Super Guacamelee Review: Ole! Ole! Ole!
Super Guacamelee Turbo Championship Edition is one of the better 2D platformers you’ll play on a non-Nintendo console. Xbox and Playstation gamers can get in on the intense platforming fun but how does Drinkbox’s Lucha-infused adventure stand up against the finest 2D platformers on Wii U? The system is over-flowing with great platformers so Drinbox has significantly stiffer competition ahead of itself on Nintendo’s home console.
Fortunately Super Guacamelee has near flawless execution and a charming personality, the very things that draw Nintendo fans to the most popular first party platformers on the Wii U.
Super Guacamelee is essentially a Mexican-inspired Metroid game. Players control Juan Aguacate after his untimely death after Carlos Calca attacks his village and kidnaps El Presidente’s daughter who Juan has been in love with since childhood. Not one to take defeat easy, Juan comes back from the grave as a powerful Luchador with unique abilities like being able to turn into a chicken.
The chicken ability becomes available roughly half way through the game and does encourage some back tracking. You won’t have to do much back tracking throughout Super Guacamelee but using Pollo Power (what we’re calling the ability to transform into a chicken) adds a new layer to old parts of the game world.
For all intents and purposes, turning into a chicken is pretty much the same thing as when Samus turns into a morph ball in Metroid titles. It grants Juan access to areas he wouldn’t normally be able to get to and there are several small passages with Pollo written all over them for players to explore. Often these chicken passages lead to secrets and new abilities.
Juan gets new attacks and abilities over time and by finding Chozo-like statues that look like they were ripped out of a Metroid game. Some attacks not only deal out punishment for enemies but help Juan traverse Super Guacamelee’s well-designed stages.
While no single moment is ever that frustrating, Super Guacamelee will test your reflexes with tightly crafted levels. Enemy variety is pretty good and when enemies are re-hashed they have new twists like regenerating shields that are only break-able with specific attacks.
Top notch stage design doesn’t stop with the combat and enemies though, there are several areas that require precise button inputs to solve puzzles. In some sections Juan can cross over between the normal (light) world and the world of the dead (dark). In these parts there are typically platforms that only appear in one world or the other and Juan must jump between the two worlds at the right time to dying.
The level design is up there with recent greats like New Super Mario Bros U, Rayman Legends and Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze in terms of sheer quality. For platforming fans that alone would be enough to purchase the game but thankfully Drinkbox packed Juan’s adventure with a fun story, superb art and fantastic music.
The game’s story should be forgettable and filler but instead its a fun, light hearted tale with some great humor. You’ll enjoy running into random NPCs, each with something unique to say and some have enjoyable side quests for you to tackle. Guacamelee won’t win any awards for its story but its a really fun adventure with a tale that a tale that will grab your attention.
Guacamelee is filled with inside jokes and references to other games with pop culture references littered throughout. One moment you’ll be laughing at a sign that references the Super Mario Bros as “Super Hermanos”, the next you’re getting a chuckle from a modern pop culture joke involving Grammy winner Adele. Super Guacamelee has an abundance of easter eggs referencing other games with Donkey Kong, Castle Crashers, Mario Bros and Metroid being just a few of them.
The art style is one of the more impressive ones seen in the wave of indie platformers in recent years. Super Guacamelee may take inspiration from 90’s classics like Mario Bros and Metroid but it stands out visually. The Mexican style works fantastic in conjunction with the game’s characters and theme of redemption.
What makes Super Guacamelee different from the original game? It adds elite enemies who can teleport away from Juan’s attacks. These guys are much tougher and can be very frustrating so they feel a little bit like a chore and less like a new feature. There are two new sections for Juan to explore and even a brand new boss battle that will really test players’s ability to fight. The new Intenso meter allows Juan to deal more damage than usual so long as you keep performing combos to fill up the meter.
Super Guacamelee improves upon an already well-made package. It gives the game a little bit more length though your adventure will still be much shorter than you will want it to be by the time the credits roll. Gameplay is thoroughly satisfying with superb level design. A unique cast of characters mixes well with the clever art style, rounding out an inventive package with a charming identity that you’ll remember for a long time.
Super Guacamelee is a worthy revamp of one of the better 2D platformers in recent memory, even if it is still a little short. Wii U version provided by Drinkbox for this review.