We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
“The following is a contributor post by the ABXY Mage.”
If there were, for some weird reason, only one good thing to say about the indie scene in video games, my vote would go to that thing being that the indie scene is much more embracing of the classic styles and genres of gaming yore than the AAA arena. That means that those of us who were lucky enough to remember playing the NES, SNES, and Genesis/Mega Drive, when they were still new, are finally getting new games that pay proper homage to those wonderful times.
Of course, making a modern game with close ties to classic gaming can be a dangerous and difficult combination. So, when a game does it right, it can really be a spectacular occasion. This, the ultimate version of the third game from DrinkBox Studios, is a perfect example of one of those occasions.
So, squeeze into your tights, lace up your boots, and snap on your luchador mask. It’s Guacamelee! Super Tuber Championship Edition!
POW! CRUNCH! SLAM! CRASH! KABOOOOOOM!
Just outside the town of Pueblucho, an agave farmer and tequila maker is awakened by a knock at his door. When he opens it, Juan is greeted by the village monk. The Dia de los Muertos festival is fast-approaching, and the monk needs help at the church. He runs ahead to wait, leaving you, as the agave farmer, Juan, to make your way through the small village and to the church.
After arriving at the church, you are given your task: to break some barrels. Of course, it’s very easy, but it teaches you to attack, and that barrels hold both coins and health. When you’ve finished, there is a surprise visitor to the church: the beautiful, El Presidente’s Daughter, Juan’s childhood friend and current love interest. After some flimsy story about needing you to help her with some chairs back at her place, she suggests you take her to the festival. As Fray, the monk, points out, this is your chance!
After she leaves the church, the monk–who clearly set up this chance encounter–expresses his excitement over the possible romance and even compares it to his telenovelas.
As The Dia de los Muertos festival draws even closer, Juan departs for the La Mansion del Presidente. However, as he approaches the edge of town, there is a thunderous and fiery explosion. Rubble crashes at your feet as a villager informs you that the mansion is on fire.
Upon entering the mansion, Juan finds the entire place engulfed in flames. At the end of a long corridor, you find El Presidente’s Daughter… thrown over the shoulder of a tall and slender skeleton with a lasso.
After taunting you, his henchmen arrive; a flame-headed gunslinger and a beautiful woman with a sharp tongue. Flame Face wants to melt your eyes, but the skeleton doesn’t care to waste the time. He introduces himself as the great Carlos Calaca, the ruler of the dead world, once forgotten by the world of the living. He taunts Juan for not being a luchador (a lucha libre wrestler) and with a clenching of his fist, he kills you.
Fade to black.
When he wakes, Juan finds himself in a sort of bizarro world with the once burning mansion now flooded. This is the world of the dead. Your love, and Carlos Calaca, are nowhere to be found.
Leaving the mansion and reentering the town of Pueblucho, you find the village is the same as before, but different. One obvious difference is the giant, stone statue of a luchador in the center of town. Whereas before it was just a regular statue, the mask now glows as if imbued with some kind of magical power. As you approach, a female luchador appears from our of nowhere.
Tostada, Guardian of The Mask, explains that The Mask has revealed itself to you because you have something to do with the coming events involving Calaca. If Juan chooses to put The Mask on, it will give him the power to return to the world of the living; his only chance to save El Presidente’s Daughter.
Obviously, Juan puts the mask on and transforms into a mighty luchador, and THIS is the where the true Guacamelee! starts. Can you defeat Carlos Calaca and his evil plan to merge the worlds of the living and the dead? Can you become the hero that The Mask thinks Juan to be? Can you rescue the woman you love and live happily ever after?
The 8-Bit Review
Guacamelee! uses a very interesting and explosive visual style that is influenced by both traditional Mexican folklore as well as lucha libre wrestling. These influences can be seen in the characters, enemies, and even the landscapes.
Apparently, the game was actually the animator’s idea, pitching the story of brawling luchadors in a Mexico-inspired world around the DrinkBox offices. So, it’s no wonder the game looks so beautiful and unique. It almost has a comic book, old arcade visual style to it, but with modern capabilities and palettes.
Guacamelee! uses a wide variety of colors, with certain colors assigned to either the living or dead worlds. Color also plays an important part in the game in both exploration and fighting. The various power-up moves that you learn throughout the game are all attached to a color. When you see blocks or obstacles of a certain color, you use the corresponding power-up to blast through it. Additionally, some enemies have shields that are also the various colors of the different moves. This forces you to use all of your abilities to succeed in your many enemy encounters, as well as in boss battles.
The game includes a variety of costumes for the player characters, which should come as no surprise in a game about luchadors, which not only add flavor to your look, but they also provide various buffs that can add or take away from various stats. You should play this game.
The music is unlike anything you’ve heard in a video game before while being exactly what you want out of the music for this video game. A unique mix of traditional Mexican musics and modern, electronic, techno-type dance music. Drum kits and mariachi. Flamenco and synthesizers. It’s suspenseful and action-packed when it needs to be and cheerful and sunny when it doesn’t. Each song also has a slightly varied version that plays when you’re in the world of the dead.
Most of the game’s sound effects will take you back to classic arcade sounds: fiery explosions, powerful punches, swooshing movements, crunching slams, rattling bones, crumbling stone, and more. Just like with the visuals, there is never a dull moment with the audio of this game. Guacamelee! also avoids many of the voice acting pitfalls by having no voice acting. You should play this game.
Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with it. It moves at a great pace with minimal load times, the controls are exactly how they should be, and the special moves are easy enough to pull off as needed, even in combination. Guacamelee! mixes the simplistic fighting of a beat ’em up with the platforming and powering-up of a metroidvania, and it does so with helpful–and sometimes comical–tutorials along the way. While pulling off combos can certainly be the most difficult part of the game, they are only helpful in completing certain additional challenges, and as you might hope to expect, they are the kind of things that are almost gone from gaming: easy to learn, but tough to truly master.
As you defeat enemies, find treasure chests, and destroy barrels, you collect coins which you use to upgrade various stats, buy additional abilities, and purchase the different costumes. These costumes have different effects that can increase or decrease certain attributes which can add, or intentionally detract, from a player’s specific style. You should play this game.
While the well of metroidvania games may not be nearly as dry as I would like it to be, I still haven’t played them all. However, of the ones I have played, Guacamelee! is easily the most accessible. Some gamers might even find the tutorials and hints a little too plentiful for their liking. However, there are numerous additional areas and challenges to make up for that to please the more advanced gamers. Pulling off combos and completing some of the bonus challenges are definitely the most challenging aspects of the game in terms of ease of play, but they’re also not essential to completing the game. You should play this game.
The challenge of Guacamelee! depends on the kind of gamer you are. It offers two difficulty settings, normal and hard, with hard only being unlocked after the completion of normal. With all the helpful hints, the sometimes overly-revealing map, and color coordination, the main story of the game on normal could possibly be a little too easy for some gamers.
However, finding all the secrets, and obtaining the “true” ending, can add much more challenge to the game. Throw in the different costume status effects and you can even cause the game to be more challenging if you want, and with the brutality of certain sections during the hard playthrough, there is enough challenge to keep anyone from getting bored, especially if you’re playing multiplayer. You should play this game.
Thanks to the second level of difficulty, the plethora of secrets, the ability to play local multiplayer, and two vastly different endings, Guacamelee! definitely has replay value, and that’s all in addition to the natural amount of replayability that comes with any game that’s just really fun to play. Guacamelee! is one of those rare games that, when you complete it, makes you yearn for more (which thankfully we will get with Guacamelee! 2). While this will likely translate into a go at the hard setting and finding any secrets you may have missed the first time around, it will eventually just lead to increased anticipation for the sequel. You should play this game.
While Guacamelee! clearly takes its gameplay style from the metroidvania games before it, as well as arcade beat ’em ups, it does so out in the open. Little jokes and references can be found all over the game, in the background, and even right in front of your face; a perfect example of this is the Choozo Statue, an obvious allusion to Metroid’s Chozo Statues.
However, in almost every other possible way, Guacamelee! stands out as very unique. The Mexican style and lore, the music, the colors, the world switching, the platforming challenges, and the humor all help elevate it to a very memorable level. You should play this game.
My Personal Grade: 9/10
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is not a perfect game, but it’s a damn good one. The art style is spectacular almost to the point of distraction. The soundtrack will relax you, push you, and pump your adrenaline. The want for secrets and the “true ending” will dig out the explorer in you. The engrossing boss battles will bring you back to your childhood with their arcade-like designs. The multiplayer will add an entirely new level of fun, and difficulty, to the game if you have someone to play with you. Its biggest flaw, and possibly it’s biggest compliment, is that it’s criminally short. More than anything, the sequel needs to be longer than this game is, and the Super Turbo Championship Edition adds new areas and bosses to the original game.
Guacamelee! fuses the metroidvania map and power-up system with beat ’em up, brawler-style fighting for a truly unique and enjoyable experience. The most important thing a game can be is fun, and Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is delightfully fun. It’s a game that reminds us of how great past games are, how relevant they can still be in the current gaming era, and even their importance in the future.
You should play this game.
Aggregated Score: 8.8
The ABXY Mage leads a double life of unfathomable smoothness, if his expertise in jazz is any indication. Music maker, fandangoist, writer, you can find this hip cat as ABXY Reviews on Twitter and on YouTube.
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