Guacamelee! 2 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 25.12.2018

Review for Guacamelee! 2 on Nintendo Switch

Metroidvanias: when they are well done, they have the potential to be works of wonder. The combination of varied gameplay, promised by a plethora of skill upgrades opening up the possibilities of additional exploration, coupled with a relatively open-ended map design, tends to lend itself well to great experiences. However, the numerous pitfalls that developers could fall into while developing these can really make or break the experience. Drinkbox Studios have proven themselves in that area with the original Guacamelee!. The Wii U version of that first game, dubbed Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, was indeed very favourably received back in 2014, and this one has since even been ported to the Nintendo Switch for those who missed it. It is therefore with great delight that Cubed3 dives into Guacamelee! 2.

The events of Guacamelee! 2 pick up exactly where the previous story ended, in a barely disguised nod to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. In that intro, the player is tasked with going through the same final battle again as in the previous game, albeit easier, after a dialogue sequence that quotes almost word for word the infamous intro of the aforementioned Konami title. Juan, the protagonist of this game and its predecessor, gets transported to an alternate timeline called the "Darkest Timeline" in which he, himself, died at the hands of Calaca at the end of the original, the latter being defeated instead by the aptly named Salvador ("Saviour" in Spanish). Salvador however, as it turns out, is not the holy saviour the Mexiverse deserves, as he has now grown corrupted by the power of the Luchador mask he wears.

Salvador now intends to use three sacred artefacts bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Triforce to open the gate to El Otromundo (The "Other" World), where all timelines are said to be connected, but more importantly where the sacred Guacamole is said to be contained. The latter is supposed to allow him to unleash the full power of Luchador to become the strongest there has ever been in the entire Mexiverse. Opening that gate, however, has the unfortunate consequence of causing dimensional rips that start tearing the realm apart, affecting all the alternate timelines. Juan is dead in all timelines, but the one in which the previous game ended, thus Uay Chivo from the Darkest Timeline comes to requisition Juan's strength, once again to save all timelines from being swallowed up by the dimensional distortions. Seven years have passed however since his victory over Calaca, and Juan is all but retired from the Lucha Libre business.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! 2 on Nintendo Switch

He got married to Lupita, has two children now, and has grown quite the middle aged, married man's belly. He will have to learn every move he had in the first game all over again, plus some extras if he wants to save the Mexiverse from a far more formidable foe. Overall, this is structured much like the previous title, with the same map system being reused, which isn't a bad thing since it was already so well done to begin with. This helps to keep perfectly track of what has already accomplished, but more importantly of areas that need to be revisited after acquiring certain special abilities that open up the game world. The player should never feel lost even if the last directions uttered by NPCs were forgotten as there is always a marker on the map reminding of what the next destination is to keep moving the plot forward.

Like its predecessor, Guacamelee! 2 puts a heavy emphasis on careful manoeuvring of platforms and even walls to get past dangers, using absolutely every single button on a Switch Pro controller or JoyCon pair to do so. The challenges involve precise timing of each action Juan can perform including forward dash, uppercuts, head-butts, ground pounds and most importantly dimension shifting between the land of the dead and the land of the living, since certain obstacles or necessary platforms may, or may not exist. Things haven't changed much indeed, if only for the difficulty feeling ramped up an extra notch in certain spots. Some tough areas can be quite frustrating, to the point of being infuriating, but not because of bad game design, but instead because of how accurate and focused the player has to be to pull off the exact string of special abilities to overcome certain challenges.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! 2 on Nintendo Switch

The overall feel is that of an even richer world, populated by even more colourful characters - however, this is due in part to a lot of assets from the previous game being reused, such as most bosses or important antagonists of the previous instalment making a comeback as peaceful NPCs. This may sound like a cheap way to achieve it, but they were likeable enough to begin with, that they do not feel forced in at all, and since much of the action is confined to the Darkest Timeline, they're not exactly the same characters they were in the past either so this is all kept very interesting indeed by, again, clever writing. Plus, Guacamelee! 2 retains much of the humour of the first game, down to the fourth wall breaks, references to other games which are just as much of an attraction here as well as the usual meme references.

Some fun is even poked at the first game in places, but none of that will be spoiled here so as to keep the enjoyment of potential buyers intact. The writing is once again extremely good, and is where much of the fun to be had in Guacamelee! 2 lies, though the gameplay itself, coupled with the aforementioned challenges, are rewarding in equal measure. The adventure is not extremely long at roughly 14 to 15 hours to reach 100% completion, without factoring in the additional DLC area called 'The Proving Grounds,' or extra content such as the hard mode that unlocks after beating this on normal difficulty, or all the achievements to unlock for bragging rights only. The amount of content feels just right for the price asked, and packs enough punch and intensity to keep the player invested all the way to the end and leave them with a satisfying feeling of having tackled a good title.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! 2 on Nintendo Switch

The original could be tackled by two simultaneous players, which was already something unusual for a Metroidvania, but this one ups the ante by increasing players! This could not be fully tested for the sake of this review, but the addition of a second player can already make things feel a bit more crowded than they already were in the middle of a big brawl, the likes of which tend to come to break the flow exploration frequently, so it should mostly be considered an interesting concept but not the be-all, end-all of the experience though fans of Super Smash Bros. used to crowded fight scenes and able to keep track of their character in the middle of it all should find it perfectly manageable. Indeed, Lucha feels very similar to a Smash Bros. fight indeed.

This port to Nintendo Switch looks, plays, sounds and runs exactly as what you'd expect from previous incarnations on other platforms. 1080p60 in docked mode, and 720p60 in handheld mode, albeit with no visible anti-aliasing, are the norm here. The frame-rate remains steadily locked at 60fps save for exactly one intense exception towards the end of the game, in single player mode anyway, where it did show some signs of struggle due to the sheer amount of objects exploding on screen, but that is inconsequential to the overall experience which remains flawless. The visual style, as mentioned while reviewing the original on Wii U, is very reminiscent of the angular looking characters of the Samurai Jack cartoon, which may or may not please every player's taste but every character quickly becomes likeable thanks to the writing, regardless of their look.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! 2 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Guacamelee! 2 feels just as good as its predecessor overall. Some of the hardest sections can be even more frustrating than the hardest challenges found in the original, but this is somewhat counterbalanced by the fact that it does streamline a lot of things that were more complicated than they really needed to be. The adventure has the potential for replay value, especially with DLC, achievement and multiplayer for up to four players thrown into the mix. The Mexiverse certainly feels worthy of being saved, despite the sometimes infuriating challenge proposed by Guacamelee! 2, and fans of the Metroidvania genre in general, but fans of the original, in particular, should definitely check this one out.

Developer

DrinkBox

Publisher

DrinkBox

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

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 Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Insanoflex

There are 1 members online at the moment.