Indie games seem to be particularly ripe for the porting right now, what with Microsoft and Sony intent on plugging the noticeable gaps in their 12-month launch windows with the “Definitive Edition” of pretty much everything. This month it’s the turn of Drinkbox’s Guacamelee!, a side-scrolling metroid-vania-alike that’s hitting all the consoles – including last gen – in a new and improved Super Turbo Championship Edition.
Guacamelee! tells the story of Juan, a wannabe Luchadore who is tragically killed when the evil Carlos Calaca ascends from hell with an army of skeletons and starts laying waste to Juan’s tiny village. Resurrected by a magical wrestling mask, Juan sets off on his quest to rescue his love and bodyslam Calaca once and for all.
Progress through the game’s various environs is steady, regulated by the age-old rule of drip-fed abilities. As you pursue Calaca, Juan is granted new powers by a goat that turns into an old man (or an old man that turns into a goat), and the Combo Chicken, which is, well, a giant chicken that teaches you combos. Guided by a benign spirit named Tostada (who becomes your suplex buddy in co-op mode), you travel around using Juan’s various powers to destroy the colour-coded blocks that impede your way. As with other games of this ilk, the more powers you unlock the more paths you can open and the more power-ups you can find.
Controlling Juan is a joy as he sprints and springs and uppercuts and ground-pounds, comboing enemies and seamlessly switching between the lands of the living and the dead to solve environmental puzzles and circumnavigate obstacles. The platforming is tight and responsive and the level design is consistently clever enough to keep you thinking about where you’re going and what you’re doing.
For a more detailed breakdown, check out Adam’s glowing review of the original game, but it’s suffice to say that besides the inclusion of a tasty DLC bundle and a handful of new areas, the biggest change is the addition of the Intenso mode. Now, Juan has a new meter filled by defeating enemies, and activating it sends him into overdrive, bolstering his combo speed and damage. It makes an already frantic game completely bonkers for a few minutes, especially if you use Intenso on a screen-full of enemies all at once.
Elsewhere, new areas and bosses add freshness, and unlockable costumes – bought with silver coins found in pinatas – range from the snazzy to the absurd. You can also save multiple games now, which is handy if you have more than one person in your house who wants to play. An interesting tweak is the ability to switch dimensions independently in co-op mode, which makes fighting those pesky blacked-out enemies easier as you can work in tandem with your partner.
Graphically, the Super Turbo Championship Edition isn’t much different, though on PS4 it does seem to be much slicker. The aesthetic is wonderfully charming throughout, and works brilliantly in conjunction with the off-the-wall humour. None of the dialogue is spoken, but the sound effects and, notably, the music, do a great job of selling the atmosphere.
VERDICT: Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition doesn’t get much wrong throughout, and the inclusion of new levels and enemies adds longevity to an already great experience. It can be a little repetitive if played for long periods, but the unique and likeable art-style and effortlessly enjoyable combat carry it through.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by publisher.