Since the latest generation of consoles came to be late last year, developers and publishers have taken games from the last generation, given them some upgrades here and there and released them on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. With a year since Guacamelee! released on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, Drinkbox Studios decided it was their turn to bat. But is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition a home run or just another remaster in a sea of games? Read on to find out.
Gamers who had the opportunity to play the original Guacamelee! on the PS3, PS Vita, or even PC last year will find similar story elements as last year. This Mexican-themed Metroidvania stars Juan Aguacate, an agave farmer who’s out on his luck when his town is attacked by the evil Carlos Calaca, who abducts his childhood crush to proceed with his plans to merge the worlds of the living and dead.
While the story remains the same, the journey is different. With Super Turbo Championship Edition, Drinkbox didn’t simply put a new coat of paint on an old game; they added new features, levels, bosses, and enemies on top of the already existing DLC. Drinkbox could have sectioned off the new content as to keep everything the same, but they didn’t. Instead, they went back and introduced the new content into the story itself, changing where you would find some of the game’s powerups, villain encounters, and so on. Rather than going to a certain area as you would in the previous game, that new story element could be in one of the new areas, forcing you into an encounter with the new powered-up enemies.
As the name might imply, Guacamelee!’s combat revolves around using melee attacks to go toe-to-toe with enemies. During the game’s eight-hour campaign, Guacamelee! throws several special attacks into your arsenal, many of which will be used to solve the game’s numerous puzzles. Grapples, throws, kicks, and punches make up the moveset Juan or his coop partner Tostada can utilize to vanquish their foes. Because of the strength of some of the enemies (the newer ones in particular) a lot of your time in Guacamelee! will be spent getting to know your arsenal well enough. At first, it took me a little while to get back into the groove of things, but before long, I was able to effortlessly chain together punches, dodges, and throws to set up some rather extensive combos.
Speaking of enemies, there are a few new enemy times in this version of the game. Something that wasn’t addressed in last year’s iteration was where Calaca gets all of his henchmen from. Well Super Turbo Championship Edition not only addresses that question, but uses it to introduce a new area, new boss, and supped up version of old enemies. These new enemies come packed with the ability to teleport out of harms way at a moment’s notice, making them more threatening in packs than their powerless allies.
The best part of Guacamelee! for me wasn’t the combat or story, but the humor injected into seemingly mundane things. Whether I was wandering around town talking to the game’s citizens or gazing at the meme-filled billboards, outside of combat there was almost always something in the area to make me smile.
Guacamelee! features quite a bit of platforming. The game’s many puzzles serve as a nice respite from the frequent battles, providing a good balance that prevents the combat from getting stale after eight hours of enemy encounters. Chaining your platforming skills and Juan’s special powers is a requirement to successfully complete most of Guacamelee!’s puzzles. There’s a certain section, the Tule Tree, which really tests your skills. Here not only do you have to utilize your core abilities, but also be very wary of the dimension you’re in. Sometimes one thing requires you to be in the living dimension while the obstacle just beyond it requires you to be in the dead. Managing both dimensions to get past obstacles gives a sense of satisfaction when it’s all said and done.
Graphics & Audio
Going from the PS3 to PS4 version of Guacamelee! there wasn’t really anything that stood out visually to me. The environments still look the same and from what I could tell, the frame rate was a solid 60 FPS, allowing for a buttery smooth experience and responsive controls.
Guacamelee!’s music is everything you would expect from a game with a Mexican theme: trumpets blare loudly, creating a jovial tune when wandering around in the dimension of the living, while the happiness is washed away by a more somber tone when Juan switches to the dimension of the dead. Speaking of switching, let’s switch over to Remote Play.
Something that Guacamelee! benefits heavily from is its simple control scheme. Attacks are mapped to the face buttons while dimension hopping and chicken transformations are tied to the DualShock 4’s triggers and L1 and R1 buttons. This translates beautifully to Remote Play on the PlayStation Vita as the player is never required to use the back touch screen for any actions. Activating Guacamelee!’s new INTENSO! mode is handled by quickly tapping the bottom corners of the Vita’s touchscreen which feels natural and only removes you from combat for a split second.
Drinkbox has set an example of themselves with the way they handled this edition. Super Turbo Championship Edition is less of a port and more of a whole new game. The way the extra content is seamlessly woven into the existing story and gameplay makes for a fresh experience even for a Guacamelee! veteran. Regardless if you already played Guacamelee! last year, you should pick up Super Turbo Championship Edition.
+ Expanded story
+ New content is fun
+ Remote Play controls are great
+ Local co-op