Quick! Think of some of the most badass things in the entire universe!
[Pause for Your Thinking…]
Times up! I’m sure you thought of a bunch of things, but if Batman, monster trucks, fire, Mr. Rogers, or Luchadores didn’t come to mind, then please forfeit your testicles to your closest internet because you are a disgrace to all things that dangle.
If you did happen to think of those things, then Congratulations! You may proceed to read my funny rambles about a game that focuses on the badassness that is the Luchador! And that game is none other than Guacamelee!
Console: PSN and PC
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
Release Year: 2013
I waited a long time to play Guacamelee. When I first heard it was a Beat-‘Em-Up/Metroid-vania hybrid, I almost went outside to hurricanrana the first person I saw. The only thing that stopped me was the whole “going outside” part.
Anyway, I love Metroid-vanias! They’re known for their isolation, backtracking, and keeping things tantalizingly out of your reach. I know all those things sound just awful, but in video games it works for some reason! Mix Beat-‘Em-Up sensibilities into that formula, and you know nothing bad can happen! It may sound so odd that your measly little brain may not be able to comprehend its true awesomeness at first, but then you realize that the game stars a Luchador named Juan, and, as I’ve already established, Luchadores are amazing. Just look at how Juan prepares to don the mask of the Luchador:
If you don’t explode your shirt to take it off, you’re doing it wrong.
Honor, Tradition, Justice, Mask-Wearing: These are the aspects of manliness that Luchadores uphold and protect on a daily basis. Plus, they beat people up with flips and wrestling moves, and that’s a pro in my book. I was so excited to play this game that, in order to tide me over until its release, a few friends and I decided to watch “Samson vs. The Vampire Women” starring El Santo, the greatest and most powerful Luchador in all of the world!
No, movie. You can’t just have El Santo show up like that out of nowhere without any explanation. It’s just too brilliant!
But, now that I’ve played through the game a few times, I have to say that it did not disappoint! The concept! The controls! The combat! The colors! Ay Dios mio, the colors! In an industry dominated by the mentality that earth tones equal masculinity, Guacamelee puts that mindset in a head scissor and flings it out of the ring in a flourish of bombastic radiance!
Are you threatening me?
And just look at that stance! This is the stance Juan stays in during the entire game while at rest. And who could blame him? That stance looks so damn good and exudes so much virility that there’s no situation in existence that could make you look bad while you’re in it. Take these following examples. In this stance, you’d even then look good:
Awkwardness has no place for the one in Luchador Stance! There is only Confidence and Manliness!
The game does like to use a lot of tired internet jokes and video game references. Most of the game references are pretty good, so I won’t spoil them here. Part of the fun is discovering them yourself.
Aside from its aesthetic and humor, the actual gameplay is probably worth noting as well. Basically, in Guacamelee, combat is king! The fighting is a lot like Super Smash Bros. in that you press a direction and a button to do different attacks as well as roll-dodge all over the place. There’s also a throwing mechanic that has you chucking enemies into each other in all manner of body slams. And the best part is that you can connect and link all the melee attacks and throws into one massive Lambada of Destruction! Pulling off a continuous string of death to an entire room of baddies can be both thrilling and rewarding. Needless to say, combat is easily the best part of this game. Either that or the fifty-story Frog Splash. Both are pretty incredible.
A Frog Splash Eddie Guerrero would be proud of.
But the combat and the Frog Splash aren’t even in the same league as my favorite thing in the entire game: The Goat Fly! A special maneuver that only the truest of Luchadores are able to preform! Its majesty alone is enough to make a grown Chupacacbra cower in its own freshly excreted urine.
Everyone knows Luchadores are full of magic and beef jerky.
And, I’m proud to say, the platforming in this game is worthy of the Luchador! There’s a bunch of obligatory jumps onto platforms and climbing and whatnot, but jumping is also an instrumental tool you’ll need to utilize during combat, especially if you want to rack up combos and have a goat come out to yell Spanish stuff at you.
It’s even greater than I imagined…
There’s also a dimension-shifting mechanic that allows you to switch from the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead. As you can imagine, shifting is key as one land will have something blocking your path while the other is free from obstruction. This has been done before, but it’s when Guacamelee demands that you shift mid-jump during fast-paced platforming sections that the mechanic really shines. Some of the platforming that requires shifting can get pretty tough, though the game’s never too tough. I found these sections to be far more rewarding than frustrating, and that’s a good thing. Being pissed off at a game isn’t as fun as it sounds.
Though I freaking love this game, it’s not perfect. Its major drawback is that it’s easy. There’s an unlockable hard mode, and some of the Pearls you need in order to get the game’s best ending are pretty tough to find, but I never struggled against the levels or bosses. I still haven’t found all the chests and items in the game, but I don’t really see a reason to find them all except to get the Platinum Trophy. But the game’s worst offense is that it reminded me that I will never be destined to do great things because, alas, I am not a Luchador.
A fact that I must learn to cope with.
Some would argue that the game’s length is a con, but I like short games. I beat Guacamelee in 6 1/2 hours with the good ending. That’s plenty enough time to have fun in my opinion. Also, I’m more likely to replay short games multiple times, so that adds to its replayability. In fact, I replay Guacamelee immediately after beating it. It’s just that good. I don’t even think I turned my Vita off. I just started the game again.
In conclusion, you must purchase this game! It’s absurdly fun, absolutely hilarious, and has Luchadores. Supporting a game like Guacamelee will let the game industry’s movers and shakers know that fun, goofy, and colorful games still have a place in the modern world! Just know that Guacamelee is a Metroid-vania through and through: you collect power ups to permanently upgrade your Luchador, you obtain special moves needed to advance to new areas on the interconnected map, and there’s backtracking. Because, as the Luchador knows, tradition is a very powerful and honorable thing worth protecting.
Beyond that, expect tons of things to beat up! Thanks for Your Playing! And remember to keep your eyes on the skies! You never know when you’ll see a Luchador on his way to his next world-saving mission!