Sunday, February 2, 2014

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

Rating for this game: 8.9

Happy Price: 14.99


Guacamelee starts with an average Joe type of character turned into a super luchador after a series of unfortunate events. The combination of humor, great combat design, and a unique Mexican art style make for a great cohesive experience. 

Combat: The combat reminds me of a wrestling game mixed with a fighting game. There is so much satisfaction launching opponents into the air, getting a 3 hit combo, then transitioning into a bone crunching suplex. As the protagonist wears a luchador outfit, there is a strong emphasis on wrestling moves like the super frog splash. This game is the best thing to happen for wrestling fans and fighting games alike. As the game progressively gets more difficult, your moveset can be upgraded and larger combos can be generated. There are also more enemies on screen, which plays great into the ability to suplex or throw opponents into one another. Doing so can launch another opponent into the air that can be followed up with more combos and the following sequence can be repeated. Skilled players can easily get 200 hit combos, the largest I got was 117. 

Progression: Staying true to the theme of the game, the user acquires Pesos based on enemies defeated, treasures found, and the length of the combos during battles. Upgrades are pretty expensive, so the player is forced to decide what exactly they want to build out. You are not forced to grind at any point, but you do have the freedom to go back and defeat more enemies for more Pesos if you wish. There did not seem to be a limit on upgrades, and from some footage I've seen online there were people that had far more life and stamina than I did. I was able to complete the game without having to go back at any point though. Defeating bosses gives you sliver coins, which are used to buy skins or outfits. Buying outfits usually consist of a trade off, for example "hits drain life of enemies, but player has 50% normal health". You can switch outfits at any checkpoint though, so its fun to try out different outfits and see what suits your play style.


The story emulates Super Mario. Superboss has your love, you chase them through the game, and you defeat a bunch of sub-bosses along the way. At one point, there is even a tribute to Mario during a boss battle, which was awesome. The dialogue stayed true to the Mexican theme throughout the entire experience. Characters periodically speak Spanish, and names of characters are slang Spanish (Mexican) which brings authenticity and humor to the dialogue. I could not believe the people that made this game were from Canada. The writing is funny and keeps you engaged, but the focus of the game is gameplay. I was happy the story was written concise and dense enough to allow for quick, purposeful dialogue that allowed me to get back into the action.


Environment: There is a clear influence on the art that resides with Mexico itself. The color palette is very festive and bright, and I think I've seen every major color in this game. Even the dead dimension has neon incorporated within it, making everything feel very alive and fast paced. It makes for a very pleasing look that never seems to let up. There are details and works of art in every corner of the game. From the skeletons that resemble the known day of the dead art style to the design of the villages, each element of this game was carefully thought out and executed cleanly. 

Animation: With the amount of enemy types and NPC characters I was surprised I did not feel like there were shortcuts taken with animation. It seemed each enemy had their own thing going on and nobody shared moves or animations. With 2D games often times there are things that get re-used and it is easily identified. I appreciated the fact that this was either hidden very well or not done at all. Along with the rest of the art style, animation was flawless and there isn't much else to say than that. 


A must have. The game is accessible to people of all ages. It is friendly enough for kids yet mature enough for a hardcore gamer myself. It reminds me of watching a Pixar movie where hidden jokes are added that only adults understand. When I was done playing, all I wanted to do was play more. The combat system is the star of this game because it is so addicting, but supported very well by the art style and authentic Mexican folklore that is both educational and fun to experience.

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