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Game Review

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A luchador's life

There have been a few examples, so far, of titles making their way to the Wii U as a 'definitive' version. Few have done so with a name quite as tongue-on-cheek as Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, with the game quite literally yelling the extravagant name at you when loading it up. This version — also on PS4 and Xbox One — is keen to distinguish itself from the original; pleasingly, the bombast is every bit worthy of the final product.

Guacamelee! STCE begins with our hero Juan Aguacate being a rather normal, albeit particularly muscular, farmer in a Mexican town. In the early minutes you begin to explore the first area, chatting away to various NPCs before finding yourself in the church and being introduced to childhood friend and love interest, El Presidente's Daughter. Naturally chaos descends and, just as it seems romance will bloom, an evil skeleton called Carlos Calaca kidnaps the damsel in distress and your first attempt at rescue is both short-lived and disastrous. Briefly trapped in an undead world, a female character called Tostada begins to guide you on your way and you don a magical luchador's mask; so begins your quest to save the world from merging with the undead alternate reality and, of course, save the girl.

So far, so stereotypical, yet it becomes apparent early on that not only does the writing team at Drinkbox Studios understand the lazy stereotypes often associated with such plots, it is content to play with them using constant flashes of wit and humour. There's quite a cast here, from the devil, to a flirty seductress right down to an evil undead mariachi band that's fused together into one monstrous creature. Another key figure is a luchador master that now disguises himself as a goat; you destroy his 'Choozo' statues to obtain new abilities for combat, navigation or a bit of both.

That Choozo reference should tip you off, immediately, to a strong Nintendo vibe that runs through this experience, yet another 'Metroidvania' that seeks to do the term justice. In those terms, this does stand out as one of the strongest download-only examples in the sub-genre that we've seen, with the craft and attention to detail required to make such a structure work being fully in place. Though we finished our initial play-through in under six hours, this is a fairly sizeable world, and there's plenty of time to be spent backtracking and seeking collectibles, while additional Challenges — previously DLC content included in this addition — joins an unlockable Hard mode in tempting us back.

What's vital is that, through the strength of the mechanics in place, we're more than happy to seek out full completion and take the adventure on again. Primarily a 2D beat 'em up initially, it's not long before tricky platforming also comes into the experience. To begin with combat, basic melee moves are rapidly supplement by unlockable additions such as blazing 'Rooster' uppercuts, dash attacks and stomp moves. The strength of the design is that these various attacks not only serve to provide a rigorous combo system to obliterate enemies as stylishly as possible, but also become vital in opening up new areas and for making particularly tricky jumps. Early on you learn to use the uppercut move to add extra height to a jump, and these combat acrobatics only increase in time.

There's a pleasing flow to combat in particular, with crisp animation lending a reliable feel to what can be chaotic action. Executing a combo before throwing your enemy into half a dozen of its companions can feel terrific, and considering the fact that practically every button on the GamePad or Wii U Pro Controller is used — including both analogue stick buttons — it feels remarkably intuitive. We're sure our fingers started to resemble frantic button mashing to any uninterested observers, yet all the while we felt in control as we adjusted to the move-set; even the initial tendency for special moves to 'chain' into double attacks became an asset once we figured out what was happening.

With progress comes ever more colourful and challenging foes and environments, and after a few hours you'll be switching between dimensions — in brawls and while platforming — on the fly. Some sections are particularly tricky, prompting at least one occasion where we needed to give up in a worried state that we would never make it through, before a later attempt with a fresh mind was far more fruitful. By the end of the campaign our thumbs were working more frantically than ever, and some jumps and manoeuvres were borderline vexing; this is a game targeted at determined gamers.

That said, one key addition does make this iteration easier than plain-old original Guacamelee. The Intenso ability, activated via its own gauge and by pressing both analogue sticks, is rather like the B.A.T. mode in Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition, in that it makes you even more powerful for a short burst of time. It proves invaluable later in the game when combined with some other upgrades, and undoubtedly takes the edge off some punishing encounters. Purists can easily pretend it isn't there, but it does boost everyone's chances of seeing the end credits roll.

Boosts to the Intenso gauge, health and stamina bars are also part of the upgrade system available at checkpoints, in which gold earned can be exchanged for buffs in those areas or indeed improvements to the power of your grapple moves. With some Metroidvania backtracking — even if not aiming for 100% — most should be able to buy the abilities they want by the close, and there's even a second currency of 'silver' that can be spent on alternative outfits. We needed to be pickier with these, and it was a pleasing coincidence that the much desired chicken suit was also useful in the buffs it offered; there's useful depth here, as some outfits boost power at the expense of your health bar, and more tweaks besides.

Those keen to see greater gender representation in protagonists, meanwhile, should be pleased to know that you can switch to a Totana 'outfit', your guide in the story, at any time in single player — she has her own variations of all other outfits, too. The second player that jumps in for local co-op is also Totana, by default. The co-op, perhaps, is one of the few mis-steps here. It's functional, undoubtedly, utilising standard mechanics such as the ability to 'bubble', and bashing foes with a friend can be fun. The issue lies in the levels, in that some large hub areas scroll while level / dungeons areas often cut between screens; it can be tricky and feel awkward when a screen transition happens suddenly. That's a fairly minor quibble, but this feels like an experience that suits single player action perfectly, and has added co-op as a functional but less satisfactory feature, just to say it's there.

The strength truly lies in solo play, then, and the Wii U version's simple but useful ace is a permanent map on the second screen. Off-TV play is included, as is the ability to use a Pro Controller and view the map as a separate screen, but in a game where knowing where to go and scoping out newly available secrets is key, the option to glance at the map without fully breaking the flow of the action is surprisingly useful. A minor touch, but worthwhile nevertheless, as is the ability to discover statues that let you jump around the world at a whim.

As we suggested earlier, the relatively short campaign is offset by plenty of extras, with the El Infierno area — previously DLC — being a key example. It's composed of challenges — some of which have to be beaten to unlock a final ability — that take the difficulty up another notch, and will be popular with the most skilled gamers.

With excellent mechanics and a well constructed Metroidvania setup, Guacemelee! STCE achieves its main goals. What truly tips it over into an elite band of must-have downloads is its presentation, however. The music is a treat throughout, but most importantly the bright, chunky visuals look absolutely terrific, another demonstration that art design is far more valuable than how may polygons can be crammed onto a screen. Some areas look stunning, and the achievement is emphasized by the attention to detail that went into producing two versions of every area through the light / dark mechanic.

Our final recommendation for this returns to a point raised earlier — the writing and humour. There are some terrific moments in this, ranging from slightly mischievous allusions, to classic game references littered throughout, and even some deliciously cutting criticisms of current trends in the games industry. We won't spoil them here, but when you throw in some clever visual gags, too, this title triumphs in providing entertainment through gameplay, presentation and sheer audacity.

Conclusion

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is another top-notch download to grace the Wii U eShop. While the initial campaign may be deemed short by some, the opportunities to explore, collect, take on challenges or simply play it again should deliver more than enough bang for your buck. Co-op isn't absolutely suited to the experience, but as a single-player adventure the mechanics — both complex yet impressively intuitive — combine with terrific attention to detail to deliver a truly polished experience. In addition to being a fun gameplay experience, it's also an example of how artistic vision and clever, light-hearted writing can enhance an experience, an example of what can be achieved when development studios devote themselves fully to delivering a high quality product.

If you're an action platformer fan with quick thumbs, this is a must-buy.

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User Comments (75)

Discipledoctor

#1

Discipledoctor said:

I clicked on this thinking the if it's not a 9/10 or 10/10 then I'd have to destroy the reviewer. Good thing I don't have to today.

epicdude12302

#2

epicdude12302 said:

Just another game going on my wish list. It's way too expensive for me right now. I'll wait for a price drop.

Expa0

#3

Expa0 said:

I love Metroidvania, but the setting and music are complete 180 turn-offs for me.

Ryno

#5

Ryno said:

My backlog is too big, I will wait or get it if it goes on sale.

sinalefa

#6

sinalefa said:

Nice review, Thomas. Just keep in mind that the word "luchadore" does not exist in Spanish, where it is either singular "luchador" or plural "luchadores".

I got this on Thursday and I enjoyed what little I played. Armillo is taking priority for me, so after I beat it I will come back to the ring.

outburst

#7

outburst said:

@Discipledoctor
LOL.
Anyway, I have this game on Steam. I'll wait for a sale maybe then I'll buy it again on the eShop. Or maybe at full price to show some support but at a later date.

Zach777

#8

Zach777 said:

@Discipledoctor

I completely agree. It's good Mr. Whitehead thought the game was as amazing as I and everyone who buys this did (see eShop reviews by purchasers). It's nice to not have to pop him. (uh huh....)

XCWarrior

#9

XCWarrior said:

Only 9/10? ...pass.

Just kidding. Only thing I wasn't happy about was that the day before this edition was released, Steam had a prior edition on sale for like $1 or $2. And it's been part of a Humble Bundle deal where you could have paid for $1 for it.

Basically, what I'm saying is $15 is a bit much given it's been way cheaper on many other platforms already.

WiiLovePeace

#10

WiiLovePeace said:

I got another code from Nintendo Network Premium so I'm going to use that towards getting this game. Good review, thanks.

derickw69

#11

derickw69 said:

I told someone on this very site a few months ago that this game was awesome when talking about it on the vita and I stand by my opinion. With that said I have already purchased the Wii U edition and will be buying it a third time when i get it for my PS4 sometime next week after I renew my PS+ membership....it simply is that good of a game

sleepinglion

#12

sleepinglion said:

I really enjoyed the original title on my PS3. Are the tweaks to this version worth the upgrade?

Falchion

#13

Falchion said:

@Expa0 I agree and the title too. I really dont like guacamole so I wont think I will like the game. Also, more importantly, i have too many other games to play

mostro328

#14

mostro328 said:

Will get it eventually but funds are low I'm saving up for smash, and bayo, and i just got shovel knight

sevex

#16

sevex said:

I loved this on Vita. One of the few games where I actually got the Platinum trophy.

Tony_342

#18

Tony_342 said:

I got this on PS3 for $5 during a sale a few months ago, and loved every second of it. I'm glad to finally see it on a Nintendo system where it belongs. Excellent game.

hydeks

#19

hydeks said:

I'm playing this game right now on my Xbox One, because they are giving it to gold members for free :-) Great game, definitely recommend this for everyone to try.

ricklongo

#20

ricklongo said:

Got it day one and it is quite good. I love the colorful graphics and ridiculous combat moves - but of course, as in any good metroidvania, it's the exploration that pushes it over the top. I haven't gotten much far yet (the World Cup has been taking way too much of my free time, heh), but I can alredy heartily recommend it.

Peach64

#22

Peach64 said:

This and Shovel Knight coming so close together is a real boost for indies on Wii U. I've been very critical of the selection in the first 18 months which has been pretty poor compared to the competition, but hopefully this a sign of things to come. Hope they both sell well now.

midnafanboy

#24

midnafanboy said:

@Peach64 You don't have to worrie about that shovel knight has sold very well on the shop, and guacamelee too. Im very glad that these great indies came to the eshop this year.

ThomasBW84Admin

#25

ThomasBW84 said:

@Maelstrom The DLC sold separately before is included. I believe there's one boss and two new areas, too, along with new outfits.

BigH88

#26

BigH88 said:

As much as I want this I have way too many games in my backlog as it is so I will wait until I cut it in half or for a sale.

dumedum

#27

dumedum said:

The eshop has consistently from the beginning been excellent and better from the rivals in my opinion. This, armillo, Shovel Knight all together, keep the dominance going.

Knux

#29

Knux said:

It looks great but Microsoft basically gave me the Xbox One version for free, so I'll have to pass on the Wii U version. ;)

rjejr

#30

rjejr said:

I am so very happy to read all these comments w/o a single person writing - PS3/Vita got the original, Wii didn't, so don't support the developers.

Been looking forward to this since it originally launched last year. Some day. :-)

Anguspuss

#31

Anguspuss said:

i had this on the vita but found some of the controls to be a bit shoddy in trying to do some of the moves

unrandomsam

#32

unrandomsam said:

@XCWarrior Xbox One got this exact edition free with Gold on the same day. Sony gets a £3 upgrade price (Even if they got it free from PS+).

Spoony_Tech

#33

Spoony_Tech said:

@Ryno That's pretty much me in a nut shell. I really want it but realistically I'll play it for an hour and then won't return for a long while.

Great review however!

Bliquid

#34

Bliquid said:

I don't know if the Intenso ability makes a big difference, but the version i played (Vita) clocked at 10/12 hours to complete. If you rush to the end without scouting for upgrades and hidden areas, you are playing it wrong.

Yogsoggoth

#35

Yogsoggoth said:

I don't want to be that guy, but if this isn't a 10/10, I don't know what is. It really is a perfect game.

unrandomsam

#36

unrandomsam said:

I don't understand why people like this so much. I think anything with Metroidvania added gets 3 points automatically added to its score. (I think La Mulana is miles better).

Yosher

#37

Yosher said:

I'm probably one of the few who doesn't like this game's artstyle very much. I'm usually not one to pass up on games with odd artstyles, but this artstyle just really rubs me the wrong way. I'll pass on this one.

SFR79

#38

SFR79 said:

I got this game on Thursday with some DDP credit and it's one of the best games I've played recently on my Wii U. The visuals are astonishing and the humor is actually funny. One of the best things are the references to classic Nintendo games spread all over the levels.

JosieC84

#39

JosieC84 said:

I wish I can buy the Wii U version but the Xbox One got to me first since it was free for gold members. The controls are a bit annoying for example, getting chased by this huge creature and some how I grab on to the wall automatically slowing me down. Another annoying thing is when I jump then try to do the uppercut, I headbutt instead. Yeah the controls can be a pain.

sketchturner

#40

sketchturner said:

My WiiU backlog is ridiculous right now, but I still bought this day one just because I will play it eventually and want to show support for high quality games on the eShop.

Jock_Nerd

#42

Jock_Nerd said:

Bought this over the weekend. Pretty fun so far. Impressed with the overall quality. Fighting is fun. Reminds me of Viewtiful Joe.

Game-Over

#44

Game-Over said:

Good review, really nice visuals for this game and it's true next generation games don't all have to be 3D graphical marvels, old school games can still exist today. Good game play, creativity and style go a long way and never get old.

Ralizah

#45

Ralizah said:

Glad this finally came to a Nintendo console. Especially considering all of the Ninty references in it.

Game-Over

#46

Game-Over said:

It would be nice to see more games returning to that kind of arty, cartoon, comic book style, i love it. Capcom in particular is a company i would love to see reverting back to a more retro style, i just can't take to the new visuals for Street Fighter, for me it's lost all it's appeal.

ULTRA-64

#47

ULTRA-64 said:

This just jumped up a few places on my list, child of light and stick it to the man can wait a bit longer ...

Unit_DTH

#48

Unit_DTH said:

Between Shovel Knight and Armillo, I don't really have time for this one right now, but I will purchase it at my next earliest convenience, It looks great and I was really excited to hear when it was announced for the Wii U. I'm gonna be broke before the even bigger titles come to the Wii U later this year! If it weren't for all these wonderful Indie games, the Wii U might have another software drought. ;)

Unit_DTH

#49

Unit_DTH said:

@ULTRA-64 Child of Light is great, but buying it doesn't support the independent creativity that this game supports. CoL supports Ubisoft and nothing else.

Unit_DTH

#50

Unit_DTH said:

@JosieC84 That's just the Xbox one controller that is having those issues ;)
But seriously, getting it as a free download shows these developers no support at all.

Unit_DTH

#51

Unit_DTH said:

@Peach64 Just wondering what you are referring to as "the competition"? Because I've had a PS4 since launch and it still doesn't have any "must have" indie titles on it, well at least not until this game just released on it. The Wii U has had a fairly steady stream of Indie support and more so recently, heck my Wii U menu looks crazy from all the indie titles I have on it! Which raises another small off-topic point... Who else feels like Nintendo needs to give us "Folders" akin to the 3DS for organizing our Wii U Home Menu? This is a much needed thing for the Wii U OS imo.

readyletsgo

#52

readyletsgo said:

@vamkar lol, of course not, it's a stereotype, just like here in Ireland, the stereotype that we're all thick and drunks, trick is to not take it personally :)

Dpishere

#54

Dpishere said:

Definitely going to pick this game up once I clear out some of my backlog! Can't get enough games similar to Metroid and the art style in this one looks really cool!

Emblem

#55

Emblem said:

@Peach64 @Unit_DTH Was going to ask the same question, current gen digital playground is almost a wasteland as far as Indies/digital games go right now so I guess you are talking about PC,PS3 & XBL360?

If you haven't played it yet Unit_DTH I highly recommend Transistor, its quite unique and its an amazing experience and that soundtrack... man that soundtrack is hypnotising. I have it on PC and i'll be d/ling it on my PS4 when it eventually comes to PSN+. Its relatively short, but its meant to be played on new game+ once its over which completely changes the game around.

SCAR392

#56

SCAR392 said:

I've been playing this on Xbox One(Games with Gold), and it's worth a buy on Wii U, if you don't have it. It's a little boring at first, but it's gets better after the first temple or so.

eltomo

#57

eltomo said:

I would love this for Wii U, another perfect pad game, but when you can get it so cheap on steam, the price tag means I will wait for discounts.

SavoirFaire

#58

SavoirFaire said:

Definitely agree with the 9/10. I don't think I have played a game with a smile on my face as much as I have this one since Wonderful 101.

There are also some jump/slide combos that are pretty dang tricky to pull off. My main complaint: not enough silver coins! Wish they "account" based.

citizenerased

#61

citizenerased said:

This is the 2D Metroid you've been waiting for, with fantastic (very Super Smash Bros-esque) fighting controls. Go buy it now.

Kisame83

#63

Kisame83 said:

This was going to be a day one purchase for me. Then my xbox gave it to me for free lol

BertoFlyingFox

#64

BertoFlyingFox said:

I'm glad WiiU owners get to play this game, the original was a-mazing for me on Vita. I dont see much of a point in double dipping for this release though, the added bells and whistles arent enough to entice me.

Now if there was asynchronous co-op where we each get our own screen and are allowed to be a bit distanced from each other...that would've had me purchasing this game again. The way it is now, the game is too demanding platform wise for co-op.

Action51

#65

Action51 said:

@XCWarrior - Yup.

I find it a little frustrating as a PC and Nintendo gamer. I want to support these indie games and their developers, especially the really good ones that come to Nintendo platforms. However, I see these games on STEAM during sales or simply at reduced prices for mere fractions of the price that you can buy them for on Wii U.

How to Survive was like $3.99 during the summer sale, Guacamelee went down to $2.99 or less...1001 spikes and Shovel Knight are the only exceptions.

I kinda feel conflicted. I'd love to have these games on the pad and support third parties on the Wii U, but I also understand the value of a dollar and like anyone else I'd rather pay a fraction of the cost for the same game.

XCWarrior

#66

XCWarrior said:

@Action51 One thing that makes it easier for sure, such in the case of 1001 Spikes and Shovel Knight, are simultaneous releases. When a game comes out on a Nintendo platform later, these sale problems arise.

Action51

#67

Action51 said:

@XCWarrior - Oh definitely.

That is an issue though. Like the release of Deus Ex Director's Cut on Wii U coming out as full price as a digital download while other platform owners were getting it for as low as $20! (then low sales were used as proof that Nintendo owners won't support third parties again)

These games really should get some kind of discount on the Wii U as they release so much later. Maybe we'll start to see this as the Wii U gets more exclusive indie developed titles.

On the plus side, "Definitive Editions" and bonus exclusive content helps a lot to make something feel like more of a value too.

Jahir

#68

Jahir said:

I love how they used the mexican stereotypes in such awesome ways. I'll buy it as soon as I have El dinero.

Melkac

#70

Melkac said:

Basically all comments in this review are pretty much this: "Wow I already played it on other platformers but it's available now on Wii U so other people will be able to enjoy it yay!"

...I guess they won't be.

luke88

#71

luke88 said:

Having read the review, and all these comments, I'm going to have to buy this game. £12 is a bit more than I wanted to spend though, guess you pay for quality.

bbve

#72

bbve said:

I've already played it on my Vita, and there don't seem to be many upgrades so I think I'll pass on this one

Kaze_Memaryu

#73

Kaze_Memaryu said:

Somehow the mentality is just wrong here. "It's cheaper on [insert preferred platform here], there's no way I'm gonna get it on eShop" is one of the most tiring arguments I hear lately for any multiplatform/late platform release.
What's that supposed to mean?! That Guacamelee is only worth the lowest price you can get it for?! Jeez, that's a prime example of how PS+, Games for Gold, and Steam sales devalue some titles. They effectively prohibit games affected by these discounts to sell well on any other platform through a damn price tag (or lack thereof), which also prevents young developers who decided for one of these platforms as a starting point from being recognized on competing platforms.
At some point, this game bargaining just becomes lousy. I can understand when people want to save some cash, but lately, it's just going completely overboard.

ricklongo

#75

ricklongo said:

I finished this game last night (still a few collectibles short, so right now I'm backtracking), and let me say it: it is a Masterpiece. With a capital M. Please, don't miss out.

The fact that this and Shovel Knight came out within weeks of each other means this is the best time ever for downloadable games on Nintendo platforms.

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