We’ve been treated to some pretty great games on the current-gen so far, I mean, there aren’t any that I would say are fantastic or sensational, but there have been a few great games. That was until we were treated to Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, the first truly fantastic game on the current-gen. Drinkbox Studios has created a little slice of platformer beat em’ up heaven with Guacamelee! and, even better, it’s currently free on the Xbox One this July.
Guacamelee! is a 2D side-scrolling platform beat em’ up game based in Mexico. You play as Juan, a humble, rather non-descript farmer who has little to his name, other than a shack and a load of chickens. The game begins with you completing a rather mundane task but, rather quickly, all hell breaks loose as an evil skeleton charro, named Carlos Calaca, rises from the underworld and captures El Presidente’s daughter, who just so happens to be Juan’s childhood friend and steamy love interest. After being unceremoniously defeated by the undead moustachioed skeleton, Juan is transported to a sort of purgatory type land of the dead, where he receives a special luchador mask that gives him super luchador powers and brings him back to the world of the living. From then on the plot is quite simple, rescue El Presidente’s daughter and save the world. The game takes a lot of influence from the classic beat em’ ups, whilst adding its own twists as well as borrowing from Mexican culture and folklore. All of this combines to make an engaging, enthralling and entertaining story from beginning to end.
The gameplay is incredibly simple, with combat relying solely on combos and special powers to defeat the bad guys. There is a real range of enemies, from your basic skeleton grunt, to giant skeleton brutes, huge hammer wielding skeletons, mini Aztec skeletons and your classic main bosses; the majority of whom are clad in sombreros and ponchos. Quite often in the game I found myself having run-ins with some of the main bad guys that I assumed would end in a boss fight, however on most occasions they chose to flee rather than fight, so I sometimes found that I was tackling the bosses when I least expected it. It’s nice, because it removes an aura of predictability that you often find with these sorts of platform games. As you progress through Guacamelee!, you’ll have various run-ins with a goat guide who, on occasion, transforms into an old man with a worrying obsession with your mother. You have to destroy a number of ‘Choozo Statues’ to gain his attention and, by doing so, you’ll also unlock new offensive and non-offensive moves. These moves range from body slams to power uppercuts, and the ability to run up walls or fly horizontally from one side of a flat surface to another. These are all unlocked as you go through the game, with some of them being locked for a good chunk of the story. The offensive moves can also be used to traverse the map, with some of the abilities smashing various coloured blocks that stop you progressing through certain areas. The game is technically open-world, much along the lines of Dust: An Elysian Tale, so you can choose to follow the main story and head for your set objectives, or you can explore the world finding secrets and completing side-quests. Overall, Guacamelee! can be a rather expansive game, if you search every nook and cranny and complete all of the additional missions. But, if you’re looking for a quick pick up and play title, you won’t find much better than Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. It’s an incredibly versatile game.
On the non-PS Vita version, Drinkbox has also added a co-op mode that enables a second player to join your game locally, controlling Tostada, a female luchador who appears in the single player play-through now and then. Guacamelee! is an incredibly fun game to play on your own, but it’s even better playing it with a friend. It’s the perfect ‘jump in, jump out’ co-op game, something that I’ve really been searching for since completing Rayman Legends. The Super Turbo Championship Edition brings a few new levels and bosses along with some of the DLC that has been released on the other consoles so far. For £11.99, that’s a lot of bang for your buck; unless you own an Xbox One of course, in which case it’s totally free this month. You’d be the world’s biggest fool if you didn’t download it for free, and I’d happily have paid £20 for this game, so £11.99 is a complete steal on the other platforms.
There is so much to love about Guacamelee! it’s charming, it’s funny, it’s ridiculously fun and it’s incredibly playable. It’s one of those games that you can just pick up and play for a few minutes, or get completely lost whilst playing for hours on end. When I first downloaded it last week, I spent five hours solid playing it – though it only felt like half an hour. I explored every area I could find, diverging somewhat from the beaten path to find as many collectibles as possible. I completed all of the side-quests that I could and avoided any contact with the main story for as long as possible. I just wanted to spend a few hours exploring the rich world, marvelling at the graphics and level design and kicking some serious arse whilst doing so. Not only that, but I talked to every character that I could find, all of whom were either interesting or hilarious, or both. The game seems to have no weaknesses whatsoever. It might be a little short, but then you’re only paying £11.99, not £40. Otherwise, it’s unfaultable.
I couldn’t recommend Guacamelee! any more highly. It’s the perfect game, in my opinion of course. I’m already on my second play-though of the game, and I’m still loving every second. If you own the Xbox One, you have to download this right now. Like now. Go do it already. You’ll really regret not getting it whilst it’s free. If you don’t own a One, you will not be disappointed with spending £11.99, especially if you’re a fan of platformers or beat em’ ups. I guarantee it.