies to fight, all with their own fighting techniques. Some skeletons are quick, others throw bones. Some are gigantic and take many punches to kill, others are killed in a hit or two! Since you can travel between both worlds, you’ll find enemies in both of them. The downside is that you can get hit by an enemy in one world, even if you’re in the other. It forces you to travel between the two to fight all of your foes. As you learn new abilities, you also encounter enemies with shields that can only be broken using those specific abilities. Until you remove that shield, they will receive no damage. It’s easy when you’re fighting the weaker enemies, but when you start fighting bigger fellows… have fun!
Another great component of the game is the co-op! Fellow writer and roommate Jay Petrequin, helped try out this mode, and let’s say it was… interesting! It wasn’t hard, but try fighting a screen full of enemies when both players have control over changing between both the living world and the dead world. It’s our instinct to switch worlds to defeat the enemy in it, but when both players hit it at the same time, it doesn’t get easy. Yet, it’s easier to rack up combos and kill enemies.
One of the two other great aspects of this game is the music! Guacamelee has a fantastic soundtrack, and it never fails to entertain the user. Most songs are Mexican themed, with mariachi bands and what not. Then, there are the outstanding visuals. It’s very cartoony, and has its own special feel to it. Many of the backgrounds and areas of the game feel as if they were hand-drawn, and it handles changing between two areas very well. One place that looks has trees and buildings in the background in say the living world, can look completely different, yet still just as beautiful in the dead world.
My other favorite thing is the ability to customize your character by downloading fan-made skins from the Steam Workshop. I played most of the game as the Wii Fit trainer, and honestly, that made it a lot of fun! There are tons of skins to choose from, such as Johnny Bravo, Catwoman and even… Twilight Sparkle… *shudder*
All of this and more made Guacamelee an unforgettable experience, one that I will visit again very soon. There are more challenges to complete, and a hard mode to finish. Thank you Drinkbox Studios for creating a great game, and I hope to see more in the future!
Final Verdict: 5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed) PlayStation 3, Vita ; Publisher: Drinkbox Studios ; Developer: Drinkbox Studios ; Players: 1-2 ; Released: April 9, 2013 ; ESRB: T for Teen
This review was based on a retail copy Guacamelee purchased by Hey Poor Player.