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Guacamelee Review

Drinkbox Studios have already created two must have titles for the PlayStation Store and now moving away from their Tales from Space: Blob games their focus is now set on the world of Mexican Wrestling.

Taking their signature graphical flair seen in their previous games, Guacamelee! transports us to the village of Puelblucho, where our hero to be, Juan is a little down on his luck, left cleaning the village church in preparation for the big visit by El Presidente and his daughter. Disaster strikes as the Evil Charro kidnaps El Presidente's daughter and leaves Juan for dead. Left to wander the World of the Dead, Juan is presented with a mystical wrestler mask, finally becoming a Luchador, tasked with saving not only El Presidente's daughter but the villagers who have also fled the scene.

For the older gamers among you the gameplay is very similar to the old Castlevania/Metroid games, more recently referred to as Metroidvania, a platform game set in a huge world that gradually opens up to you as you earn new special moves to negotiate puzzles and platforms. That's the best way to describe Guacamelee!, with Juan the Luchador traversing this huge Mexican themed world, negotiating volcanoes, deserts, forests, temples and even visiting other villages. Initially there will be many impassable ravines or blocked passages, forcing you to take a different approach but as you progress through the game, more powers become available to you, opening up this fantastic world.

With your new wrestling mask there is an abundance of moves to find and master, some hidden away, others you can purchase. Starting with basic punches and grapples, Juan can create small combos, weakening the enemies until he can grapple and throw them, often using fallen enemies as a projectile to help control the room. His moves can be upgraded via a shop that appears all over the world, allowing you to purchase extra grapple moves like a suplex or piledriver. The wrestling moves not only allow for a plethora of spine breaking throws and punches but are also used for problem solving; some can destroy certain blocks like the Frog Slam which is able to break green blocks whilst others can be used to reach obstacles, like the Rooster Uppercut also operating like a double jump. All of these moves can be used to take care of a decent roster of enemies, from poncho wearing skeletons, killer cacti and rampaging spiked armadillos.

Later in the game enemies also become shielded, covered in a colour coded shell that you must first destroy with the correct special move before dishing out any damage. Up until this point the melee aspect of the combat works really well, but at times the game can throw far too many enemies at you, so when dealing with multiple shielded baddies on screen, the difficulty does increase sharply and getting your fingers all tied up with the numerous button combos required to pull off the moves. It is here and on the boss battles that you will die quite a bit, though in the games defence, the continue point is never far away, either at the last shop save point or well check pointed mid battle against a boss. As Juan meets a strange collection of Mexican underworld figures he will earn slightly weirder powers to assist, again mainly used to negotiate the world, the first being Pollo Power, transforming Juan into a small chicken that can then run through small gaps and later the power to switch instantly between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead.

Apart from doubling up on the worlds you can adventure through there are many other uses of this power, with certain enemies inhabiting the opposite side, they can damage you but you can't do anything until you swap to the correct Land. This switch power is also used in even more puzzles, with platforms only usable when you switch sides, a clever idea but it becomes a nightmare later on with numerous wall jumps and world switches, though again in to be fair even if you die falling into a pit of acid, the game will quick start you immediately on the last piece of solid ground you were on.

The overall theme of Mexican Wrestling plays through the whole game, with Drinkbox's signature style of humour being ever apparent in the game, from obvious visuals, sight gags and a snappy script all the way through to a countless amount of nods to other games, albeit with a Mexican Wrestling theme, like posters advertising certain cult favourites.

Getting more for your money is always nice, with Drinkbox sweetening the deal with numerous PS3/Vita cross play options, allowing both enjoying the game and also participating in co-op action or using the Vita as a controller and second screen, showing the game map.

With just the one technical glitch that occurred through game, a wall not disappearing and not letting me proceed it's a solid game, especially since restarting only took me back to the previous area so no real drama. Guacamelee! is yet another success for Drinkbox, creating a low cost but equally great fun to play game that harkens back to the golden age of gaming.


- Great sense of humour
- Original take on the Metroidvania style by including wrestling moves.
- Local co-op


- Difficulty can leap at times

Edited On 17 Apr, 2013

( 2 )
troublemaker's avatar
troublemaker 4 years ago
Seems like a fun, solid game. Spotted it on the store when I was on there today too. Like the vita/crossbuy and crossplay type stuff too. May have to pick this up. Cool review.
Datastatic's avatar
Datastatic 4 years ago
Its good, but can get way tricky. The music is great though.

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