Guacamelee! Review

The Mexicans have this thing about the living and the dead interacting with each other and Guacamelee! Gold is no different. You are Juan Aguacate and your task is to save El Presidente’s daughter from being sacrificed by Carlos Calaca.

Picture yourself just lying in your hammock, having a snooze, next thing you know, you’re leaving your Casa and running towards the nearest town to see what’s going on. You get there, talk to a few locals and end up doing a few odd jobs which eventually results in some evil characters from the World of the Dead rising up to cause a bit of mayhem.

You’re a quiet, peace-loving man and you like nothing better than assisting the residents of Pueblucho, you’re asked to fetch some chairs and suddenly El Presidente’s mansion is on fire, the daughter is in Carlos Calaca’s grasp and you’re sucked into the Underworld.

It’s not quite the Underworld, just underground below El Presidente’s mansion. A quick trudge underground back to the alternative version of Pueblucho and you arrive at the big statue of a wrestler, but this time its mask is glowing.

After a brief dialogue with another character, you don the mask, shed some clothes and set off to put right all that has succumb to Hellish chaos. That and you open up the option for a Player 2 to join the game as Tostada for some co-op gaming and go kick some undead ass together.

You encounter some strange characters such as Great Uay Chivo who, would you believe, is the Lord of Man Goats. Yes, that’s the kind of humour we’re dealing with in Guacamelee! Gold Edition, it’s a bit childish and maybe immature, but if you have a problem with that, I suggest you stop playing videogames and go be boring somewhere else.

He transforms from a goat into am old man, then once the dialogue is over and has asked if your mother is single a couple of times, goes back to being Billy.

As you progress, more moves will open up to you, starting with the Rooster Uppercut which allows you to break red blocks that are in the way of gaining access to parts of the level you’re required to get to. That said, there are certain parts only accessible by breaking other coloured blocks and the method to doing that comes later on.

Another aspect of the game involves doing little tasks for people who are looking for someone or need something. Combat is easy to get the hang of, it’s mostly just a case of punching, but combo’s open up and dodging plays a pretty big part. It can get quite tricky and you’ll sometimes get lost, that’s where the map comes in handy for you to work out which way you need to go.

While the game is light-hearted, it’s certainly not to be taken lightly. Some of the skeletal enemies may seem easy to defeat, that is until you meet several of them or even the big, Armadillos who can’t be knocked out by just a few punches. I consider myself a capable gamer, meaning I learn quite quickly and have a grasp on how the game works, but it gets quite tough in some parts and strategy is needed.

The style of the game is similar to Shank, a 2D side-scroller, colourful, funny and a joy to play. That may sound a bit corny, some games can get you frustrated very easily, Guacamelee! may have you a little agitated in certain parts of the game, but a little thought soon gets you to where you want to go.

There are no puzzles, so don’t worry about having to put any grey matter to use except for remembering who you spoke to about some cheese.

There are several places to discover and surprisingly, there’s a way to fast-travel between destinations via magical big talking stone heads as long as you’ve found and spoken to the heads first. If you ever get a bit lost, there is a map which will show you where you are although, it’s not very detailed and just gives you a rough idea.

Getting into technical details, the animation has that joyful, yet slightly jerky touch which gives it that cartoon action feel. The soundtrack is great and fits right in with the gameplay, speaking of which is better if played with a controller, it’s really not a mouse and keyboard type of game.

Then we arrive at the question; is Guacamelee! Gold a good game and worth buying? For a ‘Metroid-vania action-platformer’ where you travel between the land of the living and dead, headbutt giant deceased Armadillo’s in a chicken costume (if you choose), yeah, it’s not bad.

You get the El Inferno level expansion which is where you can take on challenges to unlock more costumes, each costume has its own attributes to give Juan and/or Tostada extra powers and new achievements.

This is not just another suck-up review, the only way to experience running through Mexican-themed worlds of the living and dead while defeating the forces of evil to rescue a princess is to play it for yourself.

It’s a time where there is a lack of decent titles to pick up and you need some excitement that Animal Crossing: New Leaf just isn’t providing and Saints Row IV is still a week away, what are you going to play?

You’ve seen Nacho Libre, right? You’ve never wanted to play as a Luchador going around punching the living dead while learning new abilities from a goat that transforms into an old man? Good lord, you’re missing out on a heck of a lot of awesome entertainment and my recommendation is that to fill that void in your soul with Guacamelee! Gold… STAT!

A little word of warning: be careful if you suffer from flash or photo-sensitive epilepsy, when you earn a power-up (such as the Rooster Uppercut) the screen flashes multiple colours, the game gives a brief warning when it loads and so you have to be a quick reader to see it.