Guacamelee review: Wrestling the way from PSN and into our Vita to win our hearts

Sony’s Playstation Vita, despite having a number of excellent titles available for it, often doesn’t get the respect it deserves. This theme carries true for the protagonist of Drinkbox Studios’ latest Vita offering, Guacamelee,. Juan Aguacate is a down on his luck man who is befallen with the task of becoming the ultimate luchador in order to save the world. An Evil Charro Skeleton is the catalyst behind this event, as El Presidente’s daughter is kidnapped by the mad man apparition.

You may already be well acquainted with Guacamelee as it was one of the first games support by Sony’s Indie Pub Fund. Additionally, it’s one of the few titles to take advantage of Sony’s cross-play compatibility, wherein players can not only transfer their saves across both their Playstation 3 and Vita, but also play with

The Vita screen can also double as a secondary screen, when playing on the PS3. PS Nation does an excellent job of illustrating exactly how to set this up, which allows players to have their in-game map appear on the Vita, and all gameplay occurring on the television screen.

Guacamelee

A fine blend between Metroidvania and complex fighter, Guacamelee forced me to use precise timing to navigate some of the more complex puzzles, but I never felt as though I was in over my head. The combat is a time-based system of careful button presses which offer on screen hints as to when you can grab enemies and launch them across the screen and into oncoming foes. Certain puzzles require accute attention to navigate them successfully  and on a few points I thought I may have been going the wrong way on the map due to the difficult of said puzzles, but other than that I have absolutely no complaints.

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a small bit of backtracking (ughh, Castlevania 2), but this is handled wonderfully, thanks to portals laid in key areas which allow you to
quickly warp between zones.

Much of Guacamelee’s charm comes from its elegant aesthetic, which can best be described as a world filled with vivid colors laid upon flat textures that offer almost a paper, or cardboard quality about them. Animations are gorgeous, and one scene which illustrates this well involves a purple goat warping into human form, revealing a sage-like guide who assists you on your journey.

Furthermore, the dialogue banter between characters is witty, which is another one of the title’s many strong points. Billboards along your journey reveal tie-ins to other familiar titles too, including a crudely translated Castle Crashers, in addition to a number of other game related references to tickle your nostalgia.

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In short, Guacamelee is wonderfully paced game that hits all the right notes along the way. In the end I found myself wanting more of this world, and eagerly await the next gen Drinkbox Studios offers the world. If this is any indication of what’s possible on the Vita, then more titles like this may be exactly what Sony needs in order to prove that it still has some life left in it yet.

 

Rating: ★★★★½

Guacamelee was provided for review by Drinkbox Studios. It’s currently available as a downloadable title for both PSN and Vita, for an MSRP of $14.99.

Posted on by Dave Voyles in PSN Reviews, Reviews

About Dave Voyles

Dave is located in Philadelphia, and works as a Tech Evangelist at Microsoft. He's coordinated the Indie Games Uprisings on Xbox Live, wrote the UnrealScript Game Programming Cookbook, Made an XBLIG game, and is currently doing JS / HTML5 dev for browser base games. You can follow him on Twitter, at @DaveVoyles