Guacamelee!: Super Turbo Championship Edition Review (Wii U eShop)

There are a lot of Metroidvanias out there nowadays and you’d think with so much representation as of late, it’d be hard for developers to create something that’s holistically fresh and different from what everybody else is doing. Then there’s stuff like Guacamelee, a sprawling Mexican-themed platforming adventure that celebrates all the fundamentals of its genre while standing tall as its own bad self–and that’s pretty bueno.

Players enter the ring as the chosen Juan, a farmer-turned-luchador living la vida loca. After the kidnapping of El Presidente’s Daughter, our hero must pummel his way through hordes of undead baddies and save the day. Yes, the narrative sounds familiar, but Guacamelee ultimately weaves a downright goofy tale littered with ham-fisted puns, dated memes, chickens, and oh so many video game references. The game’s silliness can be a bit groanworthy at times, but then again the jokes are supposed to be completely exasperating. Regardless, you’ll certainly appreciate Guacamelee if you enjoy shamelessly stupid humor, not that there’s nothing wrong with that.

Even if dumb wordplay isn’t your thing, it’s pretty hard to find fault with the superb presentation here. I mean, just look at it. Guacamelee‘s rich and vivid atmosphere separates it from all the other blasé gothic/medieval/sci-fi adventure titles plaguing today’s market. The vibrant environments, the funky Latin beats, the various aesthetic allusions–DrinkBox Studios stumbled upon a mighty fine combination of ingredients with their delectable Mexican-inspired concoction, which is a bit surprising considering they’re based in snowy Toronto. They nailed it though, so more power to ’em.

While most Metroidvanias’ combat feel more akin to a run-and-gun or hack-and-slash, Guacamelee is neither: it’s a fighter. Oh man, is it a fighter. Juan essentially controls like a long lost character from Street Fighter II, complete with a satisfying moveset of punches, kicks, uppercuts, aerials, and throws, all of which can be combo’d into one another in some way, shape, or form. There’s even the humble abode of the Combo Chicken in the main hub where players can practice some of the game’s trickier inputs. Juan’s offensive mix-up also doubles as means of accessing previously sealed off areas, which means exploration and combat are cleverly integrated into one another.

Among Guacamelee‘s central mechanics is dimension swapping between the world of the living and the dead. This makes for some engaging enemy encounters as well as a few rigorous platforming segments since being tethered to one dimension means Juan won’t be able to interact with objects of the opposite. It functions very similarly to the 2D-to-3D shifting in Super Paper Mario and–much like said Wii title–flipping between both dimensions is an absolute must when sleuthing for certain area-connecting routes, not to mention necessary when facing shadowy figures mano a mano. The intrigue spurred by the two traversable worlds also encourages players to explore which is then further reinforced by the prospect of discovering upgrades and/or carefully hidden secrets.

This other half of Guacamelee–the exploration half–can be quite engrossing and is laced with modern niceties to make the experience reasonably streamlined and approachable for wider audiences. For example, when you fall into hazardous goo or an endless abyss, the game doesn’t scold you by chipping away at your health or rerouting you back to the last checkpoint. Nope, it simply places you right back where you last stood in a gesture that says, “hey, we all make mistakes, muchacho–just try again. Uno más.” Don’t get me wrong, Guacamelee doesn’t baby the player (not at all), it just removes all the clunky inhibitors of older titles because the game wants you to experience everything it has to offer.

In terms of sheer content, Guacamelee!: Super Turbo Championship Edition is definitely the definitive version to pick up. There’s a wealth of new areas like the lush Canal of Flowers incorporated into the main game as well as additional challenges and a formidable three-headed boss. Previously DLC-only costumes for Juan have been included as well, which are all pretty great (hola, giant chicken suit and futbol attire), each with unique attributes like regenerating health at the cost of slow-recovering stamina, etc. The Wii U version also has the benefit of the GamePad that acts as a nifty navigator complete with a detailed map and objective reminder to ensure players won’t ever veer too far off track. Want a two-player local co-op mode? Well then, you got it–the implementation is a little pedestrian, but it’s also here. All these generous additions on top of what was already a stellar base formula adds up to 8-10+ hours of content–a very pleasant and succinct amount that never overstays its welcome.

After years of ignoring Metroidvanias completely, I’ve been frantically trying to catch up on the genre after Super Metroid tickled my cynical heart in all the right ways. Doing so is a bit difficult since these games are a dime a dozen nowadays, but Guacamelee is not one to be missed. It’s very much an action adventure with a strong, strong emphasis on the action and I can’t say it disappoints. Nuanced in ways I would have never expected, Guacamelee continued to impress me with its infectious combat and accessible game design that never compromises difficulty. Throw in a bunch of new content and an outrageous title absent from the original release and you’ve got yourself a real winner.

 

Guacamelee!: Super Turbo Championship Edition Review (Wii U eShop)
Gameplay9.4
Presentation9.2
Replay Value8.9
Morph Ball = Chicken10
Prollos
  • Mechanically sound; super fun
  • Inspired and vibrant setting
  • Shameless humor
Contigos
  • Really shameless humor?
9Overall Score
Share this post:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someoneShare on StumbleUponDigg this

About The Author

Former Co-Editor

Trace Wysaske lives somewhere in Washington, and when he isn't compulsively hunting Green Stars or felling the Lagiacrus, he's writing about everything from forlorn Japanese teachers to well-mannered crows. He still needs to play Ghost Trick.