I am destined to be a superhero; to right wrongs and pound two-fisted justice into the hearts of evildoers everywhere.
“The following is a contributor post by the ABXY Mage.”
If you read my review of Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition then you would know that I was very hungry for a sequel. Of course, as is always the case when you really enjoy a game, waiting for a sequel can bring equal parts eagerness and anxiety.
Will it do the first game justice? Will it deliver on everything you hope? Or will it let you down? Will it be more of the same with little addition or maybe a totally new direction that you hate? I loved Guacamelee! so my excitement and worry were both sky-high.
Guacamelee! 2 starts off with a short replay of the ending from the first game. It’s much easier this time, which the game makes a joke of pointing out. This is just to make sure that you see the good ending in case you didn’t actually get it when you beat the first game.
To clarify, there are two endings to Guacamelee!, and knowing them both is important for understanding Guacamelee! 2.
In both endings, Juan defeats Calaca and stops the combination of the Worlds of The Living and The Dead. In the bad ending, however, Juan is unable to save his love after Calaca’s ritual kills her.
In the good ending, he does save her, and they live happily… ever after?
Seven years have passed since Juan bested Calaca and saved El Presidente’s Daughter. The lovers now have two small children together. With his luchador days behind him, Juan is now middle-aged and sporting a cerveza-belly.
One day, while looking at his old posters, Juan’s kids ask him to play with them. After chasing them up the stairs, Juan’s wife announces that it’s time for dinner. Then, suddenly, and without warning, the bad news comes…
You’re all out of avocados and your wife wants you to go into town and get some more!
It’s while in the familiar village of Pueblucho that the real trouble, and the story, begins. Ominous and oddly-shaped black clouds have appeared all over town and nobody seems to know what they are or where they came from.
The plot only thickens when a portal door opens and your mentor, Uay Chivo steps out from it.
After quickly saying that he has no time to explain why the Mexiverse is in danger–or what that even is–he asks Juan to follow him into the portal, to the “Darkest Timeline” (whatever that means).
Unfortunately for Juan, the journey is not direct. In order to reach the Darkest Timeline, he must first travel through some other timelines, which include even more video game references.
Finally, stepping through the final portal door, Juan enters Pueblucho in the Darkest Timeline.
At the luchador statue in the center of town, some of your questions are answered while new questions arise.
The first thing you learn is that the strange black things in the sky appeared after Salvador took the Gold Relic from the town statue. Who is Salvador? Well, besides being the final boss, he is also the mighty luchador that defeated Calaca!
Wait, didn’t Juan defeat Calaca?
Well, it turns out they both defeated Calaca. How? Let’s go back to the “Mexiverse.” So, the Mexiverse, as it turns out, is a multiple-timeline universe. So, in your timeline, Juan defeats Calaca. In the previously mentioned Darkest Timeline, Calaca kills both Juan and El Presidente’s Daughter, and is later killed by Salvador. Actually, Calaca wins over Juan in every timeline other than the one you played in Guacamelee! which makes you “The Juan.”
For not-yet-known reasons, Salvador is apparently collecting the Time Relics, the Gold Relic being the first. According to the Uay Chivo from the Darkest Timeline, if he collects them all, the timelines could collapse into themselves, and it’s up to “The Juan” to save the entire Mexiverse. However, first you have to reunite with Tostada, The Guardian of The Mask, to reclaim your luchador mask and power. This means traveling to The World of The Dead.
Juan, once again the champion luchador, and Tostada then travel to Pantanillo, where Tostada says there is a portal back to The World of The Living. Inside, the pair meet the council of Uay Chivos, who reveal to them the rest of Salvador’s sinister plan… to open El Otromundo and eat the Sacred Guacamole!
To find out what those are, and what that means, you’ll have to play the game.
Now that I’ve played Guacamelee! 2, I feel like I should retrospectively give Guacamelee! a 9/10 in visuals because they are definitely even better in Guac 2. Not by leaps and bounds, but it is noticeable. At the same time, I don’t regret giving Guacamelee! a 10, either because the visuals are that good.
Can they have the same score if one actually has even better visuals? Well, like Jean-Luc Picard, I just made it so.
The style that we know and love from the first game is back. The wonderful, almost comic book, Mexican/luchador-inspired setting returns with more retro and pop culture references than before and an even more vibrant and wider-ranging color pallet.
As in the first game, the two worlds that you switch between are most distinguishable by their colors. In addition to the even brighter and more diverse use of color are the fuller backgrounds. There are so much more details to the landscapes through which you traverse.
The color shields, and blocks, associated with various special moves also make a return. These even include new ones for special Pollo moves, for when you’re in chicken form (also returning from the first game).
Guacamelee! 2 has one immediate, standout addition to it, and that is that enemies explode like paintballs when you kill them. This also helps make the environments feel more alive and real as this paint-blood stays until you go to a new screen.
Guacamelee! 2 also sees the inclusion of a wider variety of enemy designs, and not by just a few. There are a lot more enemy types than there were in the first game, while again, all the enemies have beefed-up version of themselves as well as various color-shields.
Much like the first game, Guacamelee! 2 has a wonderful mix of electronic, dance, acoustic, and Mexico-inspired themes and rhythms. The original sound compliments the visual style perfectly, and adds to the atmosphere even when it’s comical. And, just like in the first entry in the series, there are alternate (World of The Dead) versions of nearly all of the songs as well.
Aside from the obvious comparison to Guacamelee!, the soundtrack is very unique and still blends the traditional, Mexi-fluenced music with contemporary styles and arcade homages extremely well. It’s also definitely a soundtrack that can be enjoyed separately from the game. To top it all off, Guacamelee! 2 even has a song with chicken vocals!
All the Guacamelee! arcade-like sound effects are back in full force, too. All the bone-crushing, barrel-breaking, flaming, whooshing, flying, smashing, grunting, suplexing, exploding sounds and feels are there. And they’re delicious.
Gameplay is the category in which Guacamelee! 2 takes the biggest risks. Visual style or gameplay are always going to be the most dangerous areas for sequels to make changes–just look at the initial reaction to Wind Waker’s cel-shading or the reaction to Zelda II. Fortunately, Guacamelee! 2 makes changes that nobody could have much problem with and that add to the game with almost entirely positive results.
One of the biggest, not-immediately noticeable changes is the addition of several special moves. While a couple are for Juan, most of the new movies are for Juan’s chicken form. The almost novelty ability to turn into a chicken in Guacamelee! is now a fully fleshed out ability with an equal number of special moves to the human counterpart. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities in dungeons, secrets, traveling, and platforming challenges.
The most obvious changes are those made to the costumes and progression system. This one hits and misses, depending on the point of view of the person you ask. To recap, in Guacamelee! you use gold that you collect to purchase new costumes which have different buffs that increase and decrease various stats.
Disappointingly, in Guacamelee! 2, the costumes are nothing more than cosmetic unlockables.
On the other, more favorable hand, Guac 2 introduces skill trees. This is where you will spend your gold this time around. However, it takes more than gold to gain all of the abilities. You must meet the necessary characters, you must complete certain challenges, and in combination with the money they cost, you also have to find treasures or perform particular moves a set number of times in order to unlock the purchasing of skills. It’s a fun way to add depth to your move set and the game’s difficulty ramp.
Dimension swapping makes a return, but this time there is an extra twist. Because Salvador is opening El Otromundo, there are some areas where The World of The Living and The World of The Dead have started to intertwine. This creates very original challenges in dungeons where one dimension contains instant-death obstacles and the two dimensions move as they intersect.
Even though it’s a sequel, Guacamelee! 2 still walks you through a tutorial. Luckily, along the way, there is plenty of comedy and story setup. This helps make the tutorial more of a fun refresher and not the annoying chore tutorials can be in other games.
The game always gives you an objective and a general idea of which way to go, but there are also all kinds of secrets–in locations of varying difficulty to find. The non-essential challenges and secrets are definitely the most difficult part of the game, but these are only for those who wish to 100% or get the good ending, so they won’t stop anyone from playing through the entire game.
While the main portion of the game may not be as difficult as the secret challenges, it is definitely harder than Guacamelee! was. You will need to near-master almost all of your special moves in order to complete the game.
In the first Guacamelee! getting the good ending was contingent on you finding all of the pieces of the Sacred Mask. This time around, you must find Secret Key pieces, and they are not easy to obtain. Each piece is hidden behind a very difficult challenge, usually involving platforming, dimension swapping, Pollo Power, and your special moves.
Not only is the platforming more demanding, but the additional enemy designs, encounters with mini bosses, and lucha arenas also means an increased difficulty in fighting. This helps keep the fighting fun for even longer. I almost never skipped smashing an enemy in this game.
Thankfully, the auto-saves are fairly plentiful and there is no limit on continues. So, you can practice secrets, challenges, and mini bosses as many times as you want or need.
There are several factors that give Guacamelee! 2 good replay value. Firstly, there are all the secrets. Exploration and discovery is an excellent reason to revisit the game another time even if you’ve gotten everything before. This includes all of the Heart and Stamina chests, the Chicken Dungeons, and the Secret Key challenges.
Like its predecessor, Guacamelee! 2 has a Hard Mode that unlocks after you complete the game the first time. So, even if you got all the secrets the first time through, you still have a reason to go back again.
It’s every bit as unique as the first entry, except for the fact that it’s a sequel. There might have been a few more Metroidvanias released in the time between the two games, but it’s still a criminally underrepresented genre.
The Mexican folklore, comic book art style, quirky humor, references to other games and pop culture, and the Chicken Illuminati all help to keep this sequel fresh, even if you’ve recently played the first game.
My Personal Grade: 9/10
The only negative thing I can say about it is that the bosses aren’t as deep and memorable as the bosses in Guacamelee! are. The first boss, El Muñeco, has the most character, but he is disposed of quite early on. Even Salvador lacks the flair and showmanship that Calaca displayed so well.
Otherwise, I love this game. It’s incredibly fun. The additional challenges and difficulty really kept me engaged from start to finish. I wanted more enemy types, and I got them. I wanted a bigger world, and I got one. I wanted a more in-depth progression system, and I got that too.
If you want a sequel that is even better and more filling than the original, Guacamelee! 2 delivers just that.
We would like to thank DrinkBox Studios for supplying us with a copy of their game for this critique.
Aggregated Score: 9.0
The ABXY Mage leads a double life of unfathomable hipness, 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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Categories: Game Review