Meet Juan. Juan is our silent protagonist. He lives in Pueblucho, where he tends an agave farm and operates a Tequila distillery. He’s called upon to help the Priest of the church move a few items around. Juan meets his old friend the President’s daughter. She has a thing for Juan and asks him to come over to catch up on old times. Things are looking up for our buddy Juan, at least until the President’s home explodes and his friend is kidnapped by the evil, Carlos Calaca. Juan tries to save the President’s daughter, but he is overwhelmed by dark power and dies. Juan wakes up in the realm of the dead and stumbles on a ghostly woman. She offers him the power of a great Luchadore to save his friend. Juan takes on this great strength and sets off a journey to rescue El Presidente’s daughter!
Juan will encounter many strange beings on his travels, and each conversation is pure comedy gold. His encounters with bosses such as Carlos girlfriend, who complains about her relationship but at the same time she’s obviously, trying to seduce Juan. Once you learn that there are talking goats and roosters, you’ll realize that there nothing is serious in this land. The humor is very similar to the early Monkey Island games, so get ready to release quite a few chuckles. and a great change of pace from the overly serious demeanor of games nowadays. that’s what makes this title all the more unforgettable.
Guacamelee’s world is a tapestry of vibrant colors and fluid animation. The art-style melds a cartoonish style with flowing watercolor backdrops. It stays beautiful while mixing in video game culture with the tone of movies and the internet. It is clear that Drinkbox loves video games – especially the ones created during the NES era. There are plenty of nods to Mario Bros., and quotes from Star Wars thrown into mix. It’s only a bonus that the soundtrack is an electric mix of 8-bit themed beats to match the plat-forming madness.
If you are familiar with Metroidvania titles, you’ll feel right at home with Guacamelee. It injects combo-mashing combat, with precise platform jumping elements. Juan can learn a variety of moves for destroying his foes, but these techniques are also useful for traversing the terrain. Juan can frog splash on his enemies, perform a volatile suplex, and knock a person in the air with a mean Shoryuken! Our hero can roll away from attacks, consistently dodging them in timed succession to ignore incoming damage. This fun and frantic system takes on a level of complexity by the addition of power themed shields, and the shifting of dimensional space.
Juan can bounce back and forth between the world of the living and the dead at the push of a button. This allows Juan to reach untouchable enemies and pillars that did not exist before. This is just one of the many powers that Juan can receive by breaking goat statues scattered through the game. Each of these powers can shatter blocks found in various locales of Guacamelee. Juan can also polymorph into a chicken to get into smaller spaces, and this is definitely a nod to the Samus roll from Metroid.
It features cooperative play only on the PS3 console. The Playstation Vita is used as a second controller, or simply upload a save to the cloud and take the game on the road. The Vita version is just as fun, but the screen is zoomed out more and it can detract from the finer details of the title. With that said, the controls are just as smooth as the console version and just as enjoyable. The lack of online multi-player or even ad-hoc Vita play is the only missed opportunity.
Casuals are welcome to jump around wildly through the main storyline. Just be ready for a frustratingly fun time, if you’re in it for the collectibles. Players can obtain health and stamina chunks, find pieces of a Luchadore mask, and break open chests to earn buckets of gold. As Juan earns new abilities, the effort taken to reach these items can produce an abundance of screams and cuss words. It’s the ultimate challenge and it can be maddening, but you’ll continually test your reflexes and thirst for more.
Juan’s journey to save the President’s daughter is an amazing one. Those looking for a hair-pulling test of precision plat forming should apply. Drinkbox has clearly shown their love for gaming and the genre, and the tender loving care blossoms from this title. Guacamelee receives an A from Geek Citadel. This is one of the best titles to own on PS3 or Vita, and for a meager fifteen dollars that’s a deal that can’t be beat.