Guacamelee! – The PS3 Attitude Review
Guacamelee! is the latest title from DrinkBox Studios, the Toronto-based developer behind the awesome Tales From Space series on PS3 and PS Vita. Available for both consoles, the team’s latest project is a Metroidvania-style 2D platformer that stars a Mexican farmer named Juan Aguacate, who finds himself in a bit of a pickle when he is killed five minutes into the game.
So it’s certainly convenient that, while in the afterlife, he stumbles upon an ancient luchador mask, which grants him the power to teleport between worlds. Meanwhile, an evil skeleton named Calaca kidnaps El Presidente’s Daughter (congrats if you get the reference) and hatches a plan to merge the Dead World with that of the Living. In true videogame fashion, it’s up to Juan to stop him.
Guacamelee! is perhaps best described as a hybrid between a platformer and brawler, which basically means you spend your time jumping around on ledges and beating up bad guys (as well as the odd chicken). Square is used for a basic punch, but the real fun comes from racking up big combos, which can be extended with special moves such as head butt and uppercut.
These special moves are also used to destroy the various coloured blocks that dot the game’s landscape, barricading certain paths. Each colour requires a different move, which are unlocked throughout the game. Returning to previous levels is often an exciting experience because you’ll have most likely learnt something new that will allow you to reach a previously inaccessible area.
The sheer amount of moves to learn can get a little overwhelming, but it’s all masterfully paced so you never have too much to learn too soon. The learning curve in general is very fair, although a couple of sections towards the end veer dangerously close to being more frustrating than fun. Don’t let that put you off though, as the overall experience is fantastic.
The story itself isn’t particularly long, but with upgrades to purchase, chests to discover and side missions to complete, there’s plenty of content to keep you busy for a good 8-10 hours or so. You’ll need to do all the above if you’re after the game’s platinum trophy (yes, it has a platinum!), as well as finish a second playthrough on the unlockable Hard difficulty – yikes!
Being a platformer, we’ve already mentioned Castlevania and Metroid as its predominant inspirations, but the game also shares a lot in common with more recent 2D titles such as Outland, Super Meat Boy and Knytt Underground. The fact that Guacamelee! manages to match the quality of such titles while successfully adding its own ideas into the mix is a huge credit to the developer.
Of course, there’s a fine line between an homage and a clone, but Guacamelee! most definitely falls into the former category. The game includes a huge amount of Easter eggs and references to other videogames; even some you wouldn’t necessarily expect. It just goes to show that Portal-like gameplay mechanics can make even the strongest of games even better.
Like the gameplay, the presentation is awesome. An undercurrent of humour is present throughout the entire game, with likeable characters that are brimming with personality despite the fact that it doesn’t feature any voice-acting. The bright cartoon visuals really pop out of the screen (whether you’re playing on PS3 or Vita), and are complemented by a suitably Mexican soundtrack.
Oh, and did we mention the whole game can be played in local two-player co-op on PS3? Put simply, if you let Guacamelee! pass you buy then you will be seriously missing out. We were big fans of Tales From Space here at PS3 Attitude, but there’s no doubt DrinkBox has raised the bar significantly with its latest release. We look forward to seeing whatever they work on next!