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Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (Wii U) artwork

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (Wii U) review

"You may want to pit yourself against it when you’re feeling at your peak ..."

If mask and tights are adequate protection and wrestling moves your preferred weapon, Juan, the broad-chested hero of Guacamelee! is your luchador. Armed with supernatural powers and the aid of master-taught abilities, his somewhat typical quest pays tribute the games that inspired it. Rescue El Presidente’s daughter and defeat the skull-headed mastermind, Carlos Calaca.

Introduced to the world via the Playstation Vita and PS3, the Gold Edition of this game was a hit when it landed on Steam in 2013. So much so it was quickly followed by the Super Turbo Championship Edition which has improved level design, augmented combat and other refinements. A bundle of the two editions with soundtrack can be had for roughly $20; a smashing deal.

This action oriented platformer is all polish, and a direct port from console optimized code. Two dimensional games like this just should never push your hardware, and this is a skillful example of code with sharp reflexes. Even integrated graphics solutions won’t blink at the tight controls and on-screen combat. Your rig is undoubtedly ready for this match.

On that note, you may comb through the settings and miss the lack of difficulty setting. It’s not a mistake: Once you’re in, be prepared to train, and train hard. This is not a game for beginners; mastery of your own reflexes is expected for optimal score and performance. Where Metroid and Zelda compensate the difficulty arc with gear upgrades, you are expected to do so with your muscle memory and trained reflexes with style.

Worry not, because there are some upgrades that serve as an analog for stamina increases and health for overall survivability. You have plenty of time to acquaint with Juan’s mechanics, which are forgiving and straightforward: Punch, kick and throw enemies around the screen to unbalance unreachable opponents. Executing moves requires little more than tilting an analog stick and pressing a corresponding button.

A little practice and you’ll be clearing the floor like a pro. Some scenarios pit you in arena combat with upwards of a dozen opponents at once. Fear not: You are always equipped to win. As with any fight, you have to overcome yourself first. The rest is … well, coins, which you’ll receive after the defeat of any enemy.

Juan is more than solid muscle and tough … silence? Just like the thorns tattooed on his chest, his moves do the talking, opting for the classic self-insertion approach to narrative. The aforementioned techniques do more than open beat-down options: Most goodies can only be reached with the use of recently acquired, goat taught, skills.

You won’t spend much time retracing your steps, thankfully, because this is a demanding game. You may want to pit yourself against it when you’re feeling at your peak, because anything less could be personally disappointing. This drives home the point of enacting the part of a luchador, funnily enough. Small wonder this title attracts dedicated warriors.

If you’re not ready for a beating, invite a friend for two player smackdown at any time. Your weapons; Xbox 360 controller and keyboard which can be easily swapped at the option screen. Probably the slickest method of doing so I’ve seen in recent history. Few titles treat the PC platform with such respect, and Drinkbox could likely have gotten away with less.

Thankfully the fun doesn’t stop there: Guacamelee! has entertaining culture-steeped characters with plenty of attitude and humour. How often does a female villain have enough depth to flirt with the hero, just to shrug it off as a game? A little respect for personality goes a long way here, and a few choice lines for memory.

Speaking of fun, while the soundtrack may be stereotypical, I doubt it could be any more fitting and inventive without being derivative. You’ve heard the guitar riffs before, and sometimes they stand out too much, but I’d warrant this worthy of adding to your personal library. Rom Di Prisco and Peter Chapman are no strangers to game music, and deliver an energetic and memorable audio backdrop for your adventure. Suitably, it doesn’t distract from your focus, which you’ll be needing.

As mentioned, melee combat isn’t your only obstacle: Platforms and walls will push the limits of your patience, but somehow, never too far. Remember how I said there are no difficulty options? Everything meets here. While you can’t increase Juan’s attributes, you can purchase wrestling moves, health and stamina at skull-adorned tables strewn throughout the game. These pull triple duty as perk distributors, auto-saves and recharge stations.

Carefully trimmed with Mexican-Spanish flavoured game references and caricatures, it could easily be said “challenge” is the main ingredient of this dish. From here on out how to beat this game is your choice. Complete the platform puzzles for rewards? Grind endlessly respawning enemies in open areas? Team up with an ally and share the fun? This is Drinkbox’s answer to scaling the challenge. The prize is yours to claim.

What’s Fun
Options galore. Guacamelee’s sharp-edged, colourful visual style charges at you with gusto. An unreserved yet tactful bash-fest is its own reward. Music is energetic, clever and thematic, if not a hint repetitive. Two player co-op is a riot. Steam Workshop is supported the community has adapted many characters from other games into the frames of this game’s heros.

What’s Not
Did I mention this is demanding game? If you’re not the patient type, stay away. This game cannot be typified by the ‘dumb muscle’ stereotype. Use the moves you have or you will fail. Be ready to work for the win. Two player mode is strictly offline.

Know you’re in for a personally demanding fight. Once you do, pick up one of the finest titles of the genre.

hastypixels's avatar
Community review by hastypixels (December 07, 2016)

At some point you stop justifying what you play and begin to realize what you're learning by playing.

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