Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (Wii U) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 09.08.2014 2

Review for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Wii U

The "Metroidvania" moniker has been used quite liberally over the past few years. Indeed, in the absence of true 2D contenders to the title from the nominative franchises, both on Nintendo and Konami's part, there's an apparent void on the market for developers to take advantage of and try to cater to that crowd, nostalgic of these two franchises and hungry for more of it. However, many self-proclaimed Metroidvanias did not really manage to reproduce faithfully the recipe and ended up straying so far into other territories that the end result, despite being labelled as such, had little to do with what makes the core of a true Metroidvania. There have been a few ones, though, many of which came from indies, and we're witnessing at last a true resurgence of the genre through download platforms, such as the beloved Wii U eShop. Guacamelee! is one of them, first released solely on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, and later ported to the PC and pretty much all of the current generation of home consoles, in a version subtitled "Super Turbo Championship Edition," a clear nod to (or poking fun at, rather) all the superlatives attached to certain series' names, the most obvious of which is the Street Fighter franchise, which saw all three of these attached in its existence. It is now time to dive into the Wii U eShop release of this recent attempt at a Metroidvania to see if it's worthy of the title.

For one thing, as the game opens on the hero, Juan, a peasant of the Mexican countryside, it is obvious that the tone and setting of the game is not something that's seen very much in games. No space station, no castle infested with evil bats and ghouls, no far away planet, no science fiction or horror setting, but rather a very Mexican looking and sounding game world, the likes of which are only few and far between in video games. Lucas Arts' Grim Fandango comes to mind - the remake of which was announced at E3 2014 - but that was many years ago. This one here actually follows a similar kind of idea, as both games take place on the Día de Muertos, and involve passage between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead.

Juan Aguacate is a farmer, and grew up with the daughter of El Presidente. Both now evolve in completely different spheres of society, yet the rich woman still holds some feelings for her childhood friend who is now a fully grown, muscular man. Just as El Presidente's daughter is back in town for the celebration of the Día de Muertos, however, she gets abducted by a skeletal malevolent man from the Land of the Dead, named Carlos Calaca, who used to be a Charro when he was alive. He has a purpose for her, in addition to marrying her because she's such a beautiful woman - plans which only get unveiled as the game unfolds and conversations between Calaca and his minions occur before the player's eyes. Indeed, in a kind of Castlevania-ish way, there are quite a lot of scenes with dialogue in the game, which serve multiple purposes.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Wii U

Not only do they help move the plot forward, they also give indication to the player as to where he's supposed to go next, and last but certainly not least, they help giving the game a lot of its personality through lots and lots of humour. The text is not the only area where humour is present, either, as a lot of references to movies and video games are spread throughout the game in many forms - some very subtle and others quite obvious to spot - and they all contribute to an overall very funny atmosphere which will keep the player coming back for more. The whole adventure is presented as a side-scrolling 2D adventure game with quite a big emphasis put on exploration. True, the player is told where to go next, in a very similar fashion to Metroid: Zero Mission, but as the quest for saving the beauty unfolds, many unreachable areas can be spotted which will have to be further investigated later on as new powers are acquired, which is already a good indication that we are indeed in the presence of a true Metroidvania type of game. Said powers are actually contained inside "Choozo" statues, which, other than bearing almost exactly the same name, look completely identical to the "Chozo" statues found in 2D Metroid games. Furthermore, again in a similar way to what would be found in a Metroid title, the hero soon gains the power to squeeze through tight spaces like Samus would in morph ball form, except that Juan transforms into a pollo. Yes... a chicken... As was previously mentioned, the game has a lot of humour thrown in absolutely everywhere.

A definitive point of departure from the Metroid series, however, is in the gameplay. Juan becomes a luchador soon after the start of the game, and battling foes encountered throughout the in-game world is done by using wrestling moves.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Wii U

These are actually performed on the game controller in a way which is pretty much identical to how a character from Super Smash Bros. would control. The Y button performs regular attacks while the A button, combined to a direction on the D-pad or control stick perform special, more powerful attacks, and correspond to the aforementioned powers which have to be obtained for certain areas to become reachable. Indeed, these moves are not solely for battling foes, as much as they are also required to break certain types of blocks restricting access to certain parts of the game... and for the platforming parts of the game, as well! One thing to note is that, contrary to what one would find in Metroid or Castlevania, battles against foes cannot be avoided completely to go faster, as Juan gets trapped inside certain rooms on a regular basis and has to defeat all enemies on screen in order to move on. It's part of the game's design but it did make the repetitiveness of the battles early on that more noticeable. Indeed, since not all combat moves are available from the start, the move set in the beginning is very limited, and this further contributes to the early tediousness, especially as there aren't many types of enemies to fight against at the beginning. This, however, gets better as soon as Juan's set of techniques broadens and more varied enemies start appearing, making battles much more fun.

Another defining aspect of Guacamelee! has to be the focus on challenging platforming sequences. The gameplay does indeed involve a lot of different types of actions, such has dodging and switching instantly between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead to make walls, obstacles and platforms only visible in one appear or disappear to move forward through certain rooms.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Wii U

Absolutely every button of the GamePad or Wii U Pro Controller is used here, which does make controlling things an exercise in concentration and dexterity, especially at first, but the challenge is never too frustrating, either, and just a couple of attempts should be enough to get through absolutely all of the compulsory parts of the game to get to the end. The many save points throughout ensure that death is never tremendously punishing. The same cannot be said, however, to reach 100% completion, as this will definitely require mastering the complex, yet brilliantly executed controls.

Achieving everything in the game is done by completing side-quests for in-game characters, as well as certain challenges, but mostly by finding and opening each and every hidden treasure chest, some of which are either well concealed within a wall, and others not so much hidden as they are rather made purposely hard to reach by the layout of the room in which it was placed by the designers. In addition to this, there are a handful of unlockables within the game, in the form of costumes, which have to be purchased using a rare in-game currency, and which give a boost to one of Juan's abilities while inflicting a negative effect in another area, in counterpart.

Last but not least, Guacamelee! is a very rare case of a Metroidvania allowing two players to tackle the adventure simultaneously, although this is not all too well executed and the core of the experience is largely to be found in solo play. The effort on the developer's part is, nevertheless, appreciable.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is a well put together piece of software with a great attention to little details, set in a universe of folklore and culture which is exotic enough in the video game industry to feel highly original, and with a huge deal of humour thrown into the mix for good measure. The tough to master yet easy to understand gameplay, coupled with the many challenges to overcome to fully complete everything do extend the play life into "decent" territory, as it is otherwise a rather short experience for those who will rush through it. Guacamelee! clearly takes a leaf out of a lot of different books in gaming, Metroid being the most obvious, but Castlevania, Megaman, and Zelda are also other clear sources of inspiration, yet it manages to blend it all into what is now its own thing. It sure bases a lot of its appeal on nostalgia for those other franchises and the crowd of references to them thrown all over the place, but this never overshadows its own intrinsic qualities, which are clever design, good production values, great writing and, most of all, a clear love for video games from its creators, which does transpire through their work. Guacamelee! STCE for the Wii U eShop is certainly not a perfect game - it has its couple of minor faults - but never are they detrimental to the overall experience, and this is still a must-have for any fan of the genre.






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


Love this game but it gets crazy hard in places Smilie

The whole flitting between the living / dead realm to make platforms appear climbing that tree started to make my head hurt after a while ...

Our member of the week

FiDRoC said:
Love this game but it gets crazy hard in places Smilie

The whole flitting between the living / dead realm to make platforms appear climbing that tree started to make my head hurt after a while ...

Yeah I know the feeling. Some challenges in El Infierno were also crazy to get the gold medal on.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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