Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (360, Xbox One, Wii U, PS4)

GUACA_BOXJuan is a humble Mexican farmer, but one day while helping prepare for his village’s Day of the Dead festivities, a group of evil skeletons kidnaps El Presidente’s daughter, who is also Juan’s childhood friend.    These skeletons, led by the evil Calaca, plan to merge the world of the dead with the world of the living, and they kill Juan before he can rescue the girl.  Stuck in the world of the dead, Juan finds a mysterious mask.  When he puts it on, he becomes a strong and powerful Luchador.  The guardian of the mask, a lady named Tostada, tells Juan that the mask not only gives him the power of a Luchador, but will also allow him to return to the world of the living so he can rescue El Presidente’s daughter, defeat Calaca and his minions, and save both worlds in the process.  I don’t know what is different in the Super Turbo Championship Edition of Guacamelee, since I never played the original, but this downloadable game is a 2-D action platformer with Metroid-style exploration and combo-based fighting gameplay (360 version reviewed here).

Juan must explore the vast land, gathering clues from townsfolk in villages and fighting off skeletons and other undead baddies out in the forests, deserts, and temples he’ll explore.   He can punch and throw bad guys and chain together button presses for powerful combos.  By looking in every nook and cranny, Juan can find special abilities that’ll help him overcome obstacles and reach previously blocked areas.  He’ll learn moves like body slams and uppercuts that’ll help him break certain colored blocks, and he’ll learn other moves, too, such as wall climbing and double jumping to improve his mobility.  Use these moves sparingly as they’ll decrease your stamina bar, but don’t worry, it refills over time.  By searching and backtracking, you’ll find other treasures, too, that’ll increase your health and stamina bars, and more!

By defeating enemies, you’ll earn pesos that you can use to buy upgrades and costumes at the altars scattered about the land.  These altars also act as save points, too.  You can buy some health and stamina upgrades as well as permanent stat-increasing boosters.  You can also purchase costumes that’ll affect how you fight in different ways.  You’ll want to stock up so you can tackle the bad guys in both the world of the dead and the living.  Speaking of which, one of the major things you’ll do in the game is solve puzzles and overcome obstacles by switching from either the dead or living worlds.  Both are identical, but with subtle differences.  At first you’ll only be able to switch worlds at certain warp points, but later on you’ll earn a power that’ll let you switch worlds at will.  It’s kind of like how the light and dark world works in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

If there is any problem that I have with the game, it’s that it can get a bit difficult, especially near the end.  If you’re like me and aren’t as well-versed in combo moves in fighting games, then you may have a tougher time with this one.  Plus, in order to get the ‘good’ ending, you have to find these super-secret hidden orbs that even I didn’t know about until after I had already beaten it once.  But with loads of secrets and hidden challenges to find, this game has plenty of replay value.  And if the game does get too difficult for you, a second player can join in as Tostada to help out.  Actually I wish you could play as Tostada in single player mode, as she seems much cooler than the Luchador even though they have the exact same move set.  I also really liked the humor in the game, as it pokes fun of other popular video games like Mario, Mega Man, Wreck-It Ralph, Zelda, and especially Metroid!  At any rate, Guacamelee is a fantastic game anyway and a must-download if you enjoy Metroid style adventures.


Kid Factor:

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, and Use of Alcohol.  Even though you punch and throw skeletons, demons, and other evil beings, they only fall apart or run away when defeated.  The only blood I saw was in a cutscene where young Juan got a bloody nose.  There is some mild language and suggestive themes in the text, but are used sparingly.  There is a bar and wine barrels in the game, and one of the demons is a heavy drinker with a head of fire.  But none of it is glorified in any way.  Some families with strict religious beliefs may not like some of the themes of the game, which have to do with dealings with the devil and whatnot.  Reading skill is helpful and younger gamers may get frustrated at the difficulty.  But luckily a second player can join in to help at any time.  It’s a bit of a stretch, but the game could also be considered somewhat educational as it showcases Mexican culture, language, and art through the themes and graphics in the game.

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