Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (Sony PlayStation 4)

Review by Pierre-Yves L.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition for the PS4 is a new version of a side-scrolling Metroidvania brawler that has been more than a little popular, and comes to us from Canadian-based DrinkBox Software.

The game was already good stuff, so you might be wondering what the developer could possibly do to "improve" on it. Well, this new version features new content such as expanded storylines, new areas to explore, new abilities, enemies and a new boss to fight!


Guacamelee! is the story of a humble fellow called Juan, who is in love with El Presidente's Daughter. One day while taking care of things in town for the local priest, an evil skeleton by the name of Carlos Calaca attacks El Presidente’s Manor and kidnaps his daughter. In his attempt to rescue his love Juan is killed and sent to the land of the dead. There, Juan comes across the mask of a Luchador. By putting on this mask Juan gains the beginning of the powers that he will require to take on Calaca and not only save the woman he loves, but the entire world!



An extreme eye for detail can be seen throughout Guacamelee! in its smooth graphics, quick load times, and the fluid combat motions of both Juan and the hordes of enemies and bosses between him and Calaca. The city of Santa Luchita acts as a hub for most of the adventure as it, opens up over time as Juan learns new abilities. The interesting part of this hub it that it acts as a homage to various other games and movies such as Castle Crashers, Super Mario Bros., Wreck it Ralph, and numerous others.  Player Uno who can be seen standing on his own at the entrance of the City. This is a game made by people with a real love for games, in other words.

Juan is not exactly the most powerful character out there initially. Over the course of his journey there are multiple opportunities to learn new skills and fighting abilities, as well as upgrade existing ones. The first of these are mandatory to progress within the story and cannot be missed. These are introduced in a very entertaining fashion for a tutorial; players need to use the abilities to destroy precious statues belonging to a Goat who just also happens to be the one teaching Juan these skills. Each time a statue is destroyed, the Goat gets very upset, but he still grudgingly teaches Juan how to use new abilities such as uppercuts, downward slams, headbutts, and bullrushing. These skills, as well as being very useful within combat, are used to destroy specific walls or floors throughout the quest.



Other upgrades are purchased at checkpoints with currency that can be obtained by destroying barrels and comboing enemies. Beside a bunch of upgrades to skills, Juan can also purchase upgrades to health and stamina regeneration. Finally, costumes may be purchased which enhance and change abilities such as being able to deal more damage or receive more damage, while others offer a trade off; for instance the ability to regenerate health per successful attack at the cost of a much lower max health.

Combat is a solid experience of strong blows and jumping maneuvers, while the ability to grapple and throw foes into the ground and into each other helps to grant a sense of strength, power, and maneuverability in the character. Boss fights grant satisfying combat experiences as they are all unique encounters and each requires the utilisation of a whole host of skills that players have developed along the way.

On top of all the combinations and the special moves Juan is granted the use of INTENSO! This powerful fighting ability transforms Juan from being a powerful Luchador into a Badass Luchador who can eliminate enemies without much effort. INTENSO! can turn around just around about any fight, but it's limited in how often it can be used, and serves as Juan's ultimate trump card.



The story of Guacamelee! is told within both cutscenes and the environments themselves. Juan, who is a silent protagonist, still has plenty of personality, as we see when he taunts various bosses by staring them down. A man of few words, he lets his fists do the talking as he cuts short one conversation with an enemy with a lunging uppercut. Dialogue is a balance between wit and humour in Guacamelee!. It is, first and foremost, a comedy, but it's also a smart one, and this is important.

In order to aid in Juan’s exploration, the Dual Shock 4’s touchpad can be used to bring up the local and world maps. These various maps help Juan keep track of where he has been and where he needs to go. This can come in handy when backtracking through the various locations to find unopened chests for upgrades or to find new paths to next encounter.

Guacamelee! is the incredible adventure, offering up thrilling events and plenty of combat in between its humour. DrinkBox have done an amazing job and the Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition for the PS4 is more than a worthwhile experience.



- Pierre-Yves L.
Contributor


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