Graphics:
9.2
Gameplay:
8.8
Sound:
9.0
Control:
8.9
Replay Value:
9.1
Overall Rating:
9.0
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
Drinkbox, Activision
Developer:
Drinkbox Studios
Number Of Players:
1-2
Genre:
Action/Adventure
Release Date:
July 1, 2014


What do you get when you cross the old-school Metroid structure with a flamboyant, over-the-top Mexican theme? You get Guacamelee! If you missed out on last year’s excellent entry, you can always pick up the recently released upgraded version, dubbed the Super Turbo Championship Edition . As you might expect, the improvements simply make an already great game even better, so you’ve got no excuse to miss out this time. Even if you’re not into the whole “Luchadore” theme (and I’m not, either), the gameplay remains astoundingly awesome.

These colorful, vibrant graphics keep you ensconced in a world that’s just begging to be explored. The excellent attention to detail, from the stellar and often comical combat effects to the beautifully designed environment, makes Drinkbox Studios an elite developer. The visuals aren’t drastically updated but PlayStation 4 owners will still appreciate the bold strokes of color and the top-notch animations. This is one of those ultra-stable graphical presentations that remain downright gorgeous throughout.

As you might expect, the audio is peppered with a variety of amusing effects and voices, each of which are specifically designed to bolster player immersion. You have to believe you’re running about in a Mexican-themed Metroid of sorts, and the great sound reinforces the presentation with every step. A fitting and well-implemented soundtrack completes the attractive package, and you find yourself bouncing gleefully along, reveling in the sights and sounds. If you’re the type of gamer that gravitates toward unique atmospheres, this is for you.

One of the current buzz words in the industry is “Metroidvania,” which obviously indicates a blend of Metroid and Castlevania exploration and gameplay. That’s an apt description for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition , but Drinkbox’s production has a distinctive twist: It doesn’t get bogged down with large, tedious inventories, nor does it rely on boring fetch-and-return quests. This is a streamlined adventure that simply relies on the advancement of the main character; as the heroes – Juan and Tostada – get stronger, they can access more areas. And oh yeah, they’re Luchadores.

These extremely popular personalities represent the flashy Mexican version of American wrestling. Hence, your abilities revolve around various melee and grappling skills, which in turn requires some patience and practice. The one thing I don’t necessarily like about Guacamelee! is that it’s too similar to an old-fashioned fighting game, in that you have to memorize a lot of difficult combos as you progress. You didn’t really do this in Metroid or Castlevania (at least, not in the traditional 2D adventures), so the emphasis was more on discovery. I prefer that to the larger focus on battle.