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Guacamelee! Review

Guacamelee! Review

In a world where Luchadors are seen as some of the toughest people around, Guacamelee looks to bring the sidescrolling beat em up back to our screens through its vibrant environments, over the top gameplay and interesting yet unique mechanics. It also seems to be one of the few titles from Sony which makes good use of its cross over feature, so does the underdog title Gucamelee fulfill its role and come out as one of Sony’s best exclusives? Or will it sit in the shadows of bigger titles to be released?

So a simple farm man called Juan Aguacate gets pulled into the exciting and over the top world of the Luchadors after his childhood friend, who just so happens to be the president’s daughter is kidnapped by Carlos Calaca, an evil entity from The World of the Dead who wishes to take her as his queen and merge both the Living and Dead World together.

Yep... living the life!
After a confrontation with Calaca at the President’s Mansion, Juan is easily defeated and sent to The World of the Dead where he meets Tostada, guardian of the mask. After the legendary mask decides to reveal itself to Juan, Tostada bestows the mask to him in which Juan is given the power to return to The World of the Living. Now Juan looks to not only save the president’s daughter but also the world from Calaca’s evil clutches.

While Guacamelee’s general narrative could have had a lot more added to it, it’s the simplicity and the fact that it has no plot holes which makes it a good ride from beginning to end. Another factor that makes the story interesting is the sometimes out of place characters you meet along the way, bringing with them their own hilarious lines and making them great to watch. As mentioned earlier, the narrative is put together pretty tightly while at the same time having a good sense of progression and flow.

Guacamelee’s combat involves a variety of punches, kicks and grapples which can be linked together to create some crazy combos both on the ground and in the air, however along with this are the more special moves which do increased damage but are limited in use due to it depleting your yellow energy boxes at the top, also if used too much, the character becomes tired and it becomes unavailable for a short while. At the beginning you only have a few moves but as you go throughout the game, you pick up new skills along with the ability to buy new ones with the gold you pick up along the way.

While you do have the option to constantly go in and mash the attack button, the game also allows you to defend yourself in the form of a roll on the ground and a defence stance when doing it in the air. This allows you to take a certain amount of damage however it can become difficult to control when you have several enemies attacking you at once, therefore making it a little more challenging to time each attack thrown your way.

The AI themselves are not too difficult to take down, even on hard mode however as mentioned before, it does become challenging when there are more than one of them on screen. It becomes even more difficult if your fighting a specific set of enemies in which one’s weakness is made up for by the others strength however once you get your timing down, it’s more than accomplishable. The bosses themselves are different in this case and can become difficult to their unpredictability, yes they use a certain amount of moves however the order they use them in is not set in stone therefore constantly keeping the player on their feet.

The other aspect of Guacamelee is its platforming segments which in general do take up the majority of the game. While the general jumping from platform to platform is still there, there is one mechanic that lets Guacamelee become more creative in that part, especially when dealing with areas which require more thought and that’s the ability to switch between The World of The Living and The World of The Dead.

This feature gives Drinkbox the chance to create some truly challenging platforming segments which require you to switch between the two worlds, sometimes even while you are in mid air making for some satisfying and frustrating moments. While the initial power is something that you’ll gain later in the game, you initially switch between the two through the use of blue and orange portals which is a cool kind of reference to the Portal series. It doesn't end there however as at times, you’re also required to use the special moves meant for combat in order to get past certain areas, it really makes a good impression that almost nothing in the game becomes useless and you essentially need to make use of all of your tools in order to advance.

A look at the difference between The World of the Living and Dead.
Overall I felt that the platforming segments where interesting enough to keep my attention but also offer that challenge which improves upon the standard jump, jump, and jump. I believe the turning point was the introduction of switching between The World of The Living and The World of The Dead which made for some unique and fun platforming/ puzzle segments.

One of the big and probably most useful features for Guacamelee is the ability to use cross over with both the game saves and general game functionality. This allows you to upload your save from the PlayStation 3 version and download it on to the PlayStation Vita to carry on the game portably; this also works the other way around. Other ways this functionality comes handy is using the PlayStation Vita as a controller to play with someone on console (local only) or using the Vita as a map while the main game is on the PS3.

Graphics/ Sound
Guacamelee’s Mexican theme is the main focus when looking at the game’s visuals, which presents us with an art style that is both bold and bright through its use of colours. While not all the environments fit to my taste, some of the more open ones such as the Agave Field and Sierra Mountains makes good use of the multi levels in the background and allows areas to stand out more, giving a good sense of depth to the environment. Another cool thing found in Guacamelee is the amazing amount of internet meme and videogame references such as Zelda, Castle Crashers, Mega Man and the Grumpy Cat. I thought the character designs were interesting and distinct enough from each other that you didn't have several people looking the same; even the NPC’s found around the game world don’t look identical to each other.

Oh the cool and amazing references!
The visuals are not the only part of the game which have adapted the Mexican theme but it seems the background tracks has done this too, however it manages to find the right balance and still keep it epic. This is done by using other genre’s such as techno in their tracks but at the same time, subtly going back and forth from the Mexican sounds. One way sound is used well in the game is when switching between The Living and Dead Worlds. In The Living World, you’re presented with background music that suits it giving a sense of joy and life. In The Dead World, the music changes to give a more spooky and rejected atmosphere.

Final Verdict
Guacamelee! is a fun, enjoyable title that clearly shows the PlayStation Vita can produce some good games. The functionality between it and its older brother, the PlayStation 3 is spot on and I never experienced any problems when playing using both. Guacamelee looks to be one of those hidden gems thats a great experience from beginning to end, so I encourage players to give this awesome title a run.

Story = 9.5/10
Gameplay = 10/10
Graphics = 10/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 9.8/10
Had a chance to play the game? Maybe you have a different opinion? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet me - @WKG_Liban

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