(Guacamelee User Review)
Cooking is harder than it seems. I'm talking about actual cooking here, not tossing a bowl of dry noodles into a pot of boiling water, not cranking out the summertime grill and tossing a couple hamburgers on there, not dipping chips in humus, not even spreading jam and fluff on bread. Actual cooking. At least for me. I always want to cut corners and I just don't have the patience. So unless there is a new girl around, I'm sticking with a bowl of pasta.
Making a beat em' up or a platformer and have it be successful in the modern day of gaming isn't the easiest either, but there must have been some girls around Drinkbox Studios because Guacamelee! is one of the better Indie games to come out of the last few years.
Guacamelee's art-style is the bomb. Colors pop like a pouch of pop rocks on your tongue, which means they are just as aesthetically pleasing as any Nintendo game's color pallet, and character animations are slicker than Slick Rick personal water slide. I love playing Guacamelee just to look at it. It's the kind of game you want a still of just to hang on the wall. Then you don't cause you'd be branding yourself as a "gamer" and that new chick you met at the art gallery is supposed to stop by tomorrow night and your not sure if you want to let her know EVERYTHING about you just yet. But maybe you're the kind of dude that doesn't care. Maybe you're the kind of guy that's a kind guy.
Sound and music are in tip-top form, if it could have a six pack, it would have a twelve pack. It's how sound should be. I wouldn't suggest that Guacamelee's soundtrack is as catchy as any of those old Nintendo tunes you can still hum the beat of, but this soundtrack is just as good. It matches the Mexican milieu more appropriately than tacos being sold out of the window of a big food truck. And it's not overwhelming. It's not in your ears, more just there. Like, you would notice if it wasn't there, but you sort of forget its playing while you're playing. Though I do recommend, just letting the game sit from time to time to appreciate the goodness. Have it on in the background for awhile while you clean your room. Because you know you need to clean that disgusting mess before that chick comes over. Make sure you take down the Zelda poster too and put that in the closet. Unless you're still the kind of dude that doesn't care. In that case, I salute you young champion.
Controls are pin-point precise and the overall combat system is wonderfully balanced, edging toward the side of challenging. When you get the crud kicked out of you, it's because you made some mistakes and you either need to improve your combat skills or work on your combat strategy. This is what makes beat em' up games great. You feel like a hero when you take down a series of enemies, and you don't feel like you've been cheated when you get taken down for the fifth time in a row. Think of it as a way to keep your blood pressure down. So when that babe comes over you're not all tense and strung out, you're more mellow and can remember all those romantic one-liners you've been saving up for the right occasion.
Platforming reminded me a bit of Kyntt Underground, but not nearly as rich or complex. Luckily, if you screw up, like fall in a pit or lava or something, you're just instantly given another crack at it, not transported all the way back to a save point. Making it across these platforming sections requires a few minutes of thought and sometimes even a few minutes of trial and error, but nothing too hair-pulling. These bits really do add some nice flavorful pace changes and cool breaks from the beat em' up sections, but they're not so good that I would go telling that dame who's coming over about. I mean look, she doesn't want to hear about it. Just talk about that modern Romeo and Juliet movie with Leo.
My biggest gripe with Guacamelee! is the treatment of upgrades. For a game which borrows so much from old school Nintendo games, I find it funny that it would miss the boat on how to divvy out upgrades. Guacamelee hands them out like bubble-gum. They come often and far to easy. Remember that moment when you got the high jump in the original Metroid? Ok, well I do. That was a glorious moment. Not only was it hard to get, but you really felt the upgrade, like you almost could taste the transformation. How Guacamelee's upgrades are acquired feels so skimmed over and unthought out that you might as well of had them all from the very beginning. Unfortunately, I find this aspect of the game to be pretty important, so much so that it keeps my overall opinion of Guacamelee! from getting anywhere near achieving an elite status.
But's it's still great and should be purchased immediately.