Guacamelee! is a game you should play, I already said as much when it was first released on the PS3 the better part of a year ago, and I’ve been singing its praises ever since. If you’ve never played it on either the PS3, Vita or PC you’ve now got no excuses as the game makes its way to WiiU, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One (its free with game’s with gold this month to boot)
It would have been easy for Drinkbox to simply port Guacamelee! to other consoles, chuck in the previously released DLC and called it a day, instead they’ve completely reworked the game, extending it by several hours, seamlessly integrating all new areas, enemies, abilities and a brilliant new boss to fight.
The most substantial addition to the game is the two new areas that have been shoehorned into the main campaign. The first additional area appears about a third of the way through the game when you’re tasked with following Flame Face (The Drunken Ghost Rider impersonator) into the Desierto Caliente, instead of wandering right into the desert after him, the crazy bastard blocks your path out of town creating a landslide, this forces Juan to instead take a detour through the first additional area, the Canal de las Flores (Canal of Flowers). The bulk of this first area consists of taking a ride up stream on a canal boat whilst wave after wave of increasingly aggressive enemies assail the boat and disrupt your otherwise pleasant cruise. It’s not that complex but still a hell of a lot of fun.
After booting a lot of skeletons into the river you’ll find yourself at a Pompeii-esque fishing town at the foot of the Pico de Gallo volcano full of interesting new characters that expands the game’s back story by shedding more light on Juan’s mysterious companion, Tostada. You’re then introduced the games new boss, the conjoined mariachi band known as El Trio de la Muerte (The Trio of Death), who has been providing Calaca with troops for his skeletal army.
The second area, the aforementioned Pico de Gallo Volcano is accessed after another landslide stops you from climbing the mountain to the Great temple forcing you instead to head inside the volcano, which is now being used as a factory to produce the hordes of skeletal warriors that have invaded the world of the living.
Like the Canal de las Flores, Pico de Gallo does a wonderful job of expanding the lore of the game by explaining how Calaca has created the huge army or skeletal warriors that have invaded the world of the living. It’s also home to some of the most inventive platforming sections in the entire game in which you have to switch between the living and dead realms in order to cool constantly shifting pillars of lava in order to create new scalable walls and platforms.
After battling your way through the volcano you’ll finally catch up with El Trio Del Muerte and fight what is arguably the best boss fight in the game, as the conjoined mariachi band use their musical talents and shape shifting abilities to assault Juan in a multi tiered battle which is as hilarious as it is challenging.
Along with new bosses and areas, the game also supports new elite versions of many of the games standard enemies that not only hit harder and move faster, but are also capable of teleporting out of trouble, making them much harder to juggle than a standard enemy. The addition of these gits makes the final push towards Calaca all the harder as most standard enemies have been replaced with elites and it wasn’t that easy to begin with.
You’ll be happy to hear that Juan has also gotten stronger since last year, As well as the throwing mechanics being tweaked to make them more accurate and fluid. Juan and Tostada also have several new abilities including the intriguing Shadow Step, The Pollo Bomb and game changing Intenso mode, (Probably thanks to this guy). Once you have filled the new Intenso meter situated under your health meter by either collecting orbs from new lightly coloured barrels and building up combo. Intenso can then be activated by clicking both the thumb sticks, and acts very much like your a-typical rage mode, by greatly increasing your attack power and replenishing a small portion of your health. The effects of Intenso can also be upgraded to include automatic shield smashing and health regeneration so long as it is activated. It lasts for as long as you can keep attacking enemies. As such, it’s really useful for getting Juan out of tough spots and makes the final fight against Calaca more Bearable.
Your Intenso meter can also be extended the same as your health and stamina can by collecting three pieces of a medallion found in white Intenso chests..
There have also been minor changes to the way upgrades work as now, abilities and costumes are unlocked using independent currencies. Pesos are still used for the majority of basic health and attack upgrades, but the game’s additional costumes, including everything from the previously released costume pack, and a couple more besides, are unlocked using pieces of Silver.
The only question left is what version to get as, to be honest, they all have their benefits. The PS4 and Xbox One versions are in 1080p and do look a little crisper than their Xbox 360 and WiiU counterparts. It’s also currently free to Xbox One owners as part of games with Gold for the next couple of weeks.
However, from a functional perspective the game is best played on WiiU and simply feels most at home on the machine, especially considering the sheer amount of Nintendo related references and easter eggs peppered throughout the game. One boss is killed exactly in the same manner as Bowser is in the original Super Mario Bros and the game even apes some progressions from classic Nintendo tunes in its soundtrack.
The gamepad is also integrated very well with all of the standard features owners of the console have some to expect including the game’s map being displayed on the gamepad screen and controllable via touch controls, as well as off TV play at the touch of a button.
The only minor drawback is that you can only use a Gamepad Pro if you are controlling Tostada. It’s not the end of the world but for games that demand any kind of precision in control I generally prefer it over the standard pad.
Not only is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition the definitive version of a game that was pretty much perfect to begin with, but it’s myriad of clever tweaks, improvements and additional content make it feel fresh again even for veterans of the PS3 original.
If you’ve never played it before, as I said earlier you have no excuse. If you’ve played it before, know that this is far more than a simple port and sits proudly as one of the finest downloadable titles available on whatever platform you decide to play it on.