Have you ever had a dream where you could put on a mask that granted you strength? How about one that summoned the will to overcome anything in your path for a certain goal? Perhaps one to save a loved one? Or maybe even to save the world? Guacamelee! does just that, but does this luchador laden trip put this into the hall of fame, or should it unlace its boots and hang up its mask?
Guacamelee! has you slide into the mask of the role of Juan. Juan is a down on his luck kinda guy, but one sunny day changes his life. As Juan runs around town helping the fellow people of his village, he’s asked to help out at El Presidente’s mansion – who, if you couldn’t guess, is the president. He takes the offer in no time, on account that he is childhood friends with El Presidente’s daughter and also long time lovers. Unfortunately, Juan doesn’t have the courage to tell her his true feelings and on his way to the mansion something horrible happens: the mansion is attacked. In the ensuing terror El Presidente’s daughter is kidnapped by an evil skeleton named Carlos and his gang. Before Juan can do anything, he is killed by Carlos and reawakes in the world of the dead.
While there, Juan ends up stumbling upon a statue with a magical luchador mask that only a worthy warrior could put on. When Juan places it on his head he becomes the hero that’s always been hidden inside. Now, in a plot that could only come from a fantastical Mexican b-movie, Juan must undertake this magical adventure that will have him traveling between the “Living” and the “Dead” to save the love of his life and the world that they love so dearly.
Guacamelee! is a side-scrolling adventure game that takes a fair few tasteful cues from fan-favorites Super Metroid and Castlevania. It also takes place in and around Juan’s village, letting you move reasonably freely around so you can explore and back-track through the land. It’s nice because you never feel restricted at any time and there are plenty hidden treasures and other rewards to find. The only off-limit areas are story related sections blocked off until you gain certain abilities to progress. You’re also always able to travel back to any location previously explored to search for hidden heart pieces or skull pieces to flesh out your health or boost your special moves.
Combat starts off relatively simplistic, but as soon as you begin to unlock new super moves – and the enemies start to change to develop certain “challenges” to break their defence – that’s when you realize just how deep combat truly is. There are also plenty of easter eggs to be found and some pay homage while also serving a purpose. As you progress you’ll stumble across statues that strike an extreme resemblance to the Chozo statues found in the Metroid series. Breaking these causes a talking goat to appear, granting you new abilities for you vandalism.
Co-op is a nice addition, but I had a better time playing alone instead. The art style also looks pretty darn good on the PlayStation 3, but it’s on the Vita where this game truly stands out and feels just at home in between your hands. Gaucamelee! is most definitely a fun game packed with a lot of laughs and rather excellent platforming. Once you start to travel between worlds it adds so much depth and takes gameplay to a whole other level. It may not take too long to finish, but exploring every area and completing all the side quests add a lot more time to that experience – especially for a relatively inexpensive downloadable gem. Gaucamelee! is a gem that everyone really needs to try out and I certainly hope to see a lot more from Drinkbox Studios in the future.
Audio/Visual – 4.5/5: This game has a great soundtrack that really fits into the core of the game, not once did I find myself getting tired of it and the art style is just impressive.
Gameplay – 5/5: Combat starts off a little weak but as soon as you start getting farther in the game it really picks up and feels rewarding and also includes some of the best platforming I’ve ever played.
Innovation – 4.5/5: Drinkbox Studios took a bland/basic story and made it magical and worth revisiting several times.
Value – 4.5/5: For only $15 bucks and you get it for ps3 and Vita, what more do I have to say?
- Nate B reviewed Guacamelee! on PS3 and PS Vita (Screens from PS Vita) -