Review: Guacamelee! (PS3)

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As an honourable Luchador, it is your duty to save the daughter of El Presidente. And beat up evil skeletons along the way.

From Drinkbox Studios comes Guacamelee!, a Mexican-themed action-platformer game downloadable off the PS Store. And when I say Mexican, I mean stereotypical Mexican, but in a loveable LittleBigPlanet kind of way. You have your average Juan turned the Luchador hero after evil undead fiends absconds with the lovely president’s daughter. Juan is bestowed the sacred mask of the famed Mexican wrestler and is sent on his way.

The game is playable alone or with someone else in the room with a controller handy. The sharp, vibrant splashes of colours representing the hot Mexican deserts alongside the cold licks of the world of the dead is the art style of the day. Players take Juan around a rather expansive map, about the size of one in Hyrule, each with its own little towns and dungeons.

Your main goal being to take your fair president’s daughter back, Juan will traverse between two worlds enterable by various, well-placed portals around the game world. Jumping into one opens up new paths around you, as well as close new ones. These offer up new platforms to access different areas unreachable in another world. There to stop you along the way are the skeleton minions of Carlos Calaca. They come in three flavours: the average, the swift and the bone-thrower.

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Fights in this platformer uses a variety of combo moves and special moves. A few blows will weaken most enemies, allowing you to throw them onto the ceiling, or onto other enemies, knocking them down, for you to continue this process. As you progress, more enemies of different types will appear, such as those which can fly or bury themselves underground, forcing you to being them on the surface world before you can pummel them.

Guacamelee! follows the merciful gameplay of Rayman Origins in that it not only counts lives, it also reloads pretty quickly, unless your respawn location is further away from where you were. There are skull altars that represent the world’s checkpoints and power-up store for you to spend the money you pick up when you defeat enemies.

There’s plenty to explore in Juan’s world and even more when you discover these statues you can’t resist smashing to pieces. After a brief scolding, you are given a new move, usually attached to a combo on the Circle button, and you’ll be able to smash certain coloured blocks that stand in your way of secrets or more riches.

These moves are also essential to many of the puzzle-solving you’ll have to face when traversing the platforms. One example involves a green brick you have to smash downwards to break, before you can shatter the red one, but you can only perform these special moves once before you touch the ground again, but that usually means falling into a pit of death. Enemies will soon get wise and put on a shield of a specific colour you can only break with one of the moves you already learnt, which makes fights all the more troublesome.

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Guacamelee! is definitely in touch with the Internet generation, sporting plenty of pop culture, gaming and Internet meme references, including one an entire homage to Bowser and Mario. You can spot other references in the in-game dialogue.

If playing alone and failing a puzzle has you frustrated, Guacamelee is capable of a second-player entering the game via local co-op or through PS Vita Cross-Play (there is a PS Vita version of the game, but that only has single-player action). Having a co-op partner makes fights easier if your partner knows the ropes. There was at least one instance where I had to use the help of a second player to get to the other side of a cross-dimensional bridge.

A potentially lethal thing to note is the game’s flashiness. I’m not talking about how good it looks. Obtaining a new move or item will cause the game to rapidly flash jarring, brilliant colours on the screen, which can be a vicious problem with photosensitive epileptics. Although such sequences remain short, it seems to be a part of the game that can’t be turned off.

Deadliness Drinkbox Studios’ Guacamelee is a worthy indie title to sit in a PlayStation 3 of a platformer game enthusiast. It has taken several ideas from all the good titles and put it in their own and made it work in a game with a quirky, yet unique story.

Guacamelee! (PS3)
  • Vibrant, sharp colour palette shows where the cheer is and the glum resides.
  • Plenty of action and side-questing.
  • Merciful respawn points and load times.
  • Rapid flashing of colour in some sequences can be jarring even to a normal individual.
THE VERDICT: BUY IT

Guacamelee! is a action-platformer game by Drinkbox Studios for the PlayStation 3 and Ps Vita. Downloadable off the PlayStation Network Store.

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