Also On: Xbox One
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Guacamelee! from developer Drinkbox Studios arrived this week for Xbox One and PS4, equipped with a whole host of extra content in this Super Turbo Championship Edition version of the game. Having last played through Guacamelee! on Steam with the “Gold” release, I’ve gotta say that STCE is certainly the definitive version of the game. While no version of Guacamelee! has let me down in any way, shape or form — the amount of new stuff to enjoy in STCE is well-worth the double-dip.
For those of you that haven’t experienced Guacamelee! yet, you’re in for a treat. This is one of the best “Metroidvania” titles you’ll likely ever play, featuring beautiful visuals, laugh-out-loud humor, and some of the most brilliant meshing of combat and platforming seen in any 2D release to date. While the original release featured a number of memorable boss fights and locales, this version ups the boss count by 1, and features a couple of new locations to check out. While that doesn’t sound like a lot on paper, the boss encounter is pretty fantastic, and stands out from the other fights with unique mechanics. And the new locations offer up their own unique elements, including some of the toughest platforming sections in the game, all seamlessly woven into the existing game.
Other changes and additions come from new enemies, including teleporting versions of existing bad guys that refuse to be juggled or tied up in combos for long. You’ll also find DLC from the original release integrated into the story mode, online speed run leaderboards, drop-in drop-out local co-op, and new “silver” currency used to buy costume unlocks. All changes, both minor and major, certainly make improvements to the core game. Even the grappling and throwing mechanic that sits at the core of the titular melee portion of Guacamelee!’s combat has been improved, making it easier to aim and throw enemies or objects where you intended.
One more addition is the new INTENSO combat mode, which works like a rage mode with a limited-use meter to expend. Once you've filled the INTENSO meter you can unleash a more powerful form of your lead luchador, allowing you to land more powerful attacks while extending your health meter. INTENSO can help see you past some of the tougher combat moments in the game, but it's balanced in a way that makes it difficult to abuse. Some of the newer sections in the story mode are definitely built with the INTENSO mode in mind, but building up the INTENSO meter takes time, so you'll want to use it judiciously.
Of course, the basics of Guacamelee! remain largely unchanged, and there’s certainly little room for improvement or tweaks here. Platforming still feels tight, with precise controls that will have you zooming around multiple obstacles while juggling different powers with ease. Guacamelee!’s ability to blend combat abilities with world traversal feels as unique as it did a year or so ago, and completely unrivaled when it comes to other like-minded titles. Navigating the world-map, backtracking for missed collectibles, and exploration in general is never encumbered by the UI or other functions. All in all, this is still the Guacamelee! you know and love, just with additional reasons to play through it again.
Of course, Xbox One owners with Xbox Live Gold subscriptions can pick this title up for free through the Games with Gold promotion, but if you’re a PS4 owner I wouldn’t scoff at the idea of ponying up $14.99 for this one. Even if you’ve played through Guacamelee! before on PS3, Vita or Steam, you’ll find Super Turbo Championship Edition makes this worth playing through a second or third time.
I absolutely loved Guacamelee! when I played through it the first time, and that fact hasn’t changed here. This is, by far, the best version of Guacamelee! you’re likely to see, until the inevitable sequel arrives. So definitely check this one out — for the first time or to play through it again — it’ll either become one of your modern favorites or you’ll fall in love with Guacamelee! all over again.