The lights are on
Metroid-vania style of video game seems to be experiencing a resurgence.
Guacamelee! is just the newest of these games, which have found a home in the
small, less than twenty-dollar downloadable space. And yet, for its size and
price, Guacamelee delivers a truly immersive, entertaining, and often humorous
experience that rivals many multi-million dollar AAA titles, and does so for a
fraction of the price. Indeed, Drinkbox Studios has created one of the best games
available on the Playstation Vita and easily one of the most worthwhile downloadable
experiences to date.
first and most striking feature of this game is its art style. In the
Metroidvania style, Guacamelee is a two-dimensional experience, but its vibrant
colors and brilliant art direction allow this game to stand out. The
protagonist, a luchadore named Juan, is stunningly depicted, and the world and
its inhabitants are sharply drawn. The land is bright and inviting, and even
when in difficult combat scenarios, the cartoony visuals are eye-catching and
upbeat. The towns are crowded, busy, and full of life. The one negative is the inclusion
of notorious internet memes in the background decorations. This can be funny,
but it is also excessive and sometimes nearly insulting in the way only
over-used memes can be.
presentation encompasses both visuals and music, and the soundtrack of
Guacamelee holds up the promise made by the art. Mariachi music pipes through every
scenario and makes every second playing the game feel that much more
over-the-top and ridiculous, which is great. The game allows the player to take
the role of an absurdly buff wrestler with supernatural powers and a
sarcastically stoic silence, and the acoustic, up-tempo music acts almost as a
surrogate dialogue for the protagonist.
Guacamelee’s gameplay is where the game truly shines. The platforming is
well-done; the jumping not too floaty and the levels never too frustrating.
Later in the game, the platforming takes on puzzle elements which are just hard
enough to give a sense of accomplishment to the player. However, the necessity
of nearly game-breaking powers in these puzzle sequences makes them short, too
short for my taste. It left me wanting more, especially considering the promise
of a gameplay system involving parallel worlds that can be switched on the fly.
And yet, the combat was satisfying albeit difficult. The combos were fun to
pull off, and the hilariously-named special moves gave some of the most fun
moments in the game when I successfully used them to their fullest extent.
I wished Drinkbox would have included full voice acting, the story was silly
and fulfilling, a good ancillary motivation to see the game through to its finish
beyond just the fun combat and world exploration. After about five hours of
gameplay, I finished Guacamelee and felt fully satisfied with the fifteen
dollars I spent. I played it entirely on Vita and it was a fantastic
experience, although it works brilliantly on the PS3 as well. It is a must-buy
for the Vita owner looking for a fun game, or a gamer looking for a humorous
platformer. It is not without its flaws, but Guacamelee is one of the most
genuinely entertaining games playable on the Vita. Drinkbox has once again
proved its ability to create a fully immersive experience for a bargain price.
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