Last year, Drinkbox Studios released Guacamelee on an unsuspecting gaming community. It wasn’t just The Digital Fix who were impressed by the game’s addictive gameplay, vibrant graphics and parodical humour. Guacamelee received universal acclaim, deservedly scooping up a number of awards in the process and for many was certainly one of the best games of 2013.
Having graduated through the now lightweight PlayStation 3 and Vita ranks, developer Drinkbox Studios are now ready to take on the next-gen big leagues with Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. Not only is this the best-looking version of the game to date, but this all-encompassing package also includes all downloadable content, tweaks to the gameplay and a whopping 30% more content than the original version. This updated, nay definitive version of the game is bursting at the seams, making it an essential purchase, even if you’ve played it before already -¡Ay, caramba!
For anyone who missed this gem the first time around, then we’ll give you the basics, while you hang your head in shame. Guacamelee tells the tale of Juan, a humble, somewhat clumsy farmer who becomes a superhero when the love of his life, El Presidente’s daughter, is kidnapped by the evil charro skeleton Carlos. Upon learning that Carlos intends on bridging the worlds of the living and the dead through human sacrifice, Juan is given a magical luchador mask by the mysterious spirit Tostada and tasked with saving the world.
The gameplay is a fitting tribute to the dying art form that is the 2D Metroidvania sub-genre. Rather than using spooky old castles or distant alien worlds, Guacamelee takes Juan from his quaint Mexican village to barren desierto, high climbing sierra and through a number of claustrophobic temples. The game uses the vibrancy of the Mexican dia de los muertos backdrop to create a rich and stunning world that’s never a chore to explore. Not all paths will be open at the beginning, so throughout the game there are a number of new abilities to learn in order to remove any obstacles that may block your way. These consist of flaming uppercuts, body slams and of course (in true Metroidvania tradition) the elusive double-jump. You can even turn into a chicken at one point, demonstrating how the game uses humour, even within the gameplay mechanics.
This new edition of the game opens up the existing map further with an additional two new areas to discover. Canal de las Floras is a beautiful watery bayou, complete with a spooky boat ride and a bustling new town at its epicentre. Just like other populated areas in the game, this town comes complete with plenty of eccentric, demanding residents. Naturally, they all have something to say, with some even offering up a few side quests that can be completed in the name of earning some extra chunks of life or stamina. The other new area is the much more action-packed volcanic Pico de Gallo region, a location that not only reveals a little more backstory behind the game’s cast of villains, but also brings a brilliant new boss into the mix.
Pico de Gallo is home to El Trio De La Muerte, an undead mariachi band who are quite literally joined at the hip. They’re in charge of creating new undead creatures to throw at Juan, so in keeping with this subplot, STCE introduces a few remixed variations of Guacamelee’s already colourful roster of villains. The trio themselves make for a brilliantly entertaining boss battle, even casting a shadow on some of the original boss characters from the original game.
Thankfully, Juan also has a few new tricks up his sleeve to help him combat these new enemies. In addition, tweaking some of the issues that were raised after the game was initially released last year, Drinkbox have also added the new Intenso mechanic to Juan’s library of signature moves. On the same spectrum as a berserker rage or going super saiyan, Juan has the ability to hulk out after building up enough momentum through combos. Not only does this revive his health, but it also means that each punch, kick, grapple and throw becomes even more deadlier than it was before. It comes in handy when in tight spots and essentially levels the playing field in parts of the game that had previously been criticised before for being too hard.
If that weren’t enough, all the downloadable content is also included in the package, which means there are a few extra costumes available if you get bored of looking at Juan’s muscular physique. These aren’t just cosmetic changes however, as the costumes can benefit Juan’s stamina, health or his Intenso ability. Unlocking them all becomes another challenge in the game, as they can be pretty useful against some of the game’s tougher bosses. It also makes the already existing multiplayer even meatier, with plenty for you and a friend to do, as they can choose to drop-in-drop-out at anytime and take control of Juan’s ally Tostado.
What makes all of this additional content such a treat to play is that at no point does it feel wedged in. It would have been easier for Drinkbox to simply tack on an extra level at the end, so it just shows how much work and effort has gone into making Guacamelee and it’s subsequent expanded re-release. For anyone who has played the original game, finding these new areas is both surprising yet seamless, turning up during the main storyline as if they’d always existed. If that wasn’t enough, the jump to next-gen hardware makes this already vibrant 2D platformer look sharper and even more defined than a wrestler’s pecs.
In fact the only criticism one could have is that there just isn’t enough. Even with the extra content, the game can be 100% completed within six to eight hours and still leave you wanting more. However, given that there are many less entertaining full price titles which are guilty of short campaigns, then it serves to prove that this is an indie game of the highest quality. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition doesn’t just defend its title, it also takes this fantastic game up a weight class, making this the definitive version of the game, that’s totally worth playing through just Juan more time.