Sometimes style is just as important as substance. Guacamelee proves this perfectly.
From the instant the game boots up and the cheery Mexican-styled tunes begin it’s clear that Guacamelee is happy to attract its players with its plethora of palettes first.
Luckily many will stay for the gameplay. While Guacamelee wears its influences like a badge – a lot of Metroid, a dashing of Zelda – it is nonetheless throughly enjoyable to play.
Nintendo has played a huge part on Drinkbox Studios, in fact, who has included a massive number of clever references – in a Mexican theme, naturally – to gaming idols of yesteryear.
They’re twee little references and they come at you at every step of the game. Grim Fandango, Mario and even Castle Crashers are some of the references that the gaming elite should, hopefully, pick up on.
Mostly it’s Metroid, though. Guacamelee takes the same 2D explorative platform as introduced with Metroid and adds in a fairly robust melee brawler.
It has its own variations on the tried-and-tested formulas, though. Such as the ability to switch between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Here platforms will change, NPCs will alter and previously inaccessible areas become open.
Guacamelee’s Metroid Gameplay
It ties into the backtracking exploration that Metroid is known for, but alongside a number of well-designed – and tricky – platforming sections.
The combat itself is fairly simple at first, initially asking for you to learn a handful of combos before requiring certain abilities to defeat otherwise invulnerable enemies.
The addition of currency to purchase upgrades means you’re able to improve as you travel through the game, and it ties into the hit-counter too. A higher count earns you additional coins to spend.
Guacamelee is enjoyable, sleek and well paced enough that it never feels too heavy on the combat or on the exploration and the platform-hopping.
But it is fairly barebones when it comes to depth. While you can purchase new takedowns, it never really feels like a mandatory tweak to your inherent combat abilities.
There’s a humour here that we weren’t quite expecting too. The colourful visual style should’ve suggested it, but the characters of the game never really take themselves seriously – and that alone is kind of refreshing these days.
Content-wise you’ll get a good few hours out of the game. A number of varied locations and a handful of side quests means you’re always encountering something new, while unlocking new abilities regularly will make it hard not to return to past locations to look for hidden treasure.
Style Over Substance
There isn’t much more about Guacamelee to really highlight. It does what it does well, and provides a unique art style to pin it all together.
Perhaps that might not really be enough to warrant your £10 – if you’ve played one Metroid-styled game then you’ve played them all – but it does provide something colourful and entertaining that you won’t tire of as it ticks along at a healthy pace.
It’s true that it lacks some of the depth that many of these games often rely upon, but there’s no faulting its level of quality.
The biggest sticking point is just how limited the game is, but that doesn’t really do the game justice. It is only a tenner, and that’ll buy you more than enough game to warrant the entry fee.
Guacamelee is by no means the best PS Vita game – and it certainly isn’t the most original – but it will, without a doubt, provide more than enough entertainment regardless of whether you only play on the bus or on the couch.
Few games can offer a level of polish as high as this, and that alone is enough to download Guacamelee.
Version Tested: PS Vita