Guacamelee! 2 Review: Juan More Time!
Out of all the Metroidvania games that are on the market right now, Drinkbox Studios’ [...]
Out of all the Metroidvania games that are on the market right now, Drinkbox Studios' Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is probably the most accessible. That's not to say it's the easiest -- in fact, far from it -- but its free-wheeling nature, wonderful Luchador-style presentation and fun gameplay makes it a wonderful entry in the genre for newcomers, while suiting those that have been around for a long time.
So, to no one's surprise, Guacamelee! 2 follows suit, staying on the beaten path we've come to expect from the series, but still expanding enough with new abilities, enjoyable boss fights and lots of laughs. After all, if it ain't broke, why fix it?
The game catches back up with Juan a couple of years after what unfolded in the first game. He's let himself go as he's settled into a quiet family life, but it isn't long before trouble starts stirring up, as a dominating force threatens to break apart the Mexiverse (yes, that's what it called) unless he and his fellow heroic Luchas can do something about it.
Prepare For a Lucha's Challenge
Guacamelee! 2's opening moments are bound to be a real treat for fans of games, paying tribute to a few old-school favorites and even a couple of new games, though we won't spoil it here. It's not long after that the action begins to pick up, as you make your way through a number of hazard-filled levels, acquiring new abilities along the way.
Some of these moves will be familiar to fans of the original game, including a rising uppercut that breaks through red blocks and the ability to switch between dimensions to reach invisible-turned-real platforms. But there are some interesting tricks as well, like being able to turn into a much more powerful chicken. Yep, he can kick butt and take names with a few wing swipes, as well as a drilling attack that can both hurt enemies and break through walls. You can switch back and forth between the two and actually get a good combo chain going if you're enough of a talented amigo.
Just be warned. Like the first game, Guacamelee! 2 can throw you for a loop when it comes to difficulty. One particularly frustrating stage has you passing safely through a lava field thanks to a dimension rift, but all it takes is one mistake and you're thrust right back to the checkpoint you last crossed. There are also a lot of "Lucha" encounters, where you have to take on foes in enclosed areas, some of which are shielded and require a certain attack to defeat. These add some great strategy to the game, and get you warmed up for its unique combat style. That said, be prepared to lose a few times. Not to the point of frustration, but learning where things are so you can successfully survive to the next checkpoint.prevnext
Challenges and Co-Op
Some of the challenges, however, are totally worth it, as you'll earn upgrades that will power up Juan and his fellow characters with ease, like additional heart containers. You can also unlock new moves and techniques via a skill tree, with everything from wrestling specialties to a whole array of stuff for your chicken mode. Yes, you can build a more aggressive chicken. Take that, Colonel Sanders!
Some difficulty spikes aside, Guacamelee! 2 is a wonderful playing experience. The precision controls are excellent and you'll find clever use of your powers over the course of the game, be it the dash fist, the floor stomp or even a helpful pile driver or two. There's a learning process to all of it, but you'll graduate with ease and see everything that the game has to offer. It's got just the right amount of balance to it.
What's more, you don't have to make the journey on your own. Guacamelee! 2 offers drop-in and drop-out co-op for up to four players, so that others can jump in and help out when the situation calls for it. Things can get slightly confusing during more raucous fights, but overall it's a great thing to partake in when you've got some buddies coming over for a night of gaming. Plus it's hilarious when you all become chickens.prevnext
Lots To Do, and With a Great Presentation
In addition, Guacamelee! 2 is well rounded, with a lot of secret areas, hidden rooms, a lot to unpack in the skill tree and, most importantly, a more difficult mode that awaits once you get through the main journey. Drinkbox Studios has also promised to add more content down the line, including online leaderboards for you speedrunners seeking the ultimate challenge. Now it's just a matter of when we get them…
And we're happy to report that Guacamelee! 2 is just as stylish as the original game. The art applied to the game's visuals is eye-popping and filled with great character design; and the differences between some areas (across different dimensions -- it's a big Mexiverse) is startling. I'm also a fan of the way the boss battles were designed, even a mariachi who's a little obsessed with chickens. (Okay, maybe not that obsessed.)
Also, the music is extraordinary. A number of Mexican tunes are thrown into the game, including some outstanding use of guitar and horns. There's also a little techno thrown in for good measure, but not to the point of overkill. It's a good listen.prevnext
Just the Metroidvania Fiesta You've Been Waiting For
Finally, the game's sense of humor is about perfect. Even if you don't find all the references Guacamelee! 2 has to offer, there are enough good-natured jokes to keep you chuckling in-between stages. Do yourself a favor and stick around for as much of the dialogue as you can -- especially when it comes to how the mysterious pieces of the universe are made.
Drinkbox's Guacamelee! 2 serves as an ideal sequel, not really changing what made the first game work so well, but adding just enough to make it worth its weight in Mexican gold. The gameplay is divine and still feels rock solid; the presentation is colorful and filled with passion and personality; and the level of challenge is just about right, save for certain areas. Having some amigos join in for co-op fun can't be beat either; and there's a lot of game here, especially with a higher difficulty setting.
For a $20 investment, Guacamelee! 2 is just the fiesta you've been waiting for, Metroidvania fans. Now snag it. Andale!
WWG's Score: 4.5 out of 5
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.prev