We’ve been treated to one or two decent games through Microsoft’s ‘Games with Gold’ scheme. I was enchanted by Dust – An Elysian Tale, entertained by Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and overjoyed with Dead Light. There have, however, been one or two stinkers as well, with Halo Spartan Assault coming to mind. But none of these games can stand up to Microsoft’s latest offering on the Xbox One, Guacamelee!: Super Turbo Championship Edition. For me, this game is the pinnacle for Games with Gold – Microsoft have really outdone themselves this time. Obviously, Microsoft can’t take the credit for the awesomeness that is Gucamelee!, that’s down to the wonderful people at Drinkbox Studios. With Guacamelee!, Drinkbox have encapsulated everything that I love in a platform beat em’ up game. All Microsoft did was give it to us for free, for which I will be eternally grateful.
When I first heard about Guacamelee!, I had no idea of what to expect. I knew that it was popular on the PS3 and Vita back in 2013 but, as I own neither of these platforms, I didn’t really pay too much attention to it. To be perfectly honest, I was expecting Guacamelee! to be a game more along the lines of Super Smash Bros, a sort of arena brawl type title. So, when I first set it to download on my Xbox One, I was fully expecting to play it for five or ten minutes and then, after getting bored, return to Sniper Elite 3 or my go-to favourite, FIFA 14. After just ten minutes of playing it, I was hooked, absolutely captivated, even spellbound by the game. I just couldn’t seem to put it down. I had been playing for an hour, even though it felt like just ten minutes, when I had to take a break to eat; stupid food, ruining my game time. After that I was off to my girlfriend’s for a half-hour meet up before going to the podcast. We recorded our 21st podcast (if you’ve not been following our podcasts, where have you been?! Check them out here) and then got on with adding the finishing touches to our untitled game. By the time I’d done all of that, it was 11.30pm. I got home, went straight to my Xbox One and switched it on again, ready for another marathon of Guacamelee! until 2am the next morning. Where did the time go? I had no idea. Once again I was sucked in by the game, entranced by the beautiful colours, fast-paced action and tongue in cheek humour.
For me, Guacamelee! is one of those games that I can’t put down and, when I finally manage to prise the controller from my own grasp, it’s one of those games that I can’t stop thinking about playing. I only ever get that sort of feeling with a decent RPG, where I fantasize about what I’ll be doing next in the game as I guide my character through the open world. Guacamelee!, however, is different. It isn’t an RPG, though it does have some RPG elements. I’m not even sure what makes it so addictive. I mean, it’s incredibly fun and entertaining. It constantly puts a smile on my face and it’s the perfect balance between challenging and simple that encourages you to try again, but doesn’t punish you too much for failing. But, there isn’t a single factor that convinces me of the game’s fantastic nature. There are multiple aspects to Guacamelee! that make it an incredible game, some of which I can’t seem to put my finger on.
If you can’t quite tell, I love Guacamelee!, but this isn’t exactly a review. I’ll do a proper review once I’ve completed the game, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be getting a very high score indeed. I guess, what I’m really asking in this article is whether or not Microsoft will be able to outdo Guacamelee!, at least on the Xbox One. For me, Guacamelee! is the perfect free game. It’s addictive, it’s fun, and it’s quick and easy to get into. What more could you ask for? What I’m hoping for with Games with Gold is that Microsoft can keep up with this precedence, that they can focus on delivering fantastic games on a monthly basis. We’ve had one or two stinkers over the past few months but, overall, the quality has been pretty high. The one problem with the Xbox One, however, is that there isn’t much of a back-catalogue of games – at least ones that the majority of people might not already own. There are, however, a lot of brilliant looking indie games coming to the console this year and next, which could easily make up the bulk of Games with Gold on the Xbox One.
I love a good indie game, so I’m really hoping that Microsoft start offering some of the ID@Xbox games to us, (provided that they give the developers a good deal to do so, I’d hate to think that they’d end up out of pocket over it). On the other hand, the 360 has tonnes of fantastic games that a lot of people might not have already tried; Gotham City Impostors being one of them. So there is a wealth of great content to offer people on the 360 and a decent amount of potential content for Xbox One owners. In all, if Microsoft can keep giving us free games to a similar calibre of Guacamelee!, I’ll be one happy bunny.