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Guacamelee

January 17, 2014

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While watching dozens of hours of Chuck over the Christmas break and getting burnt out on the constant will-they-wont-they story line I realised that I needed a distraction to stop myself from losing my mind. Yes Chuck is a brilliant example of geek entertainment, with more call backs and references to other material per minute than anything preceding it. I do not however have the capacity to go through 5 seasons in just over a month without some burnout. My wife however would not stop watching so to keep the peace I thought I’d show my vita some love while Chuck, Sarah and Casey saved the world over and over.
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Guacamelee was that love receiving game and I’m very happy I chose it. A side scrolling platformer in which you play Juan.  A regular guy that’s killed in the first minutes of the game by an evil spirit, given a second chance as long as he is possessed by the spirit of a Luchador. Thankfully the Luchador in question is not Rey Mysterio and you’re tasked with saving the girl and the world while using your new fighting/ mobility powers. It’s a throwback to old Metroidvania games of yore and reminds you of why those games are loved so much.
The presentation is beautiful in its art style and fantastic music. Visual jokes and references to pop culture may date the game in 10 years time but right now it adds to its considerable charm.
The game play however is where Guacamelee really shines. The world is so carefully created in order to take you in and around it over and over once you unlock its many different powers. Each power unlocking a considerable chunk of the world until the entire map is open to you. Only then does the real challenge of Guacamelee become apparent.

You'll wish you hadn't.

You’ll wish you hadn’t.

There are very tough sections in this game. Maddening, frustrating and almost impossible. It almost pushed me to the point of giving up when searching for some of the harder to find collectables yet it kept me coming back until I’d reached my goal. You will probably find yourself looking up videos of people completing sections in this game just to prove to yourself that it’s possible. Thankfully the charm of the game makes you want to continue and it’ll actually make you laugh during the most difficult platforming sections much like a particularly offensive, yet hilarious comedian hell bent on making you cry through sadness and laughter at the same time.
Along with the platforming, the combat is just as satisfying but much easier. I would shake in fear when faced with certain amounts of platforms knowing my palms would soon become covered in sweat and the structural integrity of my Vita would be tested. When faced with a room full of enemies I would just smile at the possibility of a huge combo. The amount of moves available make the combat constantly enjoyable as you take down enemies with piledrivers and frog splashes.
The story is not amazing but serves to keep you motivated enough. There is one point however that hit me hard emotionally and made me pause from my intense playing session. It’s not a big or necessary part of the game but it is so sweet that I hope you complete this tiny section to see how little a writer has to do sometimes to really make you think.
This is an excellent example of a VITA game. It fits the form, style and portability of the Vita and I hope we get to see a lot more just like Guacamelee.
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It seems that January is the month in which I play crazy challenging platformers in some kind of self flagellation ritual to welcome in the New Year. Last year was Super Meat boy and it took me a whole 12 months before I put myself through the torture/satisfaction again. I wonder what January will bring next year.
We finished Chuck as well and I also recommend that as it’s all on Netflix. Just don’t start following Adam Baldwin on Twitter. A Gun toting conservative Republican can be an entertaining character in a television show. On twitter it’s just stressful and hinders your enjoyment of their performances.

What platformers have you forced yourself to complete recently?
What celebrities have you stopped following due to their radically differing political views?

XBL, PSN and Twitter @Urbundave

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3 Comments
  1. I really need to force myself to finish Guacamelee because it’s such a good game. I got turned off by that difficult cave with the vanishing platforms. I think it’s the third picture in your post.

    • I know exactly what you mean. It took me close to an hour to finish it, sweat covered hands and all. It’s the second to last room that’s the worst. Keep at it though. Totally worth it.

  2. I went into this game expecting a nice Metroidvania title. I was surprised at how challenging the platforming was since that isn’t really a hallmark of that subgenre. This was such a well put together game. I look forward to seeing this developer’s next game.

    I also enjoyed Chuck. Season 2 especially. It was all good if a bit up and down in the latter seasons, but Season 2 was excellent.

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