Drinkbox Studios might be a newcomer to the indie scene, but after two games, they’ve proven themselves. Now they are set to light some firecrackers under your rears. Here comes a new challenger, Guacamelee! Luche Libre!
‘Guacamelee!’ takes place in a fictional Mexican setting where you play as an Agave farmer who is about ready to go into town and meet his old friend when he is murdered by the evil spirit from the underworld, Calaca. Upon arriving in the Land of the Dead, you come upon a sacred Luchadore mask that revives you and gives you the powers of a mystical Luchadore. Your goal is to stop Calaca from destroying the world and making it his own.
The game plays out like a 2d platformer which is very reminiscent of games like Metroid and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Even going so far as to making very obvious references in the power-ups you gain from destroying ‘Choozo’ statues and an ‘Error’ sidequest. The game’s combat plays like Zelda II in that it is melee based and it has many levels which make use of your abilities such as the Rooster Uppercut and Dash DERPDERP. The level design starts out simple but the challenge level rises significantly once the world shifting mechanics come into play. Also very much a reference to Zelda, the game also has plenty of secrets to discover. You can execute many interesting combos using your powers and standard melee attacks. The higher the combos and throws you use, the more money you earn. The money can be used to buy upgrades like extra health and stamina. There is even co-op play where the second player can play as Tostada, the character who tells you about the mask. The bosses are also similarly challenging, requiring you to learn their patterns and make extensive use of your powers and the dodge roll.
There are plenty of references to video games and internet memes which are amusing. Some people might see this as nostalgia-baiting, but it really feels more like the developers really love games, and wanted to put in everything they thought was cool. You get a really good feeling that they enjoyed working on it and it’s not just a cash-grab. Unfortunately, the game does fall a little short in certain aspects. While the game is humorous, there is no voice-acting to add to the charm of the game’s atmosphere, and it really could have benefited from it. It does however, have a lot of character. Also, on the PS3, you cannot edit the control scheme, which makes it hard to do several things at once. Dodge rolling could have been better mapped to the L1 button instead of the L2 button. On the Vita, the button that would have been L1 is relegated to swiping down on the touch screen. Much better, as the L1 button’s function is very situational. The platforming in the later parts might also turn off some players a bit as well, as some of the optional areas are very challenging: A shame, since to see the best ending, you need to do these parts. There are also a couple of glitches and freezing issues, but I expect they will be ironed out later. There might also be DLC in the future to extend the length to a very short game.
All that said, this is a very entertaining experience for the platforming and Metroid fan who doesn’t mind a bit of weirdness in their games. And since it’s a cross-buy and cross-save game, you not only get both versions, but you can take your progress with you after uploading and downloading to and from the cloud. No PS Plus required! Definitely worth the 15 bucks!