Review: Guacamelee! (PS3/PS Vita)

Review: Guacamelee! (PS3/PS Vita)

Everywhere you look today there is a remake or a re-release of a game that draws upon nostalgia to sell. A game can be half-assed but gamers everywhere will scarf it up just because it has intrinsic gameplay or visual qualities that remind us of fun times from our childhood. What’s unique about Drinkbox’s Guacamelee! (exclamation point mandatory) is that it draws upon the same nostalgic power while being a whole new IP at the same time. And also, it’s a pretty damn good game.

You play as Juan, a lowly farmer-turned-superhero mexican luchador. You set out to rescue your sweetheart from the clutches of an evil undead skeleton named Carlos. You really can’t make this shit up.

The game is a side-scrolling romp in the  ‘Metrodvania’ school of thought. You can go anywhere you want in the world but some areas are locked out until you get certain abilities and/or items to get to it.

Good Points:

  • It’s hilarious. References to video game history and internet memes are fun and amusing. There’s a wrestler named “Nino de Carne” who looks like Super Meatboy, a tag-team named “Los Super Hermanos”, and a store that sells “Viva Pinatas”, among other things.
  • It’s Metroidvania done right. You gain abilities and moves which are not just fun to use, but is also integral to your progression. There are enemies that you won’t be able to kill until you learn a certain move. The flow of traversing the game world blends with the simple but extremely addictive combat system.
  • Platforming. Wall bounces and double jumps, block-breaking and more. Exploring the map can be very challenging and rewarding.
  • Good Value. At just $15 (I got it for $11 with the recent PSN sale), you get both the PS3 and the Vita game. Well worth it, in my opinion.
It’s a 2 on 1 handicap match with Los Super Hermanos!

Bad Points:

  • Game is kinda short. I finished it in just about 5 hours. Though them completionists could squeeze more out of it, I’m sure.
  • Difficulty spikes. You are breezing through one part of the game then it throws you something that’s disgustingly frustrating. Challenges can be too twitch-based.
  • Controls aren’t as responsive as I would like them to be. It sucks when you have to re-do a whole platforming sequence because the button press had an itsy-bitsy delay.
Beware of the Casa Crashers!

Things That Can Swing Either Way:

  • The excessive use of internet/video game memes might be generally amusing but I can see people being irritated by this.
  • The art-style. In my opinion the art direction complements the theme of the game but some might say it looks like a cheap flash game.

In Closing:

Guacamelee! is a game I would want to replay when I have the time. That’s saying something from someone like me who has a stacked backlog of games. It’s a very polished release and a great addition to the PSN library.

Guacamelee! is available exclusively on the PlayStation Store for $14.99. Purchase entitles you to both the PS3 and the PS Vita versions.