The original Guacamelee! released last year, and it did pretty well for itself. With fast action and a great sense of humor, it was a great game for the PlayStation 3 and Vita. Fast forward to now, and developers Drinkbox Studios have graced us with Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition for the PlayStation 4. With a title like that, which is poking some obvious fun at a certain fighting game franchise developer, you know you’re in for some laughs. Is this latest release of the game worth your time if you bought the game on the previous platforms? Or should only newbies to the series pick this up? Let’s find out in our review.
If you are not familiar with the premise of GSTCE, you play as Juan, an agave farmer. The people in your town, and in fact everywhere that you travel, respect luchadors above all others. Luchadores are a type of wrestler, and are often seen as local heroes. While your character gives no indication that he wants to actually be a luchador at first, more information regarding this dream is shown later in the story. Juan is in love with the president’s daughter, whom he was childhood friends with.
GSTCE‘s story is pretty easy to follow — Carlos Calaca, an evil skeleton from the world of the dead, has tricked the Devil (El Diablo), and has taken over. He has teamed up with a sorceress, and is now attempting to merge the world of the living with that of the dead. Part of this process involves sacrificing the president’s daughter, something you are hell-bent on stopping. Armed with nothing but your unfit body, you give chase, but Calaca easily kills you instantly. When you wake up, you find yourself in the land of the dead, and within short order you find a legendary mask that transforms you into an ultra-powerful luchador.
If that story sounds familiar, it’s because it is largely unchanged from the original Guacamelee!. There’s tons of homages to other video games, such as the hilarious one seen above, and there are also references to gamer culture in general. Short of a couple of cut-scenes, GSTCE‘s core story isn’t touched much. Drinkbox Studios knows they already had a great story to tell, and they simply revised it here. The story centers around a subculture of Mexican society, and as many of the characters talk to you they use the occasional Spanish word, which adds to the game’s authenticity. A few odd typos still show up, but nothing to detract from the entertaining narrative that was already there. But this isn’t the area that received the most attention — that’d be the game’s combat.
While combat remains simple, you can ramp up impressive combos if you know what you are doing. You can still get through the game by mashing square and then grappling enemies with triangle, but it is much more fun to plan your attacks, like say taking down the flying enemies before tackling those on the ground, tossing one enemy into a group of others to knock them all down, or any other strategies you can cook up. New to your arsenal of moves is the Intenso mode. Now, as you perform combos, you fill up a secondary meter. Once it’s full, you press both analog sticks to activate your power. This instantly knocks down any nearby enemies, and enables you to inflict much more damage at a higher rate. You are not invincible during this mode, however, and can still take damage. If you can keep a combo going, you can extend this mode for much longer than would otherwise be possible.
The world of GSTCE feels lived-in by both the living and the dead, and while the game is only a 2D platformer, each level has plenty of depth, with parallax scrolling, hot desert suns, vast, open plains, dark, damp caverns, and more environments beautifully rendered to your television. Animal life is ever-present in the town, and there are a lot of NPCs to speak with who have nothing to do with the main story. Some of these characters will send you on side missions, which are completely optional but often result in a nice reward. GSTCE has an almost hand-drawn look to it, which fits the storyline and world that Drinkbox Studios wanted to create.
The PlayStation 4 has absolutely no problems running GSTCE. The game is buttery-smooth. Load times are practically non-existent, lasting no longer than 2 seconds between levels. No matter how many enemies the game throws at you at once (and it can be plenty!), the frame rate remains consistent throughout. Co-op is still supported on the same screen, which can make for some fun couch gameplay. The trackpad button is used to bring up the map, and the controller’s LED lights up in multiple colors when you receive a new power or earn new life or energy, which is a cool touch that is especially noticeable when playing in a darkened gaming space.
Ultimately, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is just like the original, with a couple of added tweaks — this is a good thing! If you’ve purchased the original, it can be a hard decision to purchase this. If you are a big fan of the series and cannot wait to pummel enemies in Intenso mode, then by all means pick this up. If you never played the original and enjoy Castlevania-like beat-em-ups, then definitely pick this up. If you love lucha libre lore, then of course pick this up. Finally, if you are a fan of funny games, then don’t hesitate to pick this game up and play!
A review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.