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Gaucamelee PC Review - -
Reviewed by
Josh Wright
Gaucamelee PC Review. For a price of just ten bucks, Gaucamelee! is definitely a game worth checking out.

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 10
Sound 6.0
Value 9.0
Developer: Drinkbox
Rating: G
Review Date: August 2013
Josh Wright



Do you know what a luchador is? Nup, neither do I. But after a few minutes into Drinkboxís new platformer Guacamelee! (yes, the exclamation is part of the title) Iím pretty sure itís Mexican for bad-ass. Either that or professional wrestler. Whichever way, it equals an exciting new arcade adventure thatís sure to give you at least a few solid days of fun.

The first thing that will grab you is the gameís gorgeous art direction. This is no retro pixel fest; the graphics are crisp and sharp, with Guacamelee! Colour palette as bright and dynamic as a piŮata. The cartoony stylings work brilliantly, and draw inspiration from traditional Mexican culture and folklore.

You play as down and out luchador wrestler, Juan Aguacate. In classic video game style, a damsel in distress has gone and got herself kidnapped by a supernatural terror. This time itís El Presidenteís daughter who needs rescuing - a nasty Charro Skeleton named Carlos Calaca has decided for reasons quickly lost on everyone that heís gotta have her, and so you decide to save the girlfriend youíve never met. You quickly come into possession of a magic wrestling mask (yes, thereís a proper Mexican name for it Ė I donít do much research, ok?!) that grants Juan some super new moves. And so he sets off, and the fun begins.

Guacamelee! is not just another platformer. Not since Bruce Lee on the old Commodore 64 have I had such fun jumping from level to level and delivering high-kicks as I went. Indeed, there is plenty of combat in this game. As you move through the stages youíre met with all sorts of south-of-the-border nasties, (the undead armadillos are particularly fiendish), skeletons, devils, even evil roosters, all determined to do you in. These must be engaged hand-to-hand (hence the melee!) and vanquished with a roster of moves that expands as you progress. Theyíre bone-crunching fun to pull off too; youíll be pile-driving demons, suplexing goblins and scissor-kicking skeletons. Your moves arenít used just for fighting either; youíll need them to break through walls, make desperate jumps, and generally engage in what is a better than average adventure.

The action begins in your little Mexican village and expands out from there. You move through the worlds using villages as hubs, and are able to go back and forth to unresolved areas as you gain more power-ups and skills. Some levels that seemed impossible become easy-peasy once you have (for example) the super goat-jump that lets you rebound off walls. And while this gives the game a longer life as you backtrack to chase up missed opportunities, it does make for early frustrations. Youíll be stressing over a platform puzzle that seems just out of reach, and thatís because it is.

One extra twist - thanks to that evil Skeleton Carlos Calaca, a dimension switching mechanic comes into play. The villain moves between the world of the living and the dead, which means in game there is plenty of level swapping and switcheroos going on. Enter a level while on the living world and it will look one way, re-enter when switched to the dimension of death and things will be completely different. This all adds up to some brain-bending puzzling and healthier replay value.

Less than half an hour in, and I was already stumped by some pretty tricky challenges. If you go into Gaucamelee! Expecting a forgiving FEZ style gaming experience, think again. This game requires some solid puzzle solving skills and split second timing for those tricker jumps. Of course having infinite lives to pull things off helps Ė modern games still arenít ruthless enough to return to those old 20th Century arcade rules. Still, completing Guacamelee! wonít make you feel like youíve just gone through the motions either, thereís plenty of real challenge here for the old school gamer.

A Mario and Luigi style two player option can be incorporated into the action Ė the second player appearing as a sassy femme wrestler. Together you help each other unlock doors, fight off baddies and generally get in each otherís way. Thereís also some fun unlockables and skins. For each baddie bashed, coins are snaffled up and used to buy new moves, new abilities and new looks. Iím particularly keen to slip into the devil-chicken suit, and unlock some killer rooster attacks.

Humour plays a big role in Gaucamelee! Drinkbox has tapped into that old Monkey Island style absurdity and used it to full effect. Youíll actually want to stop and talk to NPCs to hear the crazy stuff they come out with. Look out for the old goat of a trainer, heís particularly good for a chuckle, and beating up his chickens has never been so much fun.

The only real missed opportunity in Gaucamelee! is its sound. Given how much attention has been devoted to the gameís look, the audio is surprisingly predictable. Yes, the effects are fine, the biffs and bops are all there, but the soundtrack is far too timid. With so many great mariachi bands out of work these days, Drinkbox could have really rocked the casa. Still, for a price of just ten bucks, Gaucamelee! is definitely a game worth checking out. If only just for the gorgeous design and crazy cartoon yuks, itís a platformer that pile-drives the competition.



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