Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 18.01.2019

Review for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Nintendo Switch

When El President's daughter is kidnapped by the dastardly Carlos Calaca, Juan Aguacate has no choice but to don the mask of the revered Luchador and embark on a Metroidvania adventure to save the woman he loves. Rooted in a traditional Mexican folklore aesthetic with an in-depth combat system that puts just about every other entry in the genre to shame, Guacamelee! released to critical acclaim back in 2013, and is now back five years later to grace the Nintendo Switch with its presence. Although its sequel improves upon it in just about every sense, Guacamelee! manages to hold up relatively well.

Good game design will be good forever, but it can be difficult to see that when a sequel so readily improves upon its predecessor. Guacamelee! 2 improves on just about every facet of the original, featuring a far stronger script, tighter level design, and an enhanced combat system with a better sense of progression. At the same time, the original Guacamelee! is by no means a bad game. Is it worse? Yes, quite plainly, but is still stands with plenty merit of its own. Even now, knowing just what the franchise is capable of accomplishing, there is still much to appreciate about Juan's first outing. There is a certain charm, a simple desire to do well, that looms over the entire adventure.

Occasionally, said desire results in a script that relies too much on memes that were already dated in 2013, but more often than not, the desire to be a strong Metroidvania results in just that: an action-adventure/platformer with legs of its own, intent on establishing a unique identity in the ever growing genre. What separates DrinkBox Studios' first foray into Lucha Libre from other Metroidvanias is the sheer amount of emphasis placed on combat. More often than not, the genre is one that struggles with finding a balance between a healthy skill floor, and a skill ceiling. Where other titles nonetheless manage to craft stable gameplay loops, primarily through RPG elements and a focus given to finding equipment, Guacamelee! thrives on Juan's latent abilities.

Screenshot for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Nintendo Switch

As the adventure progresses, each battle ensures a mastery of Juan's skill set. Whether it'll be through chaining combos or using the right skill against appropriately color coded enemies, fights happen fast and with a hectic fervor. Although the most challenging encounters are reserved behind optional content, the difficulty scale does encourage smart, fast, and strategic play all the way to the final encounter with Carlos Calaca. This is to say nothing of how well the battle system transitions into platforming. When Juan is not embodying the spirit of Lucha Libre, he is traversing across the aesthetical beautiful landscapes of Mexico. Transitioning between both the land of the living and the dead, platforming ends up playing a rather large role, more so than other Metroidvanias.

As Juan's skills typically involve some sense of either verticality of manoeuvrability, they are naturally implemented into the overall design of each major area. Whether this means making Juan uppercut to get to a higher ledge, or simply punch his way across a narrow gap, what a player learns through combat ends up playing a pivotal role in how they interact with the overall world. Secrets are plentiful, as to be expected from the genre, so exploration is encouraged quite a great deal. Some challenges are more trouble than they are perhaps worth, but not a moment goes by without Juan stumbling upon either a stamina or health upgrade, largely due to the title's fast pacing.

Unfortunately, said pacing does result in a rather short playtime even taking into considering the additions made to Super Turbo Championship Edition, all of which are already included on the Nintendo Switch port. Worse yet, for as well structured as the difficulty is for most of the adventure, it does fall off by the very end, ending much easier than it began. Regardless, side content does help pick up the slack and co-op play works surprisingly well without cannibalizing the experience. Guacamelee! is not as strong a title as its successor, but that does not mean it should be dismissed. After all, it laid the very foundation necessary for its sequel to succeed as well it did. Short, sweet, and packing quite the punch, every Switch owner owes it to themselves to play through Guacamelee!

Screenshot for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

A love letter to all things videogame, Guacamelee! is a fantastic blend of homage and originality, resulting in a wildly memorable, if a bit short, Metroidvania. From the title's tight platforming-heavy level design, to its skill based combat, there is never a dull moment in Juan's quest to save El Presidente's daughter. Although the script does rely on out of place humour perhaps too often, and the general difficulty does take a hit near the end, this makes for a fantastic experience from start to finish, with plenty to love and admire. Best of all, at no point in its quest to pay tribute to the legends that came before it does this title forget to craft an identity of its own, elevating the title to the same level as the ones that inspired it.

Developer

DrinkBox

Publisher

DrinkBox

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   

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