Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is easily both the most difficult game I’ve tackled this year and the most rewarding. The luchador-powered beat ’em up combines the flavorful world of Mexican folklore with classical platforming elements and surprisingly complex combat to make for a game that is both challenging and fun. And while the original game released early last year, the Super Turbo Championship Edition adds more than enough new content to justify this rerelease.
The game starts you out, not as an all-powerful luchador, but as a mere agave farmer named Juan. On his way to the Dia de los Muertos festival to celebrate and honor the dead, Juan is killed by the skeletal Calaca as he kidnaps the President’s Daughter as part of his plan to combine the worlds of the living and the dead. Through the power of a mystical luchador mask, Juan is able to return to life and sets out to stop Calaca and save his love interest.
As an action platformer, most of your time in Guacamelee is spent fighting skeletal foes, leaping from precarious ledges, or some combination of the two. No matter which side of the game you’re experiencing, techniques are what will make or break you As a newly revived luchador, Juan isn’t the most powerful fellow at the beginning of the game. He can punch and throw, sure, but he’s a little barren in the department of kickass lucha techniques. Fortunately, a hermit who moonlights as an animorphic goat is around to teach Juan some sweet luchador moves from time to time. Those techniques are key in both combat and puzzle platforming and range from flying uppercuts, midair kicks, to powerful ground pounds.
Guacamelee does many things well, but one of the most finely-crafted elements of the game is the overall pacing. Each element is introduced gently enough where you find yourself learning and embracing new strategies without even knowing it. Trial and error is key to learning the best way to make it through a platforming segment, but the main story challenges rarely feel insurmountable. That’s not to say that the entire game won’t challenge you, because oh dear god it will, but the difficulty constantly encourages your lucha skills to grow. Nothing feels more rewarding than finally timing that jump puzzle just right to make it to the hidden chest at the end.
Super Turbo Championship Edition comes with some very super turbo championship-ly new content unique to this release, and this includes both costumes, abilities, and entire new levels. Super Turbo was my first adventure into the Guacamelee world, but my co-op partner was a veteran of the first game. The new features fit flawlessly into the game and it’d be hard to imagine it without them there. It was through his confused surprise that I was able to figure out which features and areas were new. The Intenso meter, a superchared overdrive mode, was easily one of the most noticeable new features. A third, new meter fills up as your luchador lands hits on enemies. After enough hits, you can toggle into Intenso mode which stuns near by enemies for a moment and ups your speed and damage.
Racking up higher combos and finding hidden chests rewards Juan with gold and silver, which can be spent on ability upgrades and new costumes. While abilities will grant you more health, stamina, or Intenso meter and generally make the game easier, new costumes have the potential to add a whole new level of challenge to an already-challenging game. Costumes come with features such as a chicken suit that regenerates your heath over time or a piñata costume that ups how much money you’ll make while making you more fragile. Saving silver up for newer and better costumes was a huge driving force in finding all the secrets Guacamelee had to offer.
The entire game continues to push and challenge you, even long after that final battle. The story itself was just long enough where it felt neither rushed nor dragged on, and even offers a bunch of post game content if you’re sadistic enough to try it. Seriously. Everything I said earlier about Guacamelee being challenging without seeming impossible does not apply to the post game levels, but you’ll need to endure them if you want to get the good ending. I’ve made it through five of the six challenges. And I mean challenges. I would have thought some puzzles to be impossible had I not had a co-op partner. Co-op, and the ability to respawn off your co-op partner after death, is so close to cheating it hurts.
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is difficult, fun, and addicting all at the same time. Despite its challenge and difficultly, the game is crafted and balanced enough where you’re constantly learning and constantly inspired to work harder to conquer whatever stands in your path. The solid gameplay experience is melded perfectly with a unique and quirky blend of humor that few games are able to achieve. You should be playing Guacamelee. Right now. Seriously, the moment I finish this review, I’m hopping right back on the game to try for that true ending.
[+Constantly Challenging Without Feeling Impossible] [+Co-op!] [+Overflowing With Post Game and Hidden Content] [+World Overflowing With Both Folklore and Humor] [+Hidden Levels Offer Difficulty, If You’re Up for the Challenge]