If you’re into sprawling adventures in the style of METROID then I can’t recommend a more suited game to scratch this particular itch. Juicebox Studios have crafted a superb title with solid combat and platforming all wrapped up in a thick sauce of style.
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One(Reviewed)
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
In case you haven’t been paying attention to the Games with Gold program on Xbox then you might as well live on the moon – especially with this month’s offering of Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve waited this long to check out Drinkbox’s Metroid lovesong by way of Mexican wrestling but good god have they crafted a solid and enjoyable title.
I ended up playing through from start to finish nonstop and have been sussing out all the secrets while having an absolute blast.
Guacamelee! STCE firmly plants its side-scrolling, power-up collecting, platforming roots in beloved titles such as the aforementioned Metroid and Castlevania Symphony of the Night. Gameplay primarily tasks you with navigating through connected levels gaining new moves, gathering collectibles, and besting bosses. The Super Turbo portion of the title denotes additional content expanding upon last year’s release. Included with this are a few new areas and unlockable costumes.
A simple narrative of rescuing El Presidente’s Daughter drives heroes, Juan and Tostada, on a mission to thwart the vile Carlos Calaca from sacrificing her and throwing the world into darkness. After granted power from an enchanted luchadore mask, Juan gains fabulous wrestling powers to assist his journey. Combat consists of weakening enemies with simple punches and kicks setting them up for devastating grapple and throwing attacks. Juan is swift to act with punchy responsiveness and a fairly deep set list of special moves such as uppercuts and divebombs. The devs gifted players with a real sense of combat control such that you rarely feel overwhelmed. At least until very late in the game in which a few systems become a bit too much to manage.
For instance, late game combat settles into a sort of intense roshambo of breaking color-coded, shielded enemies with the appropriate color-coded special move. Furthermore, there is a duel level aspect as some enemies exist in an alternate dimension that you must navigate between with a button press. During heated battles, all of this gets a bit too involved leading to many, many frustrating deaths. Fortunately, pummeling skeletons and piledriving them into a mass of foes never gets tired and overall the combat feels fluid and enjoyable.
Rounding out gameplay are some truly devious platforming sections. The devs came up with more than a few tricky layouts that will test ever fiber in your body to master. Many of these sections create a wonder finger ballet of efficient and precise button presses. The segments never feel completely unwelcome and really show off the creativity of the designers. Some of the best platforming I’ve seen since Super Meat Boy can be found within the additional content of the Devil’s tower trials. It says a lot when you’re willing to stay up into the wee hours of the night practically beating your head against a wall attempting – and finally besting – some of the brutally dastardly platforming arenas. After mastering these levels, my only regret (besides my now fucked sleep cycle) is that I want more.
Guacamelee!‘s aesthetics are painted with a vivid palette emblazoned upon the screen. Everything is presented in a lovely and crisp hand-drawn like quality. Lively animations bring some life to the characters and everything have really great designs. The Día de los Muertos theme washes over levels with a rich flavoring that casts a striking and unique look. As with all Metroid-vania styled games, you’ll have to traverse back and forth opening newer areas and finding secrets with your upgraded powers. Fortunately, the gorgeously rendered settings always provide a great helping of eyecandy.
The additional content doesn’t stand out obnoxiously and, though I never played the first iteration, never seems out of place. The unlockable costumes have game-impacting bonuses and penalties if you’re looking for extra challenge. However, the Devil’s tower challenge thing presents the toughest of the tough. If you’re aiming to 100 percent this game, I’d invest some extra towels to wipe down the sweat from your brow. Seriously. These are no-joke challenges that can take a few hours to master.
If you’re into sprawling adventures in the style of Metroid then I can’t recommend a more suited tile to scratch this particular itch. Drinkbox Studios have crafted a superb title with solid combat and platforming all wrapped up in a thick sauce of style. Xbox One users have absolutely no reason to pass as it’s currently free this month, but PS4, Wii U, and PC users would do well to check out Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition now.