Juan is a humble agave farmer. His beloved childhood friend is to be sacrificed by the evil Carlos Calaca to merge the worlds of the living and of the dead. Chosen by a magic Luchador mask, Juan is granted super human powers and cool combo moves to defeat hordes of undead minions. The agave farmer must travel through picturesque villages, forests, deserts, caves, mines and temples to rescue his sweetheart in distress.
Playability: Finger agile repetitiveness
Guacamelee is a classic platformer that involves the usual tropes of over the top somersaults and perfectly timed combos. On detecting my mouse and keyboard, the game recommended buying a console controller. Undaunted, I proceeded through agonising hours of keystroke jumps, headbutts, frog slams and other goat climbs. A pleasant surprise was hints to the required combos scattered throughout the game. For example, keystrokes could be engraved on a temple wall. If the going gets too tough, an extra player can join the slam (as Tostada the beautiful female wrestler). Nevertheless, Guacamelee requires some serious finger speedwork. While the evil minions can be effectively dispatched with basic and repetitive attacks, a super easy mode (or one for old video gamers) would have made level bosses more approachable.
Annoyance: Collect all the orbs to get the good ending while avoiding Mexican stereotypes
The world of Guacamelee consists of only ten locales, but to get the perfect ending (rather than the annoyingly bad regular ending) all nooks and cranes will have to be explored. Collecting the orbs is not optional, it’s imperative and it’s fastidious. Beating the bosses is hard enough, but beating the bosses and retracing footsteps to look for orbs quickly becomes a chore. Repetition does make a game longer, but it also makes it annoying. Another grating issue is the teenage level humour (sometimes funny, sometimes irritating), which borders on toilet seat and uses typical North American stereotypes of Mexicans (brownish looking with accents living in villages populated by chickens).
Beauty: Colourful masks and luchadores
Lucha libre is a colourful (and sadly dying) popular art form. There are only a handful of traditional mask makers remaining. So it’s great to see a lucha libre game, complete with combo moves. The visual arts and the accompanying mariachi (composed by Rom di Prisco http://www.romdiprisco.com) are the strongest grappling moves of Guacamelee. It is a shame that the beautiful graphics and music are not matched by finer humour.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: A pure agility platformer in shiny costumes 5/10
The world of Guacamelee is worth exploring as it is visually beautiful and intriguing. However, a heavy handed script coupled with repetitive crazy platforming stunts just won’t let you sink into the scenery and the mariachi imbued lucha libre atmosphere.