What happens when you combine Mexican wrestling with a platforming adventure game in the vein of Metroid? More importantly, why has nobody else done this before? Guacamelee luckily is here to answer all your questions and prayers, whilst wearing a luchador mask in the process.
The story sees Juan Aquacate don a wrestling mask and set out in search of the woman he loves – El Presidente’s kidnapped daughter. On his journey he literally tackles the stereotypically Mexican enemies sent by an Evil Charro Skeleton to block his path, and he travels between Mexican themed worlds to move forward in this “Metroid-vania” styled platformer from DrinxBox Studios.
In the section I got to go hands on with, I was pitted against a whole host of Dia dos les meurtos styled opponents (i.e. skeletons in ponchos with sombreros), and faced off against what seemed like the main antagonist – a tequila drinking, revolver shooting, flaming bandito. As you may have guessed, stereotypes feature heavily throughout the game.
Visually this title is absolutely superb. Being a completely two-dimensional game means that the block colours and crisp lines really create an impressive visual spectacle – with some scenes being hard to discern from a painted work of art. The games humour also means you’ll want to pick up and play this game to death. Quirky one-liners litter conversational text and inventive characters lighten up small sections where a joke hasn’t been made or you haven’t transformed into a chicken – yes, you read that correctly.
Later on an ability to switch between worlds also comes into your arsenal of powers, meaning at the pull of a trigger you can jump between these planes of existence easily and simply – a la Outland’s red and blue shift. This ability, along with the aforementioned handy chicken transforming one – and a leveling up experience bar – suggests that you’ll get more abilities as you progress through Guacamelee.
Despite the rather blatant, and puzzling, Metroid reference, Guacamelee barely seems to ape Nintendo’s classic beyond offering a large interlinked world. Thanks to its wrestling move mechanics, it seems that it’ll bring something completely new to the table. Body slamming skeletons before bear-hugging them into a suplex is just one of the many combo moves that you’ll be filling your time with. If it’s not that, then it’ll be leaping over enemies with wild abandon and refraining from shouting/quoting lines from Nacho Libre.
Guacamelee may seem like an odd creation from the start, and it really is, but give it the time of day and you’ll never want to put it down for a siesta.